The George Washington University was founded in 1821 in response to a vision that the nation's foremost founder spelled out in his last will and testament. He dreamed of a university that would educate the citizen leaders of the new nation he had done so much to create.
Today the university that bears his name is different in many ways from what George Washington could have imagined. He could not have imagined the sheer size of its enrollment, now 26,000 students, including women as well as men from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Nor could he have envisioned a university with multiple campuses and 14 schools; with more than 120 departments and 95 centers and institutes; with a half-million-square foot science and engineering building; with a school of public health, located on a circle that bears his name; or with a museum housing a world-class collection of textiles and the history of the great capital city he had only begun to plan.
But what George Washington could have imagined and it's hoped would recognize is the university’s culture of service and ongoing commitment to the education of citizen leaders. In those respects, the GW has remained faithful to its founding vision for nearly 200 years.
As GW prepares for the beginning of the university’s third century in 2021, five short years from now, GW must look at the path it has already traveled and what will enable the university to navigate the complex and rapidly changing landscape of higher education.
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