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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Areas of Focus

Several people have asked what my problem is with George Wythe University. While I try to include all viewpoints in this blog (see link listing to the left), I do have a few problems with this school based on my interactions and those of my relatives (see my profile at the bottom of the blog).

These problems boil down to three general categories:

1. The way the school presents itself
2. Philosophy / Methodology
3. Quality of execution on the methodology

The way the school presents itself
The problems with the school's history have been documented in previous posts. Obviously, the school has a troubled past, although it seems to be turning over a new leaf of late.

While I have no problem with fresh starts, the school needs to come to terms with its own history before it can fully move forward. If that means disowning the 1990s and all its attendant baggage (degrees based on life experience, conspiracy publications, etc.), then so be it.

During that time the school gave our boatloads of degrees for majors ranging from Musicology to Psychology to International Business, to the point where these degrees are simply not credible.

Unfortunately, such a purge would include throwing out the degree of current president Andrew Groft, who got his Ph.D. in Education during this time (this is another of the degrees no longer offered).

A friend of mine commented that when she was considering the school back in 2002, she was impressed by the photos in the registration materials of students lounging in large quads, reading books near majestic columns on an expansive campus. But when she visited the campus, it was in the basement of a dentist's office in a strip mall. She felt like her expectations had been violated, and although this didn't make or break the deal for her, it did leave her with a bad taste in her mouth.

From another angle, here is a shot taken from the school's homepage on March 11, 2000, ostensibly an image of the school's campus:



And here is a shot of the strip mall the school actually occupied at the time, and through 2005 (they were in the basement of one of the units):



What's wrong with presenting things "as they really are"? Unfortunately, the school continues to present itself as more than it is. Another example: It bills itself as "the leading college in the United States dedicated specifically to building Statesmen." It's not difficult to lead in a field of one! They could just as justifiably call themselves "the worst college in the United States dedicated specifically to building Statesmen."

The school has since moved into the following quarters on Sage Drive in Cedar City, Utah:



More transparency in the way the school presents itself would go a LONG way in establishing its credibility.

I will address items 2 and 3 in follow-up posts.

Comments welcome!

4 comments:

R.C. said...

I totally agree with you, and I think that there is a huge presentation problem. One problem that I have is their degree in "statesmanship". Schools do not build statesmen. Four years of education is not enough to build a statesman (as Oliver DeMille would probably agree).

They should rename their degree "Bachelor of Liberal Arts" because that is what it is. Employers would know what they are getting.

James F. said...

Good post. The whole stately University image compared to what they really had/have is a good point in their marketing exaggeration. That bothers me about McDonalds too--you never get what they show in the darned picture! But we all keep eating there anyway, probably in hopes that one of these days they'll hand you what they show in the picture.

No really though--I think the image is a good point. While like any University they are trying to give themselves the best image possible, I think you make it clear that GWU has exaggerated it to the point of being deceptive. If along with promotional photos they were to include some sort of "campus virtual tour" that actually shows that they were in the basement of an office building I wouldn't think it was a problem. But they didn't and that is definitely a mark against them.

However I think it is also worth noting that the dynamics of this argument is changing as they emphasis their online program. Many students won't even see their physical campus and this won't be as important to them or GWU.

Oh, I also wanted to ask TRGW--so the Gala with Glenn Beck is coming up here in a couple days. Do you know anyone that is going that can report back? I'd love to know what goes on and how Glenn Beck treats the whole experience.

R.C. said...

"this argument is changing as they emphasis their online program. Many students won't even see their physical campus and this won't be as important to them or GWU."

So basically, GWU can put whatever they want on their promo materials?

Why don't they just make a virtual campus with old buildings that people can enter. They should model the whole thing after "Second Life" with Harvard-like buildings.

Tom said...

The picture is a drawing of Monticello, which was built by George Wythe's premiere student, Thomas Jefferson. I have a degree from GWC (I attended in 1992-95). It was a very different type of education, but just as valuable to me as a "normal" college education would have been. I was the voice you heard on the phone when you called the school during those years.

In 1993 the school moved from Duck Creek, where it should have never been in the first place, to the office building shown in the first picture. First we had on unit upstairs and 2 downstairs, but shortly after moving in we swapped the upstairs unit for the last downstairs unit. It was an OFFICE BUILDING not a strip mall and we have the full basement.

I never lied about what kind of facility we had and every student we had at the time had been to the school before they enrolled. I also never hid my identity.

My name is Tom Mathias and I am proud to have been a George Wythe student. I also thoroughly enjoyed their simulations. I have not been there in a long time and I thought they had discontinued those, which made me sad. I am happy to read on your site that the simulations continue.