RAISE HIGH THE BUFF AND BLUE
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES ENHANCED COMMITMENT TO ITS ATHLETICS AND RECREATION PROGRAMS
Strategic Plan to Guide the Future of GW Athletics and Recreation is Unveiled
February 10, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The George Washington University released today a five-year strategic plan for the Department of Athletics and Recreation, which announces a strengthened and expanded commitment to the university's athletics, health and wellness initiatives. Specifically outlining the use of increased resources in the areas of team operating budgets, scholarships, facilities and staffing, the plan directly addresses areas of concern that were identified by the university's year-long strategic review.
"We're making a major commitment to GW students, alumni and supporters today, as it is our feeling that this world-class university deserves a world-class athletics and recreation program," said Randy Levine, GW trustee, alumnus and president of the New York Yankees, who chaired a special committee of trustees dedicated to the planning process. "After a full review of the Department of Athletics and Recreation from top to bottom, the Board of Trustees and the university are firmly behind the initiatives and goals set forth in this plan, and we're committed to providing the necessary resources to deliver."
A result of a strategic planning process that began in February of 2011, RAISE HIGH THE BUFF & BLUE: The George Washington University Department of Athletics and Recreation Strategic Plan for 2012-2016 follows a comprehensive review of the department that included hundreds of its constituents and stakeholders.
The plan calls for the continuation of appropriate renovations to the university's intercollegiate sports facilities. The renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center has been completed and the facility will have a positive impact on the university for many years to come. The university has also begun a renovation project on Barcroft Park for Colonials baseball, while the soccer and lacrosse field at the university's Mount Vernon Campus was replaced in the summer of 2011. A plan to replace all of the fields every 10 years has been built into the department's budget.
An additional aspect of the plan calls for the overall operating budget of George Washington's intercollegiate athletics program to be enhanced to place the university on par with the top-funded programs in the Atlantic 10. Currently GW's teams' operating budgets rank 13th out of 14 A-10 institutions. The additional funds will primarily be directed at coaching, recruiting, travel, marketing, technology and fitness.
"Our aim is to ensure that our athletics and recreation programs match the overall excellence of the university, and that our student-athletes have the resources they need to succeed, both on the field and in the classroom," said GW President Steven Knapp.
With the goal of continuing to recruit student-athletes with stronger academic and athletic profiles, the university will provide the athletics program with the necessary recruiting dollars and additional scholarships. These recruiting budgets and scholarship dollars will be comparable to the rest of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"A strong athletics and recreation program is key to building the identity of this university in a manner that not only our worldwide alumni base can be proud of, but in which our admissions can use to continue to recruit the well-rounded and high-caliber students that make the George Washington University what it is," said GW Board of Trustees Chair W. Russell Ramsey.
A mission of the George Washington University is to help prepare the next generation of leaders. Accordingly, as a result of this strategic planning process, Athletics and Recreation has formed a partnership with Janssen Peak Performance to establish the George Washington Student-Athlete Leadership Academy. Janssen operates similar academies at North Carolina, Georgetown, Michigan and Yale, among other Division I schools.
While the university is fully committed to financing the endeavors articulated in the strategic plan, fiscal responsibility will also fall with the recently established Athletic Development office. In partnership with the Division of Development and Alumni Relations, the new office is expected to generate over $2 million annually by the fifth year of its operation, thereby addressing a need to properly fund a program that is currently under-funded in comparison to its competitors.
The plan also reaffirms the university's commitment to maintaining its current intercollegiate sport offerings, and calls for the transition of sailing from a club sport activity into a coed, varsity intercollegiate program - the university's 23rd varsity sport.
"This is an exciting day for the Athletics and Recreation Department and the thousands of members of the GW community, including our students, student-athletes, club sports and intramurals participants, fans, alumni, and the patrons of our wellness facilities," said Patrick Nero, director of athletics and recreation. "To have the Board of Trustees and the university fully behind our mission allows us to strengthen our program and create more opportunities for GW students and our campus community."
With a daily average that nears 2,000 patrons who use the university's Lerner Health and Wellness Center (LHWC), in addition to 1,000 club sports athletes and 3,000 intramural participants that make the facility their home, there is a heavy demand on the building and its annual operating, maintenance and utility costs. This strategic plan will increase funding for the center to meet these demands, and calls for Athletics and Recreation to work on a long-term plan to address its efficiencies in operating. Also as a result of the planning process, club sports will now be given a priority in on-campus facility scheduling.
The special committee of trustees, supported by senior administrators, was appointed to oversee the review and planning process and ultimately make final decisions in regard to GW's strategic direction for its Department of Athletics and Recreation. A steering committee, composed of a wide range of GW community members, including, faculty, staff and alumni, oversaw the development of the strategic plan, while seven subcommittees looked into every aspect of the Athletics and Recreation department, with accumulated input from more than 400 individuals.
"This has been a lengthy but extremely worthwhile endeavor, as our Athletics and Recreation program is the centerpiece of campus spirit and student engagement," said Robert Chernak, senior vice provost and senior vice president for student and academic support services, who chaired the steering committee. "We're proud of the process, and excited for the path carved out by this strategic plan."
The special committee of trustees, a group that also included Allan From (secretary of the board of trustees), Gary Granoff, Jim Humphreys, Mark Shenkman, Cynthia Steele Vance, Kerry Washington and Omar Woodard, in addition to Mr. Levine and Mr. Ramsey, met several times during the summer and fall of 2011.
This report summarizes the work, recommendations and plan for the future of GW Athletics and Recreation.