Post-COVID Academic Innovation Task Force Shares Final Report

The task force convened in early 2021 to consider and recommend new and innovative ways of fulfilling GW’s academic mission.

October 13, 2021

The Post-COVID Academic Innovation Task Force has shared its findings and recommendations in a final report submitted to Interim Provost Christopher Alan Bracey. It is the culmination of work that began earlier this year.

The task force was charged in early 2021 with the goal of considering and recommending new and innovative ways of fulfilling George Washington University’s academic mission. To make its recommendations, the task force, comprising faculty, staff and students, examined GW’s experience during the pandemic and obtained information from a number of sources, including studying post-pandemic higher education literature and reviewing previous academic innovation work from some faculty- and student-led elements of the strategic planning committees.

The task force formed four working groups focused on faculty; undergraduate students; graduate and professional students; and staff and academic support personnel. The working groups solicited input from these constituencies through focus groups and campus-wide surveys in order to gather information about concerns, innovations and opportunities that emerged during the pandemic. The resulting information was organized in the report into themes within each constituency.

Key findings include a continued emphasis on the importance of having an in-person experience in Washington, D.C.; a desire for continued learning, teaching and working flexibility; support for a continued “culture of empathy;” and overall strong engagement from the university community, with an eagerness to be consulted on the future of GW.

“The task force has done tremendous work to identify and provide insight on the most salient themes affecting our community,” said Professor Bracey. “We can incorporate many of the report’s themes into our daily work together. I am particularly committed to continuing to prioritize the culture of empathy that has supported our students through the complications of the pandemic. I am extremely grateful for the task force’s expertise and insight in developing this report.”

Task force co-chair Jason Zara, professor of biomedical engineering and associate chair for academic affairs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, previously had given a status update on the task force’s work at the May 2021 Faculty Senate meeting.

“In the midst of transitioning to virtual learning and then back to an in-person experience, I was impressed by the hard work of the task force members and working groups and heartened by the engagement of the GW community with our outreach efforts,” said Dr. Zara. “This work has reaffirmed my belief in the strength of the GW community, and I am excited to see how lessons learned during the pandemic can be integrated into our academic mission.”

The task force’s report is available on the Provost’s Office website here.