Provost Presents Indicators of Academic Excellence at Faculty Senate

Six-year graduation rate, student performance highlighted.

Forrest Maltzman
High school performance remains an “overwhelming predictor” of how a student will perform in college—more so than standardized test scores, Provost Forrest Maltzman said Friday in a presentation to the Faculty Senate. (William Atkins/GW Today)
March 07, 2018

The George Washington University’s core indicators of academic excellence remain strong, including the undergraduate graduation rate and freshman retention rate, Provost Forrest Maltzman told members of the Faculty Senate on Friday.

A university’s graduation rate is a statement about “everything we’re doing,” Dr. Maltzman said, adding that although GW’s rate is one of the best in the country, “we’d still like it to be higher.”

Dr. Maltzman also noted that GW’s first-year retention rate improved from the year before.

“I feel very good about that,” he said.

High school performance remains an “overwhelming predictor” of how a student will perform in college—more so than standardized test scores, Dr. Maltzman added. GW went test-optional for its undergraduate applicants in 2015.

Dr. Maltzman showed actual and predicted performance data for first-year GPAs of students who entered in 2016 broken into groups of students who had submitted test scores with their applications and those who had not.

“In general, we see a fair amount of comparability between them,” he said. “You can predict college performance without incorporating test scores.”

Reporting on indicators related to faculty, Dr. Maltzman said in the university’s 2017 census GW employed 894 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. He also noted that within this group of faculty, nearly 40 percent are women and nearly 9 percent are from an underrepresented minority group.

Faculty members who log on from a GW computer can use the Institutional Research website to see more data on faculty, including data by school.

During his remarks, President Thomas LeBlanc relayed to the senate the concerns he has heard from students in the wake of a racist social media post that recently circulated online. Students, especially those who are black, have told stories about feeling judged or unwelcome because of their race, and the detrimental effect it has on their learning and GW experience.

He urged faculty and other university community members to “take a huge gulp of empathy,” “put yourself in their shoes” and work together to make GW a more welcoming place.

“We have a lot more work to do,” he said.

In other Faculty Senate news:

  • The senate unanimously approved a resolution adopting revised Guidelines for Exercising and Defending Academic Freedom. The university had requested modifications to the guidelines to better align them with existing university policies, including on political activity, demonstrations and disruption of university function.
  • After considerable debate and an amendment, the senate also approved by secret vote a resolution that endorsed various actions Dr. Maltzman reported the university would take with respect to online courses, commended the high quality of GW’s online courses and indicated that face-to-face, online and hybrid courses be reviewed in a comparable manner.
University News


Provost Announces Reorganization to Enhance Student Experience

January 22, 2018
Laurie Koehler to lead creation of new entity bringing together the strengths of the current Divisions of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Retention.

New Test-Optional Policy Helped Shape More Diverse Freshman Class

November 21, 2016
Percentage of first-year students from underrepresented minority groups increased by 33 percent in fall 2016.

Standardized Test Scores Will Be Optional for GW Applicants

July 27, 2015
Beginning in August, submitting SAT or ACT scores will no longer be required for most students applying for undergraduate admission.