Monday, April 5, 2010

Shut Down SEAS

Think about what the University could do with this location if they re-dedicated its focus.

An editorial appeared in the GW Hatchet this morning countering last week's editorial from Economics Professor Donald Parsons, which argued that we should simply eliminate the School of Engineering if GW goes through with it's plan to buy out up to half of the faculty.
The letter this week was co-signed by Professors in various schools and departments, and argued that Engineering was an instrumental part of a college education, and that many of the jobs that students are going to want in to future would benefit from having someone with an engineering background in them.
They make several points about the importance of having a strong engineering school, but I think they really miss the mark on some of the items that they chose not to discuss. This sentence encapsulates the grater point that the letter is trying to make:
With proper investment to reach critical mass and capitalize on its location, GW's engineering school will fill a role - and this is a key point - that no other engineering school in the nation can: build a nexus between science, technology and policy that has the potential to shape future leaders.

While this may be true, it completely ignores the fact that instead of devoting further resources to the SEAS, they could instead chose to devote all of the resources currently being eaten up by them to another department. GW has one of the top Political Science and International Relations departments in the country, but why not give the resources for research and faculty that could put them at the very top? Science can be invested in through natural science departments, and technology through the Computer Sciences program. If the aim is really to "build a nexus between science, technology, and policy", then why not devote the resources DIRECTLY to each of those fields, instead of counting on people here to get a political management degree to take Engineering classes and give themselves a back door science education?
The fact is, GW will never be a top-level engineering school. Too many other universities have staked their success on programs like these, and will continue to draw the top students year after year. The best bet for GW would be to double down it's commitment to making themselves the best school they can be in the field that they already stand out in.
GW could use the classroom and faculty resources to provide students that come here because of GW's rising status as an elite institution in the a couple of fields to continue to grow the programs and foster a better environment. Every school has a specialty, and GW should not run away from theirs.

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