Vision 2021 Will Guide Academic Year

Provost Steven Lerman shares new plans, budget models developed for 2014-15 at Faculty Assembly.

October 7, 2014


Provost Steven Lerman gives remarks at Faculty Assembly.

Vision 2021, the George Washington University’s 10-year strategic plan, will be at the center of new efforts and developments planned this academic year, Provost Steven Lerman said at Tuesday’s Faculty Assembly.
He described research and international strategies as well as an updated budget model that will support the implementation of the strategic plan.
In May 2013, GW’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 10-year Vision 2021 strategic plan, which outlines specific actions the university will take in education, service initiatives and research.
Already, the university has made progress implementing the strategic plan, Dr. Lerman said. Working toward the goal of admitting students to the university at large rather than to specific programs or schools, the university has removed barriers to students changing majors and transferring among GW’s schools, a change that has encouraged collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning. In January, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed began working on a Citizenship and Leadership Committee that will seek leadership opportunities for students both within and outside the university.  
The new Sustainability Institute headed by Kathleen Merrigan, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the recently launched Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Initiative also promote multi-disciplinary research detailed in the strategic plan.
GW will continue building on Vision 2021 with international strategies that educate students about global issues. The university successfully hosted Brasilia Without Borders, a summer program that brought 400 students from Brasilia to campus, and formed an advisory committee of faculty members to recommend opportunities for exchanges in China. This upcoming year, Dr. Lerman said, the university will ramp up international student recruiting in other countries and enhance services for current international students.
“The focus is on how we move this university to have more aspects that both educate our students on global issues and make them competent in a highly globalized world,” Dr. Lerman said.
Dr. Lerman added that he is working with deans and faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development to launch the strategic plan’s STEM Academy, a center that will focus on the best techniques for STEM education. The academy is projected to open in tandem with the new Science and Engineering Hall (SEH).
As graduate enrollment declined throughout the country, GW saw dips in its own numbers and will work this year to enhance graduate studies. The university was 1 percent short of its projected budget for fiscal year 2015 due to smaller tuition revenues and slightly higher expenditures. The university made up the difference through cuts and reductions in non-academic expenditures. 
Dr. Lerman said his office will work with each school to restore graduate revenue and expand enrollment. The university also is moving seven of its schools toward a more flexible budgeting model that will encourage growth, increase accountability, create incentives and support the strategic plan. GW is also building out a five-year budget cycle to allow for long-term financial planning, Dr. Lerman said.
“We still will approve our budget year by year, but this will give us a sense of how we as a university think our finances are going, and it will enable each school to have a five-year plan that it can craft and change over time,” Dr. Lerman said.
Tuesday’s meeting also included introductions of new faculty members. The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences has the most additions this year, with many professors transferring from the former Corcoran College.
President Steven Knapp welcomed new faculty and gave an update on the university, including the implementation of the historic agreements with the Corcoran and the National Gallery of Art, the new George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, the Science and Engineering Hall and District House. What matters most about these facilities, Dr. Knapp said, is the teaching and learning that will happen in them. He said that during last month’s Alumni Weekend, many former Colonials approached him to share stories about how they’ve been deeply influenced by faculty members who taught them at GW.
“They keep coming back to the impact you, your colleagues and predecessors have made on their lives,” Dr. Knapp said.
Board of Trustees Chair Nelson A. Carbonell, B.S. ’85, gave an update on the faculty governance review, a two-year process that the board began last year in collaboration with faculty. 
In June, Mr. Carbonell charged four working groups with reviewing faculty participation in governance, tenure procedures, dean appointments and performance reviews and school procedures. Each group has a one-year deadline to recommend improvements in their areas to the Board of Trustees. Last year, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution addressing a fifth principle, academic freedom, following a review by the Faculty Governance Task Force, the Professional Ethics and Academic Freedom Committee and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. The resolution was adopted at the Board of Trustees’ June meeting.
“Our goal as a board and community is to move the university among the most respected and admired institutions in the world. We can only do that together—I’m counting on all of you for your support, and I pledge to you our support,” Mr. Carbonell said.
Charles A. Garris, chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, gave a report on the Faculty Senate, which will meet this Friday. He concluded Faculty Assembly by saying that he is confident that the collaboration among GW’s faculty, the administration and the Board of Trustees will result in significant improvements in shared governance.
“Shared governance has served us very well. Working side by side with the Board of Trustees and the administration on a wide range of issues, the faculty has had a large impact on the directions and policies of the university,” Dr. Garris said. “I’m very optimistic that at the Faculty Assembly taking place one year from today, the chair of the Executive Committee will report that as a result of the improvements in the Faculty Code and other governance documents resulting from the Board of Trustees’ efforts, shared governance will be even stronger.”