Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Faculty Complain George Washington Violated Shared Governance In Unilaterally Deciding To Reduce Enrollment By 20%

Following up on my previous post, George Washington To Reduce Enrollment By 20% To Increase Quality:  Inside Higher Ed, Shut Out of Shared Governance:

George Washington University LogoGeorge Washington University faculty members are unhappy about being left out of the process that led to a plan to reduce undergraduate enrollment. They are determined to learn more about how university administrators arrived at the decision in which faculty members say they had little to no input.

Thomas LeBlanc, the university's president, announced in July that the university would move to decrease the undergraduate population and increase the number of students majoring in STEM subjects. The move surprised and concerned many faculty members, who publicly questioned the wisdom and long-term implications of such a far-reaching decision.

More than 200 faculty members attended an unusually crowded faculty assembly last week to discuss their continuing efforts to learn more about the planned 20 percent cut from the undergraduate population and 11 percent increase in STEM majors by 2024. There was nearly unanimous agreement for the Faculty Senate to dig deeper into the methods that determined the enrollment shifts as part of the university's five-year strategic plan. ...

Faculty members had hoped the meeting would be an opportunity for LeBlanc to address their concerns about budgetary constraints their various departments may face as a result of the enrollment cut and STEM focus, said Bernard Wood, a professor in the department of anthropology. Instead, Wood said LeBlanc “lectured” faculty members rather than participating in a discussion of what the plan will mean for the university’s future. ... Members of the audience applauded after Wood told LeBlanc he lost the opportunity to engage in a substantive discussion with faculty members by repeating the same talking points he'd used when the strategic plan was announced. ...

But it’s unclear to faculty members, even those who sit on the committees, whether funds will be cut from academic departments to compensate for the loss in tuition over five years, said Katrin Schultheiss, chair of the history department and a member of the High-Quality Undergraduate Education Committee.

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