With athletic department watching closely, teams find academic success by The GW HatchetDec 06, 2013 “Just a few hours before the men’s basketball team tipped off in their win against Manhattan two weeks ago, head coach Mike Lonergan scheduled a makeshift team study hall off the hotel lobby instead of sneaking in an extra practice on an unfamiliar court.
It was the peak of midterms, so even if the game had ended in a GW loss, Lonergan said he would not have regretted his decision. For Lonergan, Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero, and the NCAA, getting players to complete their degrees has become just as important as winning a championship, even if it means tackling problems head on.
“I’m very hands on for a coach and if I have problems, I’ll call the mothers,” Lonergan said. “You know, it’s better for us to call them in October and tell them, 'Your son’s not spending enough time on academics,' instead of waiting until the report cards come out in December.”
The focus on the classroom and not just the court has intensified under Nero. The third-year athletic director has brought with him a philosophy that student-athletes' top priority, just like other undergraduates, should be academics.
He enforced a mandatory class attendance policy and began requiring eight hours of study halls each week. He, as well as coaches, receives regular progress reports from professors about the athletes’ grades and participation in classes.
It sounds simple, but the structured system with renewed efforts at communication, accountability and oversight is starting to get results.
The men’s basketball team, which has historically had one of the worst academic records at GW, saw its cumulative GPA rise from 2.2 to 3.0 in just three years.
As recently as 2006, the team’s six-year graduation rate was stuck at 60 percent. But Nero said last year’s team boasted a 100 percent graduation rate.
Grades and graduation rates have climbed across the board, with 22 of the 23 Colonial teams reaching a combined 3.0 GPA. Just the men’s squash team fell below that threshold.
Part of Nero’s approach is holding players accountable as students, he said, calling students out on missing assignments or falling asleep in class if he runs into them in the Smith Center. He said athletes buy into the model because they’re already prone to the structure.
“They’re used to coaches, whether it’s high school or club or college, holding them accountable every single day,” Nero said.
Nero has also made new head coaching hires – about a half dozen since 2011 – bringing in people who share in his philosophy and will push for their athletes to perform in the classroom. Upperclassman athletes said they have noticed a shift.
“We focus a lot on academics, and to be honest, we’ve had some of our best years academically in the past few years. But I would say most of the older kids previously, who have now graduated, were not that way,” said senior men’s soccer forward Tyler Ranalli, a finance major.
Another key element is showing students that he’s serious: Nero said coaches have pulled athletes out of starting lineups for not going to class.
“The first time somebody is suspended for not going to class, it quickly spreads to the rest of the teams and then everybody's in class the next morning,” he said.
The athletic department has some history to battle against. When Karl Hobbs was men’s basketball head coach in 2006, the team came under harsh scrutiny after the Washington Post found that two top players came to GW from high schools that were more like diploma mills. The team was also hit with a scholarship reduction because of poor academic performance in 2007-08.
Last year, GW’s flagship program, men’s basketball, earned its best NCAA academic performance rate, scoring far beyond the threshold for postseason eligibility. Programs like women’s basketball and men’s soccer saw their scores slightly slip.
The NCAA has tightened academic rules in recent years, hitting basketball powerhouses like UConn with sanctions as harsh as postseason bans. The NCAA has tried to raise academic standards in recent years for student-athletes – who often receive big scholarship money.
“Whether that’s study hall or in-house tutors, or a really good working relationship with learning center, it’s becoming a higher priority across the country,” said Mark Jones, a legal counsel with the law firm ICE Miller who has represented both GW and Georgetown. “I think a lot of it has to do with NCAA changing the rules. I think that’s been a good thing.”
When senior women’s soccer defender and exercise science major Melanie Keer came to GW, she said the structure helped her transition, but was also “kind of a pain, I’m not going to deny that.”
While academics are a priority, Keer said that doesn’t mean athletics aren't just as important. Coaches still expect focus from their players, not letting them miss practices to write a paper or study for a final.
“You came to be a D1 athlete. You’re not D2, D3. You could have done that,” she said. “Being D1, there’s still expectations that you’re going to get your work done. You might pull an all-nighter and then go to practice the next day, but you’re going to do both.”
At first, Nero said some students were taken aback by athletic department staff constantly asking about class and assignments, which he said can sometimes feel like the badgering of a parent.
“But we’re at the point now that they embrace it, they understand it, and they appreciate that it’s in their best interest,” he said. “It’s not somebody just trying to get in their business. We’re going to keep you on track.” - Sarah Ferris contributed to this report”
Snapshot by The GW HatchetDec 06, 2013 “Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor Sophomore Christian Yip flips burgers Wednesday during the Buff Out tailgate in G Street Park across from the Smith Center. The men's basketball team defeated Rutgers 93-87, marking the team's seventh win of the season and drawing bigger crowds to games.”
GW grabs national spotlight with upset over No. 20 Creighton by The GW HatchetDec 03, 2013 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Kevin Larsen led GW with 14 points and six rebounds in the Colonials' shocking win over Creighton Sunday night.
It was supposed to be a rout.
It was supposed to be a bounce-back win for a No. 20 Creighton team that was predicted to win the Wooden Legacy.
It was supposed to be nothing more than an unexpected non-conference matchup that would bolster the Colonials’ strength of schedule.
Instead, it was the biggest win for GW basketball in almost a decade – the Colonials' first win over a ranked opponent since 2005 .
The 60-53 upset should inject even more confidence into the 6-1, well-balanced Colonials team that still has plenty of tests ahead. The win also sealed a third-place finish in the Wooden Legacy tournament after GW beat Miami on Thanksgiving Day .
Creighton forward Doug McDermott sat on the sidelines, his head in a towel, as sophomore guard Joe McDonald sank two free throws to put the game out of reach in the final seconds. It was a more than frustrating night for the All-American McDermott, who scored just seven points on 2-12 shooting, well below his season average of 27.8 points per game.
Senior forward Isaiah Armwood was kryponite to McDermott’s shooting. All night long, Armwood hounded McDermott with sound defense, battling him in the post and not allowing him to hit a field goal in the entire second half. Armwood would finish the night with 12 points, but his biggest numbers were his four blocks and zero fouls.
"We talked about doubling him [McDermott], but we figured that's probably why they make their threes, so we tried to mix it up," head coach Mike Lonergan said. "We doubled him sometimes with McDonald, we let Isaiah play him straight up and then we played 1-3-1 to try to pack it around him if he got the ball. And Isaiah didn't get in foul trouble which was our biggest fear."
Lonergan's decisions proved masterful, keeping the Bluejays offense off-balance all night by switching in-and-out of man and zone defense. Creighton would shoot just 33.9 percent on the night, while turning the ball over 13 times.
Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen also awakened from an offensive hibernation, leading the Colonials with 14 points and six rebounds. It was Larsen’s tricky up-and-under basket with less than a minute left that gave GW its final lead.
He proved to be the spark to a Colonials offense that completely reversed its play from Friday, when they shot 33 percent from the field and 21 percent from the three against Marquette. GW would shoot 44 percent from behind the arc Sunday, jumping out to as big as a 13-point lead in the first half.
Four Colonials, including Larsen and Armwood, would finish in double figures, with McDonald and sophomore guard Kethan Savage finishing with 12 and 10 points, respectively. GW's offense, which went stale at times in the second half, was fluid and effortless in the first half. The Colonials would finish the night with 15 assists, a testament to the team's strong ball movement and selflessness.
Larsen had the unfortunate task on defense of guarding the sharp-shooting Ethan Wragge. A perimeter big man, who shoots 95 percent of his shots from behind the arc, was the surprising Colonial killer, leading the Bluejays with 16 points off the bench. His three-pointer with 6:16 left in the second half gave Creighton its first lead of the entire game – a lead they wouldn’t be able to hold onto, though.
Six consecutive points from Armwood, a huge defensive strip from McDonald and six straight free throws from a Colonials team that has struggled at the line all year and that was it. The Colonials shocked the Bluejays. "There were two teams that wanted a win badly today, so it was low scoring, but it was definitely a high-level game, kind of like a heavyweight fight," Lonergan said. "Two teams banging eachother in a defensive battle."”
Administrator on the front lines of student crises to leave GW by The GW HatchetNov 19, 2013 “Updated Nov. 18, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
For 14 years, Tara Pereira has been on the front lines of students’ most sensitive conflicts. She's walked victims through the steps of reporting sexual assaults, searched students’ rooms for drugs and even fended off a drunken attack from a recently expelled student.
But Pereira has now decided to put her family first. After her mother was rushed to the hospital last week and her 5-year-old daughter started kindergarten this fall, Pereira said she will step down next month as GW’s sexual harassment and discrimination coordinator.
Media Credit: Photo Courtesy of Tara Pereira
Tara Pereira, who oversees the University's responses to sexual assault cases, will step down in December after 14 years at GW. She said she wants to spend more time with her daughter, Sofia.
“Working with survivors is a very high burnout job,” Pereira said. “I cannot go home at night and not worry about the students that I worry about during the day. That’s just not me.”
Her departure leaves GW without the administrator who helped retool some of the most contentious corners of student life, like the drugs and alcohol disciplinary process , Greek life hazing and the sexual assault policy .
She currently oversees GW’s efforts to prevent and respond to instances of sexual violence, taking on new cases at least once or twice a week. As her work load piles up, she said she's had to miss too many Girl Scouts and parent-teacher meetings.
“I was at the point where I felt, ‘Either I need to rearrange what this job does or I need to step out,’” Pereira, 39, said. “I just felt that, unless I made a significant decision, I was either going to shortchange GW or shortchange my family. And I’m not comfortable with either of those answers.”
Part of her passion for the job, she said, stems from her experience dealing with her parents’ heroin use and her father’s drinking problem. In her final year overseeing the University’s judicial arm in 2012, Pereira created a support group for students battling addictions to drugs and alcohol.
One of the students in that recovery group, Timothy Rabolt, called Pereira a “guardian angel,” and said the news of her resignation was “shockingly hard to deal with.”
“She always had solutions for the kinds of problems we thought were unsolvable,” said Rabolt, who has worked to overcome a prescription drug addiction. “We’ll be all right, but it won’t be the same.”
Sophomore Maya Weinstein, who has worked with Pereira and knew her well, reaffirmed Pereira's commitment to students.
“She is one of those people who you can call at 10 o’clock at night and she’ll pick up and then you can’t get her off the phone,” Weinstein said.
Pereira said she’s also dealt with dark moments in the campus judicial process, which she led from 2003 to 2012. About a decade ago, she said a student threatened to stand on top of a building and shoot her as she walked by. A year after Pereira started as a residence hall director, the Sept. 11 attacks shut down the city and she spent 48 hours waiting out the terror with students in Thurston Hall.
Despite the intensity, Pereira said she loved wearing different “hats” during her time at GW, sitting down one-on-one with students and working in the thick of GW’s administrative processes.
‘A steadfast advocate’
Before Pereira took the helm at Student Judicial Services, students were punished if campus police officers found empty liquor bottles used as decorations in their rooms, and hundreds of students were removed from residence halls every year for first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Pereira called her revolution of the judicial system a “big point of pride” in her GW career.
“Nobody wants to like a judicial system. I mean, who wants to be punished for things?” Pereira said. “But I felt like we were able to break down some barriers by the way we were repackaging the system.”
But she decided to move on from judicial affairs in 2012, taking on a two-year effort to strengthen GW’s sexual violence codes in line with federal benchmarks.
One of Pereira’s early attempts to reshape the policy came under fire for limiting the amount of time victims had to file formal complaints with the University. Several months later, the University removed the deadline, a move that student leaders lauded.
Matthew Scott, the president of Students Against Sexual Assault, said Pereira was a “steadfast advocate” who brought the student voice into closed-door discussions within the administration.
“She cares about students, first and foremost, and she has proved that every step along the way,” Scott said.
The road to GW and the transition out
Pereira spent both her undergraduate and graduate years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, contemplating a degree in adolescent development. But she started to reconsider after she took a job in the dean of students’ office and watched administrators mentor her peers.
“I had no idea that working with college students was a profession when I was younger,” Pereira said. “And that just changed my entire trajectory.”
Pereira thought she would stay in Massachusetts, where her single mother and tight-knit extended family had always lived. But after a friend encouraged her to interview at GW, she fell in love with the campus and immediately accepted the job offer.
Now, as Pereira wraps up open cases and investigations, she and Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed will transition her workload to someone new. Her last day in the position will be Dec. 13.
Pereira plans to use her expertise in anti-discrimination and sexual assault policies as a consultant to help guide other universities in shaping their policies.
At the same time, she will lead her daughter’s Girl Scouts troop and sit as vice president of her school’s Parent Teacher Association. Her mother, along with her two cats, will leave Boston to move closer to her this winter.
Pereira said she may return once her daughter Sofia, who has grown up on GW’s campus, is older.
Pereira said when she told Sofia she was not going to work at GW anymore, the 5-year-old burst into tears and asked if she could still go to the basketball games. “But I don’t think I’ll stay away from a college campus forever. I just can’t,” Pereira said. “It’s an emotional experience. That is for sure. I’m really sad about leaving.””
After 14-month review, officials suggest tweaks to GW's compliance rules by The GW HatchetNov 11, 2013 “At the end of a 14-month internal study of its workplace culture, a group of top officials gave positive marks to GW for meeting or exceeding nearly all national standards of compliance.
The faculty-led task force proposed 35 policy changes to add safeguards for minors and promote a culture of transparency at GW, with about half of those proposals already completed or set in motion.
Top leaders must now decide whether to take steps such as expanding background checks for all new faculty, improving training for trustees and banning pornography on GW information systems.
University President Steven Knapp launched the review in July 2012 as an attempt to uncover potential gaps in leadership that could perpetuate a scandal like the decade of child abuse uncovered at Penn State. He said considering and, possibly implementing, the proposals would be a long process, and any issues with GW’s culture were “always the hardest ones to work on.”
Ten of the ideas have been handed to senior leaders for approval, though the review's co-leader Doug Shaw, an associate dean in the Elliott School of International Affairs, said none were “hard recommendations” to address glaring issues.
While some proposals, such as hiring a compliance office for the athletics department, bore financial considerations, none involved such major “resource constraints" that they could not happen.
“I don’t think there’s anything we couldn’t do readily,” he said. “The question is, are we comfortable with the scope of where we are?”
Knapp said expanded background checks is “something we’re going to look at,” as colleges across the country do more to dig into a professor’s past before hiring them. The University already conducts about 1,000 checks per year for its staff hires, which Knapp said raises another question: “‘If it’s fair for staff, why isn’t it fair for faculty?”
Sabrina Ellis, the vice president for human resources, said her office would “definitely need more resources” to hold the 250 or so background checks each year for new professors.
She added that while GW "took proactive steps early on to conduct background checks for staff, the broader conversation around background checks in higher education has recently evolved to include faculty."
The University has already updated its policies for minors visiting campus, outlining signs of abuse or neglect of minors, listing “dos” and “don’ts” for interacting with people under 18 years old and providing contact information to report suspicious activity.
“Basically, as the steering committee recognized and identified what the University needed to do, they didn’t just wait. They said, ‘Let’s get going and start the processes to get these things done,’” University spokeswoman Candace Smith said.
To further increase security for children, the report calls for a University-wide protocol for working with minors on or off campus.
GW may also create a specific ban on viewing or storing pornography on “university information systems.” University policies already prohibit students and faculty from using GW computers in an “obscene, harassing, or otherwise inappropriate manner.”
But schools such as Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Dartmouth universities explicitly forbid using their information technology to access child pornography, and the University of Virginia bans retrieving any sexually explicit material.
The 22-page report calls on administrators to consider hiring more full-time employees to handle compliance with NCAA standards. The University, which enrolls the second-highest number of athletes compared to its peer institutions in the A-10, now has one of the smallest compliance staffs.
The University-wide review was launched in July 2012 under the leadership of Senior Vice President and General Counsel Beth Nolan and nearly a dozen other top administrators.
To carry out those recommendations, GW created another task force led by Shaw and professor Toni Marsh. Shaw said that team, which has already changed or is working to change 18 University policies, is meant to work in tandem with top leaders’ efforts.
“This was a consulting project more than an investigative project. We weren’t red-teaming the senior leaders. We were reliant on them for many reasons,” Shaw said. “They were compliant. There was no reason to suspect anything.”
Friday’s recommendations also include the work by a dean-led committee that evaluated whether GW’s culture encouraged employees to report concerns of potential University policy breaches.
That effort, spearheaded by former business school dean Doug Guthrie and nursing school dean Jean Johnson, included interviews with each dean and vice president across the University. Morphing into a long-term effort, the dean-led “Culture Project” will tackle issues of transparency and civility throughout the year.
GW is one of the first private universities in the nation to plan changes in light of the 2011 child sex abuse scandal. More than 60 other universities, mostly those with the country’s largest sports programs, have also reviewed and updated their practices after internal reviews. During Penn State’s investigation, former prosecutors and law enforcement officials hired by the law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan laid out 120 recommendations for restoring a broken structure of compliance.”
Faculty tensions flare up over governance by The GW HatchetNov 08, 2013 “Some faculty say they are alarmed that the Board of Trustees and administrators are overlooking professors’ role in governing the University, leaving them out of decisions about the faculty code and online courses.
Charles Garris, an engineering professor and chair of the professional ethics and academic freedom committee, will submit a resolution at Friday’s senate meeting, arguing that a task force that is revising the faculty code this year should submit their work to his committee and the senate for review before the Board votes to adopt it.
The code outlines rules like tenure and promotion, firings and academic freedom.
Media Credit: Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor
Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell led his first meeting as chairman last month. Some faculty are protesting the Board's process for reviewing the Faculty Code.
The small flashes of power struggle come after top administrators eased concerns from professors by involving them in plans to expand GW to China last month. The senate and top administrators had mostly worked in lockstep over the last few years, with few tensions flaring.
Garris said the code calls for faculty participation when rewriting it, and said they have been included each time the code was revised in at least the last 50 years. By submitting the resolution, Garris said he is trying to prevent a situation in which the Board could limit how much say faculty have in University policies, he said.
“I think the administration is not following the spirit of the faculty code, and I think that’s what people are bothered about,” Garris said. “But on the other hand, it could be rectified.”
Economics professor Donald Parsons said Board chair Nelson Carbonell did not respond to faculty concerns from September when he spoke of his plans at the Faculty Assembly two weeks later. He called it a fundamental change for the Board not to include the Faculty Senate in code revisions, which they have historically played a role in forming.
“I see this as moving this a step up to make sure that the trustees themselves don’t misunderstand the gravity of what chair Carbonell is doing,” Parsons said.
Carbonell told faculty at a University-wide faculty meeting in October that the Board wanted to update the code as GW prepared to act on its 10-year strategic plan, but did not outline specific rule changes. The code last underwent a major revision in 2004.
In September, he said a task force of board members and faculty would hold meetings with professors in the fall to discuss changes to the code. He said they hoped to have recommendations in December or January.
“You may be skeptical and there’s nothing I can do about that, but the Board would like to make sure we have looked at this and there’s alignment,” Carbonell said at the meeting.
He told faculty that the Board had “no desire to create an adversarial process,” adding that he did not think it would become a conflict.
Garris said faculty could face a similar situation Friday, when Provost Steven Lerman will disucss a new policy regarding the administration’s accessibility of online courses.
The provost’s office announced last week that administrators could give auditors and outside researchers access to online course materials “at its discretion.”
In an email obtained by The Hatchet, Phil Wirtz, vice dean of programs and education in the GW School of Business, objected to the policy because it was created without faculty input and professors would have no “knowledge that such surveillance is occurring.”
“This would appear to be a clear trampling of Faculty rights,” he wrote.
Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online education and academic innovation, said the University made the move was reason to streamline the compliance process the University must follow legally and for accreditation. “Sometimes this access must be granted on an expedited basis, making it not feasible to track down every faculty member that may be involved in order to get individualized permission, and since these are legal or accreditation requirements, it is not something that is optional in any event,” he said in an email.”
With help from conference foes, Colonials secure first A-10 berth in 11 years by The GW HatchetNov 05, 2013 “Dayton took care of Saint Joseph's, 140 miles north of the District. Over in Richmond, Va., Saint Louis shut out VCU.
With those results, the women's soccer team was in control of their own fate heading into Sunday's matchup: a win over Richmond, and the Colonials would make their first postseason appearance since 2002.
Responding to the high stakes, the Colonials came through with one of their best games of the season, shutting out the Spiders with a 2-0 victory off of two free-kick goals.
As the seventh-seed in the tournament, GW (7-5-5, 3-2-2) will face second-seed team La Salle (13-4-2, 5-2-1) Thursday at 11 a.m.
“This is the time to peak, this is the time to play well. We played phenomenal last Sunday, we played well today and got it done, and that’s what we want going into the tournament,” senior Jane Wallis said after the Senior Day win.
The first half was a tight battle between both teams, as each side fought back-and-forth for possession. The Richmond offense put quick pressure on senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick, with a scoring attempt in the first minute that Ulrick handled with ease.
The Spiders eventually grabbed the momentum, creating more opportunities as they controlled the ball in GW's defensive third. But the Colonials defense stood firm and held them scoreless.
A Richmond foul just outside of their penalty box quickly changed the game in GW's favor.
With both teams trading possession and control once again, sophomore Kristi Abbate found success in the midfield, tearing through the Richmond defenders and creating opportunities for her teammates.
“Kristi had a really good day, obviously, running at them,” head coach Sarah Barnes said after the game.
On one of Abbate's cuts through the midfield, she was tripped up right outside of the box.
Sophomore Brooke Bean hit a shot off the ensuing free kick that bounced right off O’Brien and into the back of the net, putting GW in position to clinch its postseason berth.
“I’ve practiced all season on my free kick and it just happened,” Bean said. “I just kind of hit it and luckily it bounced around with the keeper and went in.”
The Colonials would take that 1-0 lead into the break – just 45 minutes away from the A-10 playoffs.
Wallis nearly doubled the margin to start the half, with a shot that O’Brien narrowly pushed over the bar, but the Colonials kept the pressure on, forcing 2 corners and 3 quality, but missed, scoring opportunities.
In the 68th minute, Richmond nearly got the goal they were searching for, when forward Violet Miller ripped a shot on goal from the top of the box. Ulrick was there again, though, to tip the ball over the bar and preserve the lead.
“I was mad I didn’t somehow catch it,” Ulrick said of her parry. “I didn’t want to give them a corner.”
Any hope Richmond had off of a come back was squashed minutes later when junior Elizabeth Casey found herself with a free kick from thirty yards out. She struck a long ball to the upper left corner of the net that edged past O’Brien and into the netting, effectively spurring GW into the postseason.
“We go over them [set pieces] before every game day, so we’ve had to focus a lot,” said Casey after the match. “We had to let it go and play soccer, play our game.”
Despite pushing up for the remainder of the match, the Spiders were unable to break through the GW defense, and the Colonials walked away with a historic 2-0 win and a ticket to this week’s A-10 Championships.
“We said to them, look, this is in your hands, you have the opportunity to finish this game off, but it's gonna demand that you keep your foot on the pedal and I think they responded really well to it,” added Barnes. With the victory, the Colonials will head down to Richmond, not to face the Spiders again, but to compete in the A-10 playoffs for the first time in over a decade.”
Pushing for transparency, enrollment manager quietly tried to fix admissions messaging by The GW HatchetOct 25, 2013 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Laurie Koehler, newly hired senior associate provost for enrollment management, said Friday that GW is not need-blind, after officials told applicants for years that GW does not consider financial need. Hatchet File Photo.
Updated Oct. 25, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
Shortly after Laurie Koehler took charge of the University’s admissions and financial aid offices three months ago, she realized that GW was misleading prospective students about how it decided its freshman class.
She reviewed GW-stamped materials and presentations, trying to clean up an admissions office that had also admitted to reporting inflated rankings data last year. But, she said, administrators failed to notice that the website still heralded GW as need-blind.
“It became apparent that we were not consistently telling the full story about the role of financial need in our admissions process,” Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management, said in an email Wednesday.
That discrepancy came to light Monday, when a Hatchet report spread nationally and the University’s plans to quietly change years of misleading marketing fell to pieces.
The University came under fire for misleading applicants about its need-aware policy, which is used at several top schools, and pushes admissions officers to waitlist some students who need more financial aid than their peers. The policy helps colleges meet more financial need for the rest of its top applicants, administrators and experts say.
Koehler issued an apology for the University’s false messaging Tuesday.
Multiple officials, including University President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman and former president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, said this week that they did not know GW’s admissions policy was being falsely communicated.
In an interview Thursday, Knapp insisted that he would not “jump to conclusions” about whether admissions officers misrepresented GW’s admissions practices because he doesn’t have “any direct evidence.” That comes two days after he acknowledged in an email that “I understand some admissions officials have used that term [need-blind] in the past” and vowed to look into the misstep.
“I know the accusations were made that people were deliberately misrepresenting this stuff. I don’t know that that was true. We have to find out whether that's actually true,” Knapp said Thursday. “I don’t want to accuse people of things prematurely.”
Knapp added that he is committed to ensuring that admissions representatives are trained to accurately communicate the admissions policy, a task he has entrusted to Koehler.
“I just want to make sure we're clarifying what we're doing and the way we talk about things is the way they're actually happening,” Knapp said. “I’ve been committed to that all along. That's why we cleaned up the way we were [reporting rankings data] last year.”
Koehler has pledged to ensure GW’s need-aware policy is accurately portrayed, after an admissions representative told prospective families in an information session Saturday that applications are reviewed without considering financial need.
“I am going to continue to insist that what we say about our practices matches what we do,” Koehler said.
The University announced it would hire an enrollment manager in April 2012 to replace roles previously held by long-serving senior vice president Robert Chernak. Later that year, the admissions office faced another leadership shift. Its previous head, Kathryn Napper, stepped down in December after GW was kicked off the US News & World Report’s best colleges ranking for inflating admissions data.
Since Koehler arrived at GW this summer, she said she has been on her “own fact-finding mission” to not only better understand GW’s applicant pool and student body, but also to help the University better achieve its enrollment goals.
She has now vowed to rebound off the University’s misstep and said she will turn the need-aware policy into a “selling point,” by emphasizing the policy enables GW to meet a larger portion of students’ financial need.
“The admissions practices at GW have not changed with regard to how financial aid requests are factored in,” Koehler said. “What has changed is the new leadership – this includes myself – and what we are trying to do is increase the level of transparency about the admissions process.”
That candor came across in her first interview with The Hatchet in September, when she said she faced an uphill climb reviewing the admissions office’s practices because it was difficult to find “where data is stored and what data is captured and what it’s called.”
Administrators, including Knapp, have emphasized that Koehler’s new leadership marks a shift toward greater transparency and accurate communication from an office that has now twice been hit by publicity blows.
Officials who previously worked closely with Napper, including Director of Admissions Karen Felton and Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small, declined through a spokeswoman to sit for interviews this week. Koehler also declined a phone call through a spokeswoman, and only provided email responses.
Though student leaders said they were taken aback when they learned admissions representatives had inaccurately called GW need-blind, many said they trusted Koehler to steer the office on track.
Student Association president Julia Susuni, who meets monthly with Koehler, said she received a call from Koehler immediately after news broke this week. After learning the nuances of the policy, Susuni said she and Koehler planned ways for the admissions office to more effectively communicate with students.
“She's been great in terms of wanting to be transparent with the entire community,” Susuni said. “I have a lot of confidence in her ability to be honest.”
Sen. Nick Gumas, CCAS-U, who had also previously met with Koehler, lauded her efforts to be more transparent.
The SA Senate passed a resolution applauding the admissions office for “publicly accepting their mistakes,” on Monday, while calling for greater transparency from the office. Gumas said Koehler was doing everything that could be expected of her. “We are really happy to see an administrator who is working to mitigate the problems at hand,” he said.”
Icelandic men's soccer play, long way from home, steadies defense for GW by The GW HatchetOct 16, 2013 “Media Credit: Hatchet file photo by Cameron Lancaster
Junior defender Andri Alexandersson moves the ball up field during an exhibition match earlier this season.
Watch Andri Alexandersson anchor the Colonials’ defense during any men’s soccer game and he will seem perfectly in his element. Off the soccer field, though, that’s not the case.
Three years ago, Alexandersson moved to the U.S. from a small port town called Akranes on the western coast of Iceland. With a population of about 6,600, the town was jokingly called a “postage stamp” by an Icelandic television personality because it is so off the beaten track.
Now, Alexandersson’s path to playing soccer at GW brought him 5,000 miles from home, to two different universities, and finally, to being the only Icelandic student at GW last year. As a junior and a co-captain, Alexandersson takes his international perspective onto the field with him.
“I think what’s most different is because the sport is so popular in Europe, I’ve grown up playing it all my life. I’ve watched it for 15 years and I started playing it when I was four years old,” he said. “It’s been my passion for such a long time and my understanding of the game is maybe what I have over the other players.”
Alexandersson is exclusively a defensive player, but he is seasoned enough to be a play-maker on both ends of the field. His field vision has led to his five shots on goal – ranking him third on the team – even from his position on the back line.
The confidence and leadership that comes from his understanding of the game was key for the team on Friday, as the Colonials’ defense went wire to wire with Dayton – the nation’s highest scoring team – holding them to a shutout tie.
When not worrying about a big game, Alexandersson said that it has been easy to maintain a connection with those at home because he is always being checked up on.
“People back home are really interested in what I’m doing here,” he said. “People are interested in what I’m doing because it’s different than what everyone else is doing. I talk to a lot of people.”
Head coach Craig Jones said that, as far as soccer was concerned, Alexandersson was well-adjusted.
“His initial changes were already made by the time we saw him, and he was familiar with the college game,” Jones said.
That comfort and consistency with the game is definitive of Alexandersson, who played every minute in 16 out of 17 games last season. Jones said that was no accident, calling Alexandersson “calm” and “composed” on the field.
So far this season, Alexandersson has continued his steady defense and is one of just four players on the team to start every game he has played in. His 657 minutes are the fourth most among his teammates.
Choosing to pursue soccer in Iceland could have prevented Alexandersson from going to college at all. He said it was “hard to say” whether or not he would have pursued a degree there, and that continuing to play in Iceland’s club system would have been what would have made it difficult to do so.
He said he left his home country because he was “tired of the same old same old.” Alexandersson said that he “just started emailing coaches,” eventually winding up as a freshman on the soccer team at Florida International University. After just a year in Miami, though, he transferred to GW.
But besides the adjustment to the American college game – which is faster and more physical, but less technical than soccer in Iceland – being away from home came as a shock. “The first few weeks after I moved away I was like ‘Wow, what did I just do?’ but you have to move away sometimes,” he said.”
In EDM boom, student DJs seize stage by The GW HatchetOct 14, 2013 “The DJs weave in and out of beats, occasionally letting up to feed The Huxley nightclub’s ravenous 20-somethings bits of familiarity – 30 seconds of an REM or Lana Del Rey song – before returning to their blitz of house music.
Crowds have swelled lately for the weekend shows of seniors Nick Rouner and Ernesto “Andres” Stewart, who make up DJ group Nick & Andres . The duo has become a fixture of the D.C. house and electronic dance music scene, frequenting clubs like Heist and Lima, and recently commanding a 4,000-person crowd at the Life in Color festival.
They try to be social psychologists of the after-hours, reading the shimmering bodies on the dance floor, deftly charting the night’s course through a practiced union of eye and ear.
“On a base level, technically, anyone can do it,” Stewart said. “It’s about being able to read different crowds and read different environments you’re in.”
Hosting huge festivals like Sensation America, Electric Zoo and Ultra Music, cities like New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami are house music’s American strongholds. But D.C.’s EDM scene is burgeoning – Club Glow at Echostage and Ultrabar were voted top venues by David Guetta in DJ Magazine’s 2010 poll.
“The first gig I ever played here, they had a DJ booth off in a side room,” Stewart said. “Today, the scene has definitely grown. People have gotten more into it.”
Mainly self-taught, Rouner and Stewart were both introduced to house music late in high school, and gradually built up the skills and technological understanding inherent to DJ-ing.
The two met their freshman year and formed their musical partnership – along with manager and GW senior Eddie Wharton – after playing and producing together in their free time.
And they started at the right time. Mohamed Kamal, founder of D.C.-based music production training company Audyolab, said the demand for house and electronic music has “probably doubled” in the last eight years.
Kamal runs intensive workshops for aspiring DJs and electronic artists across D.C., teaching music software mastery.
“Technology has democratized the creation of music. If you want to learn guitar, you need to understand the instrument itself, the strings, the notes, the technique between strumming versus picking,” Kamal said. “The way we teach through laptops is the same thing – the technique of the laptop instrument.”
Today, D.C. hosts dozens of house and EDM shows attached to big names like Afrojack and Nicky Romero. Trillectro, which celebrates the junction of hip-hop and electronica, took place this August. Life in Color, a house concert series that washes their crowds in neon paint, took over RFK Stadium in late September.
Rouner, also a jazz bassist, said marketing is key to differentiating the faces behind the turntable in a widening pool of aspiring DJs, .
“There is an innate musical sense and rhythmic timing that people have to have. Not all DJs play instruments. It’s a lot about knowing how to brand yourself,” Rouner said. “Anyone can become a DJ, but it’s, ‘How do you get out there?’”
Kamal, who also founded Gigturn, a social media platform where DJs can share their music and producers can connect DJs with venues, said EDM workshops now factor in branding and marketing.
“Most big talent agencies and artist labels will look at your Facebook fan count,” Komal said. “It shows that you are diligent in creating your fan base, and what you’ve been up to, that you really care.”
Kamal said Gigturn conducted a market study of demand for music production programs, finding that in 2005, Google saw 6.1 million searches a month on how to not only make house music but get gigs.
This summer, Kamal said that number shot up to an average 128 million searches a month for those same services. In the heyday of house’s appeal and accessibility, Rouner and Stewart are preparing for an active round of performing, sitting on sets of unreleased tracks. “We never set out to be big DJs,” Stewart said. “But we see our productions, and our edits and our reception to be mostly positive, and we’d like to see it grow.””
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