Undergraduate student experience hero with image of students studying

Student Experience Initiative




GW students deserve a positive and cohesive experience that begins during the admissions process, continues through their careers on campus and culminates with their transition to alumni status. Built on a foundation of integrity, creativity and openness to the exploration of new ideas, the university aims to foster a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity. 




  • Goal 1: Identify four to five areas in apparent need of improvement and begin to develop and make improvements immediately. (Complete; See Initiative Accomplishments)
  • Goal 2: Collaborate with the Board of Trustees’ Student Experience Task Force to gather student, faculty and staff feedback to establish principles to guide GW in its efforts to improve the student experience. (Complete; See Initiative Accomplishments - Community)
  • Goal 3: Continually identify, deliver, and measure improvements to the student experience to support six Guiding Principles:
    • Community: We are committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive community where all students and their perspectives and experiences are respected and valued.
    • Academics: We are committed to cultivating our students' intellectual growth by enabling exploration of the university’s comprehensive curriculum and academic opportunities. We value collaboration between faculty and students in creating new knowledge. We see our students as lifelong learners and change agents.
    • Safety & Well-Being: We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that promotes the health, safety and well-being of all students. We strive to support and empower students in their individual experiences.
    • Financial: We are committed to providing all GW students with access to an experience that reflects affordability, value and transparency.
    • Service: We are committed to creating a culture that reflects a student-centered approach to our services and operations.
    • FacilitiesWe are committed to a well maintained and intentionally designed physical infrastructure, recognizing the important roles that our space and facilities play in fostering student learning and community.


Initiative Accomplishments

GW Launches First-Year, First-Generation Residential Community

Started in fall 2018, the living community brings together first-generation students on a residential floor to live, learn and grow together in their first year at GW. The goal is for the residential community to foster connections among students and provide them with dedicated resources and opportunities to manage their transition to college.

Diversity Initiatives Mark Significant Progress
GW hired a diversity and inclusion training director, is implementing mandatory diversity training and will soon launch a website for reporting incidents of bias.


Inside GW Offers More Personalized Experience

GW implemented a new model for its “Inside GW” admitted student experience, bringing hundreds of prospective members of the class of 2022 to campus each weekday and one Saturday in April.


Guiding Principles and Emerging Goals Defined

Using insight gained from the Board of Trustees Student Experience listening tours, the Task Force developed six guiding principles, each with a set of emerging goals.

Read the Full Report (docx)


Student Experience Task Force Launched
To gain specific insight into the student experience and identify potential areas of improvement, the Board of Trustees’ Student Experience Task Force has hosted a series of discussion sessions—nine between November 2017 and February 2018—with undergraduate students. The task force will use insight gained from these discussions to develop a set of guiding principles that will offer the university direction in its ongoing work to enhance the student experience.



Funding for Five Undergraduate Sustainability Scholar Awards Provided

Through GW Libraries and Academic Innovation, and in partnership with SustainableGW, five Sustainability Scholar Awards will be available in January 2019. The awards give promising undergraduates the opportunity to conduct a well-defined research project under the guidance of a faculty member in their chosen fields of study.


Global Bachelor’s Program Expanded

The Global Bachelor’s Program is expanding to accommodate student interest by adding a second cohort in Belfast, North Ireland, starting in fall 2019. In previous years, more than 60 students applied for 30 openings. A second location will also appeal to those students interested in studying in another part of the world.


Enhanced GW Course Syllabus Bank
The enhanced syllabus bank streamlines the process for faculty to add syllabi to a database that students can search. This aims to increase faculty participation to create a more robust syllabi database.  As of September 2018, the database contained more than 630 syllabi, which is more than double the 290 available in 2017.


GW Launches Academic Commons
GW launched the Academic Commons website and “Ask Us Desk” in August 2018 and has received positive student feedback. Academic Commons provides streamlined access to existing academic support services online and in person at the concierge-style Ask Us Desk.


New Foggy Bottom Campus Crosswalk Enhances Safety

The university installed a safer and more accessible H Street crosswalk connecting District House and Kogan Plaza.


Code of Student Conduct Update Launches
Listening sessions for various GW constituencies will provide opportunities to educate students about the code and for GW to receive feedback on ways to improve it. To prepare for the comprehensive review, the GW Board of Trustees approved changes to bring the code up to date with current policies and practices.


GW Establishes Safety and Security Student Advisory Board
GW launched the Student Advisory Board to improve communications between the student body and campus safety leadership. The board now has 14 undergraduate and graduate students. The student members will drive conversations and determine the agenda throughout the year.


Counseling Accessibility Enhanced
Beginning with academic year 2018-19, the university will eliminate the fee for individual counseling sessions within the short-term stepped-care model, making the service more accessible to GW students.

University to Provide Nutritional Counseling
The Colonial Health Center plans to provide nutritional counseling by a dietitian whose services will ensure that care extends beyond the health center to a healthier student population overall.

Counseling on Virginia Campus
The Colonial Health Center plans to expand its counseling services to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.

GW to Implement New Comprehensive Title IX Policy
A unified policy puts in place a comprehensive review process for Title IX issues, which include sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, stalking and retaliation. All processes related to these issues will now be administered by the Title IX Office.


Undergraduate Tuition to Cover Up to 18 Credits

Beginning fall 2019, the undergraduate tuition rate will cover up to 18 credit hours per semester—up from the current 17-credit cap—in response to student feedback. The extra credit hour applies to both incoming and returning undergraduate students.


GW Increases Dining Plan Amounts for 2019-20 Academic Year

The Board of Trustees approved increased dining plans for academic year 2019-20 as part of the continual evaluation of dining plan needs.


Expansion and Addition of Cost-Effective Food Options

The university continues to offer new affordable and accessible food options for students. Recent improvements as of fall 2018 include:

  • Expansion of healthy, discounted dining pop-ups.

  • Continued expansion of Meal Deals to more than 25 of the more than 100 GWorld dining partners.

  • Pilot of monthly Whole Foods “Supermarket Sunday” program, which provides food discounts.

  • Virginia Science and Technology Campus weekly food truck visits, which offer graduate students additional affordable and convenient dining options.

  • Provision of pots, pans and utensils for all residence hall kitchens.


Student Fees Lowered
GW initiated an analysis of its fees and fines. Updated costs will more closely reflect the true cost of a service. These fees have changed to date:

  • Room key replacement: from $150 to $100

  • GWorld card replacement: from $35 to $25, including a card lanyard or phone holder

  • Gelman locker rentals: from $35 to $20 per semester

  • Printing charges: prices are modified to better reflect cost and promote double-sided printing


More Affordable Student Health Insurance Anticipated
Final costs of the GW health insurance plan for the 2018-19 academic year are expected to be $2,690, significantly lower than the 2017-18 rate of $4,103 for undergraduate students to purchase the plan. The new policy will remove barriers that prevent students from accessing necessary medical care and will also help students stay in school should they face any unexpected medical emergency.

University Announces All-You-Care-to-Eat Dining Option at Mount Vernon Campus
At students’ request, SAGE Dining Services will offer an all-you-care-to-eat venue at Pelham Commons, enhancing dining affordability on campus.

Financial Aid Budget Increased
The Board of Trustees approved a budget for fiscal 2019 that increases undergraduate and graduate students’ financial aid to $315 million in order to better support students.

Library Gift Opt-In Starting Fall 2018
Based on student feedback, beginning in fall 2018, the voluntary library gift, which has appeared on student account bills automatically each semester and required students to “opt-out,” will now be an option for which students can “opt-in” as they pay their tuition bills each semester.

University to Introduce New Dining Plan Fall 2018

In response to student and parent concerns, beginning fall 2018, the university will offer two dining plans based on undergraduate students’ residence hall assignments. Living assignments without a kitchen will include a $4,600-per-year dining plan while those with a kitchen will include a $2,800-per-year dining plan. The approach aims to more directly link students’ needs for dining funds by taking into account living arrangements, regardless of class year. It also increases by $500 per year the dining plan assigned to students living in a residence hall without an in-unit kitchen, which primarily applies to first year students .

Student Association, Division of Information Technology Partner to Automate the Store Processes
Based on requirements provided by students, the Division of Information Technology automated the process of requesting and granting anonymous access to the student-run food pantry the Store, volunteer sign-ups and volunteer training.


Student Experience to Be Enhanced with New Organizational Structure
The university has continued its efforts to enhance the student experience through a series of changes that will provide a unified, student-first structure to the recently formed Enrollment and the Student Experience (ESE) unit.


Cissy Petty Named Inaugural Dean of the Student Experience
Dr. Petty is known for her strategic leadership, thoughtful approach to student affairs and her passion for issues of diversity and equality. She has a reputation for ensuring that all students feel a deep connection and a sense of belonging to their college experience.


Colonial Health Center Electronic Records Launched
The Colonial Health Center (CHC) Electronic Health Record (EHR) system was launched in July 2018. Students can now access their CHC records electronically, upload their immunization records directly into the system for verification and check in for appointments in a reconfigured patient waiting area by entering their GWID at electronic kiosks. Clinical care improvements include electronic retrieval and update of student records, electronic prescribing, receipt of lab results directly into the EHR and the ability to provide care plans and educational information to students electronically.


GW Enhances Military, Veteran Student Resources

An increase in Yellow Ribbon Program benefits and the hiring of a new program manager are among the newly implemented changes.


Updated Withdrawal Policy Implemented
A new policy removes the course withdrawal deadline for undergraduates in five schools. This policy change was designed to decrease the number of administrative hurdles students face when they want to withdraw.


Marvin Center Catering Now More Flexible
Student organizations hosting events in the Marvin Center will have the ability to use a wide variety of caterers for drop-off service and choose from a list of established caterers for full-service catering functions.

University Launches One-Stop Shop for IT Requests
Students can use the new online application Digital Workplace to submit requests for technology repairs, phone preferences or general IT help.

Provost Announces Reorganization to Enhance Student Experience
In January 2018, GW Provost Forrest Maltzman announced the creation of a new organizational structure and approach—to be launched this summer under the leadership of Senior Vice Provost Laurie Koehler—that will provide a cohesive experience throughout all phases of the student lifecycle, from the admissions and enrollment process, through graduation and beyond.

Official Transcripts Now Available Electronically
Students and alumni can request and receive official GW transcripts directly through GWeb, the university announced in January 2018. The transition to electronic transcripts will make it easier to order and track the delivery of official transcripts, which can be requested 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Staff Offices Standardize Hours
In January 2018, the university changed internal practices to ensure that staff offices are consistently available during standard operating hours, including in advance of GW holidays.

GW Shows Commitment to Nursing Education

The university doubled the nursing simulation lab space and opened a new Student Success Center in fall 2018.


GW Makes Improvements to Student Space, Housing, Classrooms
Over summer 2018, GW was busy improving student spaces, updating various residence halls, academic buildings and Pelham Commons as well as improving outdoor student space.


Thurston Hall Renovations and New Residence Hall Funded
The university will use approximately $100 million for residence hall projects, including construction costs associated with a new residence hall and major renovations of Thurston Hall.


Study Spaces Website
Study Spaces, part of the new Academic Commons website, includes a mobile-optimized filterable database of study spaces, featuring photos, seating capacity, technology options, room features, and a link to the reservation system.


A New Life for the Flagg Building
The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design unveils new teaching and working spaces from signature redesign.

Student Space Access Increased
During the spring 2018 semester, GW increased student access to these spaces:

  • Athletic field on the Mount Vernon Campus, now available on Sunday nights

  • Duquès/Funger Hall, now open Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.

  • Corcoran Hall, now with additional study space

  • Phillips Hall, now with evening access for two large basement rooms for rehearsal space




Student Experience Working Group Participants

The Student Experience leadership team and the dean of each GW school identified faculty and staff to participate in Student Experience working groups. The first phase for the working group participants consisted of sessions to review the Student Experience program structure, Board of Trustees’ guiding principles and emerging goals, key initiatives to date and a feedback mechanism for participant input.

This first phase will help the leadership team identify the appropriate smaller working groups going forward. As these groups form, the participants will be listed by group. While the guiding principles and emerging goals that serve as the touchstone for this work resulted from student input, the initiative will also incorporate the student perspective by including undergraduate and graduate student representatives.

  • Shahrokh Ahmadi, SEAS
  • Jessica Floyd Alexander, LAW
  • Sarah Baldassaro, ER
  • Brandon Bartels, CCAS
  • Tara Behrend, CCAS
  • Lynsay Belshe, Office of the Provost
  • Chris Bracey, Office of the Provost
  • Rachel Brown, ESE
  • Elisse Brunori, SPH
  • Melissa Busskohl, CCAS
  • Kathy Chretien, SMHS
  • David Costanza, CCAS
  • Tyler Cundiff, LAI
  • Darrell Darnell, Safety and Security
  • Chris Deering, CPS/VSTC
  • Steve Doherty, SPH
  • Adam Donaldson, BMAG
  • Rachel Dorfman-Tandlich, GSEHD
  • Toy Draine, SPH
  • Georgette Edmondson-Wright, ESE
  •  Elizabeth Ewert, LAW
  • Melissa Feuer, CPS
  • Samara Gelb, GSEHD
  • Catherine Golden, SMHS
  • Matthew Golden, SPH
  • Christine Greeves, DIT
  • Alison Hall, SMHS
  • Jennifer Hayes-Klosteridis, SON
  • Geneva Henry, LAI
  • Tamara Henry, SPH
  • Rick Jakeman, GSEHD
  • Jared Johnson, LAI
  • Gabrielle Julien-Molineaux, ESE
  • Robin Juni, LAW
  • (Mary) Liz Kepferle, CCAS
  • Charlsie King, GSEHD
  • Alicia Knight, Operations
  • Sarah Lefferts, DAR
  • Tom Long, CCAS
  • Leo Moersen, GWSB
  • Gilda Mossadegh, CCAS
  • Lauren Hunter Naples, GSEHD
  • Bhagirath Narahari, SEAS
  • Mary Pearce, SON
  • Michael Peller, ER
  • Pam Promisel, BMAG
  • Erika Ogedegbe, ESE
  • Marcia (Cissy) Petty, ESE
  • Jonathan Ragone, SEAS
  • Lisa Stephenson, ESIA
  • Billinda Tebbenhoff, SON
  • Tanya Vogel, Athletics
  • Jonathan Walker, ESIA
  • Maisha Williams, Finance




Initiative Sponsor

Provost Forrest Maltzman

"Our students experience GW every day in so many different ways. They go to class and spend time in their residence halls and student spaces. They seek mentorship from faculty, learn from each other and lean on our staff for help. Each environment they are in, and each interaction they have, should be reflective of an excellent educational experience at a university that truly cares about our students and wants them to succeed. Improving the student experience is a necessarily broad and extraordinarily important goal, and it requires the work of our entire community."

Forrest MaltzmanProvost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs



Initiative Leadership:


  • Laurie Koehler, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment and the Student Experience
  • Caroline Laguerre-Brown, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement
  • Teresa Murphy, Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs


Get in Touch

If you have a story of progress or suggestion related to this initiative, please submit it below. Your feedback is shared directly with the team charged with managing this initiative's progress. We look forward to hearing from you.