GWU aims to get smaller and better. Will that mean cuts to faculty and financial aid?

Nick Anderson:

By many measures, George Washington University looks healthy. The largest school in the nation’s capital boasts growing enrollment, solid finances, expanding research prowess and robust demand for programs such as politics and international affairs.

Yet GWU is taking a surprising and radical step that has prompted deep faculty anxiety: It is choosing to shrink — a lot.

Over the next five years, the private university just west of the White House aims to slash the undergraduate population of its D.C. campuses 20 percent. That would mean 2,100 fewer students, less tuition revenue and tough choices on whether to reduce faculty and financial aid or find other ways to balance the budget.

Many colleges have scrambled in recent times to cope with falling enrollment amiddemographic upheaval. GWU provides the rare case of a school announcing in advance, as a public strategy, that it wants to get smaller.