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Northern Virginia Community College wants to close the achievement gap, and its new vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer has a plan.

Eun-Woo Chang started work in July by visiting all six campuses and meeting with staff. His job is to take charge of NOVA’s academic initiatives, and says that the college’s ADVANCE program, which allows for a smooth transition to a four-year degree at George Mason University, will be expanded with advisors to help Hispanic students.

“This is going to be a model,” Chang told ALXnow in a recent interview. “If we are successful, we are going to implement this to the other ethnic groups, as time goes.”

Grant funding will help, Chang said, as NOVA has secured millions in grants for the project from the U.S. Department of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. NOVA has also received $40 million from the Virginia legislature to expand its health and trades programs.

With 72,000 students spread across its campuses, NOVA was forced to up its online offerings during the pandemic. In-person classes resumed in August 2020, and a lesson learned from the experience, Chang said, was to increase availability for Zoom classes.

“Forty percent of our classes are in person, 40% of percent of our classes are in a Zoom environment, and virtual classes make up 20% right now,” he said. “We anticipate that virtual online format is going to grow even more.”

All of this is part of NOVA’s adherence to the Virginia Community College System’s Opportunity 2027 Strategic Plan. NOVA’s graduation rate last year was 29%, a 2.6% increase over year before. Approximately 64% of students in NOVA are minorities.

Chang, who was previously in academic leadership at Ashland University in Ohio and Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, moved to the area in 2008 when he was hired as a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

He also says that having First Lady Dr. Jill Biden teaching at NOVA helps the school’s profile.

“It’s an honor for us to have her as a faculty member here,” he said.

Chang says longevity is the key to his success.

“As long as they don’t kick me out, I’ll stay here,” he said. “The longest serving provost has been here more than 15 years. And then the shortest serving provost is five or six years. So, there is a longevity, and that’s why we are successful.”

Photo via NVCC

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Morning Notes

Booster shot preparations for adults made in Alexandria — “After a White House announcement that a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine could be available to adults as soon as Sept. 20, the City of Alexandria is preparing to administer the additional doses.” [Patch]

Efforts underway to educate public as city adjusts to marijuana legalization — “In order to spread awareness about the details of the bill and quell community concerns, the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria worked with the governor’s office to release a “Top 10″ list for youth and adults that concretely explains the new measure’s rules and regulations.” [Alextimes]

Behind the scenes at ‘The Loft’ with Lena’s seasonal transformations — “When the theme at the Loft at Lena’s changes for the season, it’s a top to bottom change. New menus are developed, staff don new uniforms and even the lighting is completely redone. The loft closes down on Sunday and is closed for four days before reopening in time for Friday dinner. During that time it’s a 24/7 process that involves the whole team at Lena’s.” [Alexandria Living]

Median home prices to rise steadily in Northern Virginia — “The median price of sold homes will continue its upward trend across Northern Virginia, but the rise in prices will slow down in the coming months, according to a new report from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University (GMU-CRA) and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Rain showers in the morning with scattered thunderstorms arriving in the afternoon. High 79F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%. Locally heavy rainfall possible… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then variable clouds overnight with more showers at times. Low around 70F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Auto sales representative — “NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED!! WE WILL TRAIN YOU!! OURISMAN CHRYSLER / JEEP / DODGE / RAM NEEDS SALESPEOPLE!!…..one of Virginia’s most respected automotive groups is offering an opportunity to join their automotive sales team” [Indeed]

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Alexandria and Bailey’s Crossroads-based Goodwin House Incorporated has partnered with George Mason University (GMU) to help improve memory retrieval and other cognitive abilities for seniors.

According to a press release, GMU is initiating a study of Goodwin House’s StrongerMemory program, which specializes in delaying or slowing the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or dementia.

The press release noted some strong findings in the initial portion of testing.

  • Participants were motivated to participate in the program due to fear of memory loss because of experiences of family members and friends. Others indicated that they had observed themselves becoming forgetful, whether due to normal aging or another reason.
  • Participants perceived “being cognitively fit” as just as important as being “physically fit” to prevent cognitive impairment and reported a self-perception of being “less foggy” and able to remember things differently than they could before starting the program.
  • Participants were eager to continue the program and have begun integrating what they have learned from the StrongerMemory program into their daily lives.

“Participants in the initial study were highly motivated to integrate StrongerMemory into their daily lives and showed willingness to complete the activities to stay cognitively fit,” said Catherine Tompkins, associate dean for faculty affairs at George Mason University. “Our initial interviews show satisfaction, enthusiasm and commitment to the StrongerMemory program.”

Photo courtesy Goodwin House

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The highly ranked master’s security studies programs at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University have received a $250,000 gift from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation.

The funds will be used for scholarships for eligible master’s students entering the Schar School in Spring 2021 who are pursuing degrees in a security studies-related program.

“The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation gift is making it possible for many students to attend our high-ranked security studies programs and prepare for careers in intelligence and security policy,” said Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell. “We are grateful for this new partnership that will advance our shared goal of educating and training future policy professionals in these fields.”

The scholarship gift is intended to develop and prepare future national security professionals and leaders who will study in one of the Schar School’s four master’s programs: Master’s in International Security, Master’s in Biodefense, Master’s in Public Policy with an emphasis in National Security and Public Policy, and the global No. 22-ranked Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

“We are delighted to support students to attend a top-tier policy and government school which prepares them to be the outstanding professionals who will serve in the national security arena,” said foundation Chief Executive Officer Abby Spencer Moffat in announcing the award.

The scholarships range from $3,000 to $30,000 and will be distributed over the first three semesters of the degree program. Learn more about the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation Scholarship and how to apply.

Curious about where a security-focused degree can take you? Register for our upcoming virtual job talk on October 29 for a rare chance to hear from industry experts on ways to research and build out a policy and security career roadmap from the scope of available opportunities. Panelists will also share their knowledge on skills critical to preparing for professional success.

Former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, who is now a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schar School’s national security program, will also greet prospective students and share his security experience during a Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House on November 12. Register to attend.

To stay updated on opportunities or information about the Schar School’s graduate programs, please visit our admissions event page or fill out our request form.

The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University is offering a new three-part series of “virtual visits” to campus for prospective undergraduate students to see first-hand the opportunities and world-changing subject matter that a Schar School student encounters.

“The virtual visits will showcase some of the high-profile professors, students, and graduates who make the Schar School one of the highest ranked policy and government schools in the country,” said Shannon Williams, who works in student services and is coordinating the virtual visits. “The variety of the topics of the three events range from examining the future of American democracy to justice and prison privatization to getting ready for your career in changing the world. Prospective students will be able to ask questions at the end and they can register for one session or all three, at no cost.”

The virtual visit series will be held October 13-15, at 6 p.m. EDT. Topics throughout the week include:

Register to attend any or all of the virtual visits.

With a BA in Government and International Politics and the BS in Public Administration, students are poised to make an impact globally and locally.

To learn more about other upcoming events, please visit our event calendar or connect with the Schar School Office of Undergraduate Student Services at [email protected].

Join the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University for an upcoming virtual open house for prospective students! Learn more about our top-ranked degrees as our sessions will explore master’s, certificate and PhD programs.

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Tuesday, September 15
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

PhD Virtual Open House
Wednesday, September 23
7-8:30 p.m. (EDT)

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Thursday, October 22
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Thursday, November 12
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 2 best school in the U.S. for security studies programs relating to intelligence, counterterrorism, and emergency management. With dedicated career services advisors, 16,000+ passionate alumni around the globe, and a faculty of leaders and experts in their fields, you will benefit from a world-class education.

Graduate Certificate Programs (5 Courses Each)

Part-time and full-time options available

Master’s Degree Programs

Part-time and full-time options available

PHD Degree Programs

Part-time and full-time options available

To learn more about graduate programs at the Schar School, fill out the inquiry form to indicate your interest to the Admissions team or register for a virtual open house.

The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University is offering prospective graduate students the opportunity to sample a free virtual lecture regarding one of the more pressing concerns of the day: the coronavirus pandemic and, more specifically, the future threats that might be inspired by it.

The sample lecture, titled Will COVID-19 Inspire Greater Interest in Bioweapons?, will be held July 22 at 12 p.m. EDT. It will be taught by professor Gregory Koblentz, director of the biodefense master’s, PhD, and graduate certificate programs at the Schar School.

“The sample lecture will discuss the history of bioterrorism and why different terrorist groups have tried to develop and use biological weapons,” said Koblentz. “Understanding the motivations for bioterrorism can help us predict the conditions under which bioterrorist groups emerge.”

The online lecture will be based on a bioterrorism risk assessment framework that Koblentz developed as part of an earlier research project on chemical, bioterrorism, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism. In 2016, Koblentz briefed the UN Security Council on the impact of emerging technologies on the threat posed by the proliferation of CBRN weapons to non-state actors.

“This class sampler,” said Koblentz, “will provide a preview of one of the lectures I’ll be giving in BIOD 609: Biodefense Strategy in the fall. This will be the first chance for prospective students to hear my analysis of this threat.”

The session will reveal new insights about the pandemic and how diseases could be used for bioterrorism or biological warfare in the future. “There is a long-standing debate in the field about the threat posed by bioterrorism,” said Koblentz, “and there are a whole bunch of new questions being raised about how the COVID-19 pandemic might increase that threat. There are some disturbing indications that both far-right and jihadist terrorist groups are seeking to exploit the pandemic to advance their respective political agendas.”

Register to attend the sample lecture.

To stay updated on sample lecture opportunities or information about the Schar School’s graduate programs, please visit our admissions event page or fill out our request form.

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