To the George Washington University Community:
My ten years as president of the George Washington University draw to a close in a few days. When they do, you will have the exciting task of welcoming Dr. Thomas LeBlanc to campus as the university’s seventeenth president and beginning the next stage in the remarkable history of this great institution.
It is indeed a remarkable history. We started with a dream and no money to back it. Our campus served as a military hospital and barracks during the most devastating war in our nation’s history; our students and alumni served and died on both sides of that war, which means we were right at the heart of the conflict over slavery and race whose echoes have continued to the present day. We have since moved twice, arriving in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood not until nearly a century after our founding.
Today, in an age our namesake could not have imagined, we remain true to our mission of educating citizen leaders not just for this nation but now for the world. And we have grown in ways our namesake also could not have imagined: in the arts, in the sciences, in law, in policy, in business, and in health care; in the size and scope of a faculty that combines theory and practice like no other; in the diversity and entrepreneurial energy of our students—growth that has made GW the largest, most comprehensive, and I will say most innovative university in the world’s most powerful city.
Looking back on my presidency, I am especially proud of five things, all of which were already in evidence long before my arrival: our culture of service (the reason we called our $1 billion campaign Making History); our strength as a community that engages in civil and respectful debate across an extraordinary range of experiences and perspectives; our unparalleled commitment to all eight wards of this great city of Washington, D.C.; our role as the D.C. university that, more than any other, connects policy with science and technology and has become a model of urban sustainability; and the growing cohesion of our lifelong and worldwide community of alumni, now numbering more than a quarter million around the globe.
Far more than pride, however, is the gratitude that Diane and I share for all the support we have received from so many members of this community ever since the day my election was announced. That includes deans, vice presidents, trustees, as well as countless members of our faculty and student bodies; and also all those who made our GW lives possible by staffing my office, making the F Street House truly a home, ensuring our safety, delivering our mail, shoveling our walks, and helping us in other ways too numerous to count.
We are not going far. But we do say to all: thanks, farewell, and RAISE HIGH!