New School of Continuing Studies campus opens downtown

August 29, 2013

Wednesday morning, students at the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies (SCS) began their classes in a new building at 640 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., in downtown D.C.

Planning for the move began several years ago because the administration realized that the SCS, which offers a wide range of degree programs for students and professionals, would need an expansion to keep up with enrollment growth.

“SCS has grown fairly rapidly over the past five years in terms of the number of academic programs offered and total number of students,” wrote Walter Rankin, the Interim Dean of the SCS, in an email to the Voice. “With our move downtown we brought more than 1,100 graduate students with us to a part of the city that offers opportunities to enhance their educations.”

The administration incorporated students into the discussion through surveys of current students, alumni, and potential students, which revealed that the two most pressing issues were transportation and availability of University services.

“We were able to secure reduced, more affordable parking rates for our students and faculty at multiple private parking lots and garages in the area,” Rankin wrote.

Rankin believes that the move will also provide students with easier access to opportunities unique to D.C.

“For our students, the move downtown offers them geographic proximity to their fields and industries of study, which expands opportunities for them, such as internships and externships, applied research, and pro bono consulting,” Rankin wrote.

Student response to the move has been mostly positive. “The staff, administrators, and faculty who were there from the SCS were really enthusiastic about seeing the integration of students from different programs,” Lauralyn Lee, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, said.

But some faculty have expressed concern that the move farther away from the main campus could mean students will lose a sense of the Georgetown tradition.

In response, efforts are being made to improve the connection between the SCS and the main campus.

“There has been a group of administrators and faculty from SCS meeting with the main campus administrators and faculty regularly for a better part of the year now about ways in which we consciously integrate SCS’s new campus, the main campus, and the law center,” Lee wrote.

Nevertheless, Rankin does not harbor many concerns about loss of tradition. He believes that students do not need to be on the main campus to have the true Georgetown experience.

“Georgetown is not defined by its buildings on the Hilltop,” Rankin wrote. “It’s defined by its Catholic and Jesuit heritage and values, its people, and its excellence in teaching and learning.”

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