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

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.

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.


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.


GW to Consolidate Student Support and Resource Center into an ‘Academic Commons’
GW will streamline access to existing academic support services through a coordinated structure in GW Libraries and Academic Innovation, better enabling the university to provide academic services that enrich and enhance the learning experience of undergraduate students.

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.


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

  • 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 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.

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 App
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




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.