Provost Releases Draft of Strategic Plan

Dozens of concrete actions are on the university’s radar for the next decade.

October 10, 2012

Provost Steven Lerman on Tuesday released the first full draft of a strategic plan that leads George Washington University into the next decade.

Over the past year, members from all corners of the university during more than 70 events have had a hand in developing the plan, informed by four theme areas that draw from and build on the university’s strengths and potential: innovation through cross-disciplinary collaboration, globalization, citizenship and leadership, and governance and policy.

The result is several dozen concrete actions GW will take over the next 10 years, organized around the university’s three long-held missions of education, research and service to society.

“Great universities are stronger than the sum of their parts, and these initiatives are designed to ensure that this is true at GW,” Dr. Lerman said.

George Washington will invest at least $110 million over the next 10 years to implement the plan. “When one aspires to play in the big leagues, you have to put in the resources that make that possible.”


Objectives in this area include: fostering a range of core competencies in the undergraduate experience; instilling leadership, citizenship and global and intercultural skills; enhancing post-graduation opportunities for undergraduates; and increasing the diversity of the graduate student body and of graduate program offerings.

To achieve these goals, GW plans to:

  • admit students to the university as a whole—rather than to a specific school or program—but allow them to declare pre-majors in areas of interest;
  • work with faculty to develop a common general curriculum for undergraduates;
  • create minors in areas like poverty, immigration, AIDS and obesity that emphasize working across disciplines;
  • increase the number of undergraduate students involved in research;
  • enhance students’ internship experiences by clearly linking them to students’ academic experiences;
  • improve coordination between study abroad and career centers to identify international job and internship opportunities;
  • establish a scholarship fund for students in internships;
  • develop extended study abroad programs where students can participate in research or service abroad;
  • develop opportunities for pre-college international students to come to GW to practice English and prepare for college;
  • increase international enrollment to 12 to 15 percent of the undergraduate population and 25 to 30 percent of the graduate population;
  • increase the diversity of the overall student body;
  • establish affinity-living groups;
  • expand faculty-in-residence programs;
  • create space in residence halls for community-based activities;
  • create B.A./M.A. policy track programs across disciplines;
  • develop four-year B.A./M.A. programs;
  • create 10 to 15 new graduate doctoral packages for students who add to diversity in their chosen fields;
  • create 30 to 50 additional fully-funded graduate aid packages;
  • develop cross-disciplinary graduate housing; and
  • develop more cross-disciplinary graduate programs such as the one recently launched by the School of Business and Law School on government contracting.


Pure inquiry and discovery is a core component of GW’s mission, and objectives on the research front include: emphasizing research institutes, adding faculty and encouraging research that addresses significant societal problems.

To achieve these goals, GW plans to:

  • support current research institutes for cancer, sustainability, computational biology, neuroscience and the global women’s initiative;
  • add four to eight new cross-disciplinary and cross-school institutes;
  • review current centers and eliminate those that don’t generate significant research activity;
  • hire 50 to100 research-active faculty who have interests consistent with the plan;
  • promote joint hires with government agencies and private entities such as think tanks;
  • explore changes in GW’s policies to allow faculty to engage in classified research;
  • assist researchers in finding funding opportunities and writing grants;
  • fund research that involves principal investigators from more than one school;
  • support research related to policymaking through faculty sabbaticals; and
  • begin a “reverse sabbatical” program that allows those involved in policymaking to teach and research at GW.

Service to society

As a university built on service, objectives in this area include: publicizing research outside the academic community to affect policymaking; shaping the dialogue in arts, social sciences and natural sciences; and ensuring GW is a model institutional citizen in the D.C. area.

To achieve these goals, GW plans to:

  • work with external relations to publicize key research to the general public and relevant decision-makers in the public and private sectors;
  • encourage schools to “adopt” think tanks in humanities and social sciences;
  • bring policymakers to campus as guest professors;
  • attract leading creative artists to campus;
  • post more lectures online for public access;
  • continue to hire and retain a diverse workforce;
  • design and construct sustainable buildings;
  • encourage students and faculty to participate in research and activities that contribute to the local community; and
  • develop partnerships with D.C. businesses, agencies, schools and nonprofits, particularly those that support minority or at-risk groups, and work with minority-owned vendors.

The draft of the full plan is now available here. GW community members may continue to submit feedback. The final plan will be released in February 2013.