Reducing Leased Space

March 14, 2011

By Jamie L. Freedman

Space is a precious commodity at GW—thanks to the university’s prime location in the heart of the nation’s capital. To accommodate GW’s academic and research enterprise, the university leases a significant amount of space in the commercial district adjacent to the Foggy Bottom Campus.

The Innovation Task Force is committed to substantially reducing the amount of off-campus space leased by GW—an initiative that can potentially yield more than $3 million per year in recurring savings by 2017. One of the top six innovation ideas generated in phase one of the Innovation Task Force, the leased space reduction initiative is led by Alicia O’Neil Knight, senior associate vice president of operations.

“The cost of leasing space near our Foggy Bottom Campus has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, which is why we need to take a really hard look at how we can be more efficient and accommodate our space needs in other ways,” says Ms. Knight. “Our original goal was to reduce the amount of space we lease by one-sixth, but after a great deal of analysis, we now believe that by 2017, we’ll be able to decrease it by approximately two third, which will save the university more than $3 million a year.”

According to Ms. Knight, the benefits extend far beyond cost savings. “The opportunity to bring programs and functions back onto campus will create a better, more consolidated student support network,” she explains. “We’ve had great success with the Colonial Central model and the new Faculty and Staff Service Center, and there will be many more opportunities like these to transform operations and enhance the university’s service environment.”

She says that the majority of space currently leased by the university is for administrative functions and grant-funded programs. The university also leases classroom space on the lower level of 2020 K Street, NW, and at 1776 F Street, NW.

“We’ve already relocated some of our administrative units to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, such as a large part of the IT and finance functions,” Ms. Knight says. “Human Resources recently moved out of leased space on the second floor of 2033 K Street, NW, relocating a part of their team to the Faculty and Staff Service Center in Rice Hall and the balance to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.”

The leased space reduction initiative dovetails nicely with two other top ITF initiatives—implementing a telecommuting policy and converting 35 GW courses per year into hybrid courses over the next five years, she adds. “Both will help free up space, some of which we can reallocate to functions currently leasing off-campus space, moving us closer to our target,” she says.

“Over $3 million a year in savings to invest in the most urgent academic needs of the institution, coupled with benefits in service delivery, will make a real difference to the university,” Ms. Knight concludes. “This initiative is not really about space. It’s about the tremendous impact that this operational change will make on our academic and research mission. We’re excited to be a part of it.”