The School of Continuing Studies will move to its new location in Chinatown in downtown Washington, D.C., this fall, over a year after signing a 15-year lease in July 2012.
According to Lauralyn Lee, associate vice president of community engagement and strategic initiatives, the move from M Street to a 91,000 square-foot campus at 640 Massachusetts Ave. NW was chosen for convenience, as it has parking close by, is located near the Circulator bus route and is accessible by all Metro lines. SCSadministrators declined to comment on the price of the lease.
The search for a new location began about four years ago due to higher enrollment than expected in its master’s programs, SCS Interim Dean Walter Rankin said. Moving graduate students to a downtown campus is also a component of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement.
“Originally, we thought that our public relations and corporate communications [program] would have maybe 25 to 30 students, and that program has been extremely popular with close to 300 students,” Rankin said. “We really needed to find a new location where we will have classrooms and spaces for students to meet.”
However, SCS Senior Associate Dean Jim Parenti expressed concerns that SCS students could miss out on the traditional Georgetown experience with the new downtown location.
“It’s a shiny new building, and it’s sometimes harder to get a feel for Georgetown, where you already have these fantastic older brick-and-mortar buildings,” Parenti said. “When you get into the new space, you want to keep the feeling of … what it means to be a Georgetown student.”
The new SCS facilities will include study rooms, a 130-person auditorium, a digital media lab, a library resource center, a bookstore and several lounge and meeting areas. In addition, the campus incorporates features not available on the main campus, including an Apple computer lab and a broadcast studio that will allow faculty to record live videos. All classrooms are also fitted withEcho360 Lecture Capture, which both SCS and the main campus currently use.
Parenti expressed confidence that the new building will carry on the Georgetown tradition.
“I think that this new location is all about new possibilities for our students, state-of-the-art facilities — really an opportunity to learn and study in a world-class environment in the fastest and most productive area in the city,” Parenti said.
Parenti added that the new location would allow graduate programs to engage more fully with social justice by being in close contact with service organizations in the neighborhood.
SCS Chief of Staff Christina Roberts said that the influx of 1,100 degree and 2,000 non-degree students, 300 faculty and 100 administrators and staff into the neighborhood would change the nature of the area, especially its commerce.
“As far as outreach to the community, we’ve been fortunate to be welcomed by the Business Improvement District,” Roberts said. “They’ve welcomed Georgetown with open arms, looking for ways to cooperate with the community in terms of meeting space, events and industry connections for our students.”
Rankin noted that the LivingSocial headquarters, the Urban Land Institute, National Public Radio and the Newseum, all located nearby, tie specifically into various programs in the SCS.
Lee said that the SCS administration hopes that its new downtown location will mirror the success of the Georgetown University Law Center. Although the law school originally began with one building, it has since developed into a multi-building campus by Capitol Hill.
“It will really benefit the students and also the city as we continue to enhance our footprint there,” Lee said. “We believe the enhanced presence downtown will benefit our students, who will appreciate the accessible urban location and will bring further vibrancy and opportunities for growth to an area of the city that is quickly developing.”
In addition to expanding its downtown presence, SCS will add two master’s programs in urban and regional planning and emergency and disaster management.
According to Rankin, SCS chose these programs because they involve fast-growing, high-profile industries that often require master’s degrees for career advancement.
SCS, which utilizes practice-oriented curriculums for its programs, will continue its commitment to applied education and research opportunities through these two programs. For example, the emergency and disaster management program will partner with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, immersing students in the field before graduation.
Rankin said that students would also benefit from studying abroad at the School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar.
“Both these programs fit terrifically well with the movement of the entire world,” Rankin said. “Since we already have a campus in Qatar, we can look at the potential risks of hosting something like the World Cup, or how to prepare for the tragedy in Boston, how to prepare for multicultural issues and look at how they’re building an entire infrastructure in Qatar.”
Hoya Staff Writer Penny Hung contributed reporting.