ITF Showcase Puts Innovation Center Stage

Ideas include cyber security academy, expansion of health sciences programs.

itf task force
Dean Ali Eskandarian presents ideas for the Virginia Campus at the ITF Showcase.
December 04, 2013

The Marvin Center played host to a Showcase of Ideas on Tuesday as GW’s Innovation Task Force, now in its seventh phase and heading into its fifth full year of operation, presented six of its best new revenue and cost-saving proposals to the university community for review and discussion. A similar showcase will be held Thursday on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, which also is the task force’s thematic focus for this phase. 

The ideas, three of which are VSTC specific, include:
  • VSTC Cyber Security Academy: The creation of a cyber security academy on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus would take advantage of high job growth opportunities in the field as well as extant expertise at the university.
  • VSTC Health Sciences Programs: Taking advantage of an increasing population of professionals in health science, the VSTC would expand its options in those disciplines.
  • High Performance Computing Support: The university would reallocate its administrative technology budget, particularly in IT consulting, to high-value IT research support -- an initiative which is in some respects already being implemented.
  • School of Media and Public Affairs -- Executive Education: This executive education program within the SMPA would offer course delivery both onsite and online.
  • Software License Fee Centralized Management: With enforcement of existing software licensing procurement policies and thoughtful consolidation of existing licensing, GW could eliminate redundant license fees.
  • University Events Coordination: Events at GW—which often involve staff from across numerous schools and departments—would be coordinated centrally, with university-wide strategic planning, event standardization tiers and improved vendor management.
“From the outset, we had envisioned coordinating this phase with the ongoing strategic planning efforts at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus,” said David Lawlor, senior associate vice president for finance and chair of the ITF Steering Committee.
The success of GW’s School of Nursing has proved that the VSTC has great potential as a resource, said Ali Eskandarian, dean of the College of Professional Studies and of VSTC, who—as the chairman of the ITF Exploration Committee for Phase VII—presented at the showcase and helped facilitate discussion afterward. 
“Since the School of Nursing has succeeded so wildly” on the Virginia Campus, Dr. Eskandarian said, it would be important to the ITF that other successful programs be identified for the property, where “really remarkable things,” including a collections and conservation center for the forthcoming GW museum and the world’s first walkable solar-paneled pathway, are already taking place. “We need to make sure that faculty have incentives to work there, and that they don’t feel they have to split their responsibilities across two campuses.”
The showcase, which is open to all members of the GW community, continues to be an integral part of the ITF planning and selection process, Mr. Lawlor said.
“It’s really important to us, and has been from the ITF’s inception, that this is a grassroots effort,” he said. The showcases engage “the people who know the most about this university,” which, in the long term, produces ideas that are more practicable, more sustainable, and more in line with the ITF’s goals of responsible financial stewardship.
And the hard work, he added, pays off.
“We’re seeing tens of millions of dollars reinvested in our core academic mission,” he said. “And that’s a testimony to the caliber of the GW constituents who have worked to develop these ideas.”
The Innovation Task Force was established by President Steven Knapp in October 2009 with the charge of generating $60 million in annual, recurring savings and new revenue for reinvestment in the university’s top academic priorities. Six new innovation ideas are selected for implementation every six months. To date, 60 initiatives and approximately $56 million have been identified toward the $60 million goal.