Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

GW clarifies stance on enrollment caps

Reacting to neighbors’ fears, the University released a letter last week maintaining it is not lobbying District officials to remove campus population caps.

Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Asher Corson questioned GW’s role in lifting population caps at last week’s ANC meeting, prompting Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz to write a letter addressing the concerns.

In the letter, Katz defended the University, saying the topic of GW’s employee caps was raised and discussed at a job summit held by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in December. He said, however, no lobbying or discussion of the issue has taken place with members of Gray’s administration since.

“It was suggested by Commissioner Corson that as a follow-up to this forum that GW has been engaging with District officials to further this issue. This is not the case,” Katz said. “GW has done no lobbying and has had no discussions regarding this topic with members of the administration.”

Katz said the University is “not engaged in an attempt to circumvent its commitments under the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan,” referring to GW’s 20-year development plan which limits the number of students who can live and study on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

Corson cited a recent Hatchet article during the ANC meeting, which discussed the possibility of removing population caps for D.C. colleges.

Corson told University officials at the meeting he was confused by statements Knapp made in the article about GW hosting a future summit with civic and business leaders and University experts to discuss opportunities for job creation for D.C. residents.

“As far as I can see, you guys have 12,000 spaces for faculty, of which 6,815 are full. The only cap I see you close to is the student enrollment cap, so I don’t understand how caps have anything to do with jobs… and I’m sorry I’m upset, but I am,” Corson said.

A Washington Examiner article reported in December that Gray was open to the idea of removing D.C. university student and employee population caps, but said he would need to look at the potential job growth that the abolishment of the caps could bring.

Gray told the Examiner he would also need to look at the reasons for the caps, citing tensions between neighbors of universities in the past.

A spokeswoman for Gray couldn’t be reached to comment for this story.

Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans said at the Foggy Bottom Association meeting Tuesday night that he spoke to Gray about the issue following the Examiner’s article, advising him that removing population caps was a bad idea.

“It sounded like the mayor was interested in lifting the cap on students. I quickly went to Vince and said, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ We worked so hard to get [caps] in place, that’s the last thing we want to do,” Evans said.

Evans added he hasn’t seen any lobbying on the issue since the summit.

University President Steven Knapp told The Hatchet in the same article Corson cited that he wasn’t aware of further discussions about the removal of population caps, and the University hasn’t engaged in any lobbying on the issue. Knapp declined to comment in that story on whether he was for or against removing the caps in the campus plan, saying instead that he thought “any discussion about the future of the caps for GW and for all other D.C. universities should take place in the context of a broader plan for the economic well-being of the District.”

In an interview after receiving Katz’s letter, Corson said he is pleased with Katz’s response, adding that the speed of the response – the day after the ANC meeting – was encouraging.

“Also, I think it’s important to have GW on the record,” Corson said about the University’s position on population caps.

Although Corson said he’s happy with the letter, he would have liked to see a response on University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s role on Mayor Vincent Gray’s transition team.

Trachtenberg was a member of Gray’s transition team, where he focused on economics and job creation. Corson said he thinks Trachtenberg’s position on the transition team correlated with the discussion of population caps at GW, as the University grew dramatically over Trachtenberg’s nearly 20-year tenure.

“I was hoping that they would make it clear that Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s role on the transition [team] was in no way connected to the University,” Corson said.

Trachtenberg said Wednesday that in his role as a professor, he’s just an observer on the population cap issue. He added that his job serving the mayor on the transition team was to explain the alternatives, as he is neutral on the issue.

He said he had a view on the issue of caps when he was president, but that it would be “inappropriate to opine” about it now.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet