The George Washington University is actively planning for an in-person return to campus this fall, President Thomas LeBlanc told the Board of Trustees on Friday during its May meeting.
“As we look forward to the summer and fall, I remain very optimistic about the months ahead,” Dr. LeBlanc said, noting expanded vaccine distribution and the university’s vaccine requirement. “We continue to be encouraged about the future and protecting the health and safety of our community.”
The university will have a comprehensive, on-campus experience for students this fall, including in classrooms, residence halls and other campus buildings. Courses will be in person with flexibility for remote options as possible, and approximately 6,500 students will be in the residence halls on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, Dr. LeBlanc said.
The university’s main fall academic calendar will begin Aug. 30, with orientation for new students beginning earlier. The university is urging all GW community members to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the past few months have offered many opportunities to bring the community together, Dr. LeBlanc said. Engagement with faculty, staff, students and alumni has included bicentennial events, meetings with the faculty at each of the schools and colleges, events like the #GWInSolidarity series and meetings with D.C. officials on reopening plans.
Dr. LeBlanc also expressed his gratitude for the GW community.
“The support our students, faculty, staff—all the members of our community—have provided to one another, and their ability to continue to advance our academic mission during these times, has been truly inspiring,” he said. “I am very grateful for that.”
In her opening remarks, Board Chair Grace Speights, J.D. ’82, also shared her appreciation for the GW community.
“I want to recognize our students, including our graduates, who have persevered through a very challenging year. We are encouraged by your commitment and dedication,” Ms. Speights said. “I also want to express appreciation for our faculty and staff, who continue to engage and inspire our students. I thank you for keeping the university’s engines running, whether you are on campus or working remotely. We value all that you do.”
Also Friday, the board approved the fiscal 2022 operating and capital budgets.
The board approved Adam Conner, Pamela Lawrence and Sam Shekar as new trustees and reelected Trustee Mark Chichester, with terms from June 1 to May 31, 2025.
Mr. Conner, B.A. ’06, is vice president of technology policy at the Center for American Progress and CAP Action. Ms. Lawrence, B.A. ’76, is a health care management leader who serves on several boards, including for the GW Medical Faculty Associates. Dr. Shekar is a medical and public health executive and retired assistant surgeon general and rear admiral.
The board recognized members of the leadership for their service to GW, adopting resolutions of appreciation for Director of Board Operations William Carnago, who will retire after 21 years of service, and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Beth Nolan, who is retiring after 14 years in her role. Ms. Nolan also was named general counsel emerita.
The board also recognized with a resolution of appreciation School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries, who will become dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and welcomed Bruno Fernandes, the university’s new vice president of finance and treasurer. Mr. Fernandes is a finance executive with two decades of experience and most recently was treasurer and deputy chief financial officer for D.C.
Student, alumni and faculty leadership remarks
- Faculty Senate Executive Committee Chair Arthur Wilson reported that the faculty have been busy, including many discussions on the pandemic and university operations. Moving forward, the senate is focused on collaborating on reopening plans and strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion, he said.
- Student Association President Brandon Hill said the SA wants to continue to collaborate with all university stakeholders to support students and has recently advised on updates to the student code and financial aid enhancements. Mr. Hill said he “looks forward to elevating the voices of all students.”
- In his report, GW Alumni Association President Richard Jones said the GWAA has made progress on its goals of increasing alumni engagement and giving. Both measures are “strong,” he said, noting recent engagement in bicentennial events and the nearly $1 million raised on Giving Day.
All board committees provided reports, and the board also approved revisions to the Code of Academic Integrity and Code of Student Conduct as well as various faculty for tenure or emeritus status.