President LeBlanc shared university updates at a reception with the GW community in Chicago.
George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc reported on the university’s progress toward preeminence at a community reception with donors, parents and alumni in Chicago.
The reception on Oct. 10 was the sixth in a series of events around the country featuring Dr. LeBlanc. GW has a strong presence in the Chicago area with more than 3,500 alumni and more than 400 enrolled GW students who call the area home. Dr. LeBlanc also briefly lived in the Chicago area while working at the Argonne National Laboratory before attending graduate school in Wisconsin.
The evening began with a pre-reception for donors, which included remarks by Dr. LeBlanc and Donna Arbide, vice president for development and alumni relations. Dr. LeBlanc also recognized the new dean of School of Business, Anuj Mehrotra, who was in attendance.
During the community reception, Dr. LeBlanc reflected on his first year at GW and accomplishments related to the university’s strategic initiatives. These initiatives will guide the university as it approaches its bicentennial in 2021.
Recent progress on the student experience initiative include modifications to the university’s dining plan that offer more flexibility and affordable choices for students and fostering a sense of community by providing first-year students with GW sweatshirts during Move-In Weekend, which Dr. LeBlanc described as “a little expression to say welcome to GW, we’re glad you’re here.”
The university is also examining ways for students to double major across disciplines and pursue additional degree options, including a new B.S. in international affairs, which facilitates exploration of the university’s comprehensive curriculum and academic opportunities.
Helping GW students navigate the university in an efficient and welcoming way is a goal of Dr. LeBlanc, who noted the urban nature of GW’s Foggy Bottom campus has in many ways informed how interactions are structured at the university.
“We could do a better job serving our students,” he said. “Our students see our university as way too transactional. They don’t see themselves as part of a family or at home.”
During the program, Vicktery Zimmerman, B.A. ’11, asked Dr. LeBlanc about how the university is advancing diversity and inclusion on campus. As a Latin American student, she said, she struggled to find her footing when she first arrived on campus but found her “home” through the Multicultural Student Services Center. Ms. Zimmerman said she continues to advocate for first-generation students and underrepresented groups on campus.
Vicktery Zimmerman, B.A. ’11, talks with development and alumni relations leadership Donna Arbide and Matt Manfra at a university community reception in Chicago on Oct. 10. (Photo by Stephen Serio)
“Being a GW alumna is a big part of my identity so I wanted to hear the president’s vision for the place I really care about and to make sure the university is going in a good direction,” she said. “So far I like what I hear.”
Megan Davison, B.A. ‘12, one of several members of the GW Chicago Alumni Network in attendance, said she was pleased to hear about the changes to the university’s dining plan.
“I was one of those students who didn’t know when my meal plan would run out,” she said. “At the time, it was a really big deal. It was really great to hear President LeBlanc talk about those issues and to take them seriously.”
GW parent Daniel Schwartz attended the community reception to learn more about the university that makes his son, first-year student Nate Schwartz, “incredibly happy.”
“Connecting with his school is a way for him to know that we care about what he’s doing,” said Mr. Schwartz.
In his remarks, Dr. LeBlanc mentioned that Nate’s “only-at-GW” moment happened his first week on campus when Nate met U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a member of LaunchPad DC, GW Hillel’s early move-in program.
“We’re creating moments and offering an education that is offered nowhere else,” said Dr. LeBlanc. “We need to make sure every student who goes to GW knows that and takes advantage of it, and that every alum takes pride in their only-at-GW moments.”
The university will host several additional receptions with Dr. LeBlanc during the 2018-19 academic year. The next reception is in Atlanta on Nov. 14.