Welcome to GW, Spring 2024

January 17, 2024

Two students talking in front of GW's gates on a snowy day.

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

Welcome back! Sonya and I hope you and your loved ones had a joyful and relaxing winter holiday. Despite yesterday’s snowstorm, the campus has come alive with the arrival of the spring semester. It’s wonderful to hear students' voices again and to see faculty and staff return from a well-deserved break. 

We are returning to campus after a fall semester that was both productive and challenging. Events at home and abroad continue to impact many of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. These events also raised questions about safety and security on campus and the centrality of free speech at our university. As an academic institution and a shared community, we always strive to be better and to do better. These experiences have created an opportunity for us to both reflect on how we can progress together and to act on those reflections. 

In the coming days, we will unveil a comprehensive plan that builds on these lessons learned and lays the foundation for growth at our university. The plan features new initiatives, programs, and activities that support those impacted by the Israel-Hamas war, that protect and clarify academic freedom and free speech, and that enhance our ability to engage across differences. I look forward to sharing more details with you soon.

The issues of free speech and civil discourse raised last semester are also important as we embark on our nation’s next presidential election. No university in the country is more engaged with politics and civil political dialogue than GW. Throughout the year, faculty and subject matter experts will help the country better understand the election and electorate dynamics. Politically engaged students and staff will volunteer for campaigns and debate with one another on University Yard. Domestic and international issues will be at the forefront of our attention. This is an opportunity for us to model robust and productive civil discourse around all the issues we care about. It’s an important time for our nation and our university, and I look forward to experiencing it with all of you. 

For over two centuries, the George Washington University has been a home for the world’s leaders, thinkers, artists, and changemakers who seek to engage in complex conversations, challenge big ideas, and tackle tough problems. As we navigate this difficult yet essential work, we do so as a community of Revolutionaries committed to changing the world. I invite you to join me as we continue to raise higher together.     

My very best wishes to you all for a wonderful spring semester. 


Ellen M. Granberg