The committee plans to frame its recommendations around the goals of investing in people, ideas and infrastructure.
By Kristen Mitchell
The third High-Impact Research Strategic Planning Committee public forum was held on Tuesday, giving the George Washington University community the opportunity to provide feedback on principles and goals that will inform a strategy for improving the research enterprise across the university.
The committee ultimately will draft a report that articulates where the university’s research portfolio should be in five years and how to get there. During Tuesday’s forum, held at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, committee leadership provided a summary of the input that it has received to date from the GW community and requested feedback from public forum attendees.
Alan E. Greenberg, M.D. ’82, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Milken Institute School of Public Health and chair of the High-Impact Research Committee of the strategic plan, said an "enormous amount of time and energy" has gone into collecting feedback from the GW community. He thanked the committee and other members of the university community who have been active in the process.
"When you have the opportunities we’ve had to interact with faculty across the university, we’ve really been humbled about the breadth of research that’s being conducted," he said.
The committee put forward a series of principles that will guide the university in achieving strategic research goals. These principles emphasize that diversity, leveraging GW’s location, strengthening the research ecosystem, and strategic research leadership from faculty are all needed for the university to achieve preeminence.
The committee also introduced three overarching goals that will frame its strategic plan recommendations and final report, which is in the early drafting stage. The goals are to invest in people, invest in ideas and invest in infrastructure.
"GW is well-positioned to achieve preeminence...in high impact research," said Diana Burley, vice chair of the committee and a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. "We believe that we have the building blocks to get there; we need to make some investments into the kinds of activities that will enable us to continue that march toward preeminence."
The committee identified what it believes are the university’s internal strengths in high-impact research, including GW’s location, research-oriented faculty and research facilities. It identified GW’s research ecosystem, culture, siloed faculty, student engagement and support, and connection between development and research as areas for improvement.
The committee also identified external opportunities for high-impact research, including a growing demand for data science expertise, potential for global collaboration and the region’s technology environment. External challenges include the growth of institutions based outside of D.C. moving into the region, a competitive market for quality researchers, faculty, staff and students, D.C.’s high cost of living, and GW’s historical reputation as a research university.
The High-Impact Research Strategic Planning Committee has been working closely with the Faculty Senate Committee on Research and the faculty-led working group that developed the Research Ecosystem Report, released in April. The recommendations in the Research Ecosystem Report will need to be implemented to achieve the goals put forward by the strategic planning committee, Dr. Greenberg said.
Attendees of Tuesday’s meeting had the opportunity to provide feedback on the committee’s presentation. One attendee expressed that the committee has not done enough outreach to ensure feedback from staff is included in the process. One faculty member said researchers do not have enough influence in the institution and often feel demotivated when their work and accomplishments go unnoticed by the administration.
Another attendee said the physical separation of some department faculty across multiple buildings has an adverse impact on colleague relationships and connectivity. He expressed a desire for this issue to be given consideration under the "invest in infrastructure" goal.
Each of the four strategic planning committees have held public discussions and gathering input to make draft recommendations. They will prepare a short draft report in January including principles, metrics and a proposed set of recommendations. Those drafts will be shared with the Faculty Senate and the campus community to review and offer feedback.
Members of the GW community are invited to submit feedback through the strategic plan website.