A New England Welcome

President Thomas LeBlanc shared his university priorities with GW community members in the greater Boston area, including members of the class of 2022.

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President LeBlanc chats with John and Julie Kozelian, whose daughter, Olive, will be attending GW in fall 2018. (Photos:David Tucker)
April 16, 2018

By Julia Parmley

Generations of Colonials—from the class of 1953 to the incoming class of 2022—came together April 10 in Boston to make new connections and hear from the George Washington University President Thomas J. LeBlanc.

More than 200 guests, including alumni, donors, parents and GW Board of Trustees members Ellen Zane, B.A. ’73, and Judy Rogers, MVC ’74, gathered in Copley Square to learn about Dr. LeBlanc’s vision for GW. Part of a series of community receptions around the country, the event was hosted by the university with support from the GW Boston Alumni Network.

In her remarks, Ms. Zane recalled the charge of the GW presidential search committee to recruit a president “who understood what it was going to take to continue to advance GW to the next level.”

“We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to interview many capable individuals, and it was absolutely unanimous without a blink that President LeBlanc was the guy,” she said.

Local enrolled and prospective students also attended the event to meet other Colonials and learn more about the university from Dr. LeBlanc and GW admissions staff.

For early-decision admitted student Olive Kozelian, GW was her only choice for college. Interested in marine biology and health sciences, she attended the Boston event to meet other new Colonials before she begins her studies this fall. “When I visited GW with my mom, right when I walked into campus and got the vibe of the school, I fell in love with it,” said Ms. Kozelian.

Her parents, Julie and John Kozelian, said GW was perfect for their daughter because of its location and the opportunities it provides that match her interests, such as study abroad and the university’s partnership with GW Hospital. “Based on who she is, GW just felt right,” said her mother. “We are excited for her to experience college in a city she has always loved.”

The Kozelians were particularly interested to meet Dr. LeBlanc because they both grew up in Plattsburgh, N.Y. “As soon as Olive got into GW, my dad and sister sent me the announcement of his appointment in the local paper,” Julie Kozelian said. “He is a hometown boy!”

The allure of studying in the nation’s capital is also part of what drew Eric Saidnawey to choose GW. Interested in mechanical engineering, Eric was unsure about GW until he visited campus for a second time with his father, Paul Saidnawey.

“I chose GW because of its amazing location, the new [science and engineering] building, the new president and the community,” Eric Saidnawey said.

The Saidnaweys—including parents, Paul and Louise--attended the Boston event to talk to alumni about their experiences at GW. Paul Saidnaweys has his own history with GW – he took courses at GW while interning at the Democratic National Committee as an undergraduate at Tufts University.


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Two members of the GW class of 2022, Isabel Hardy (r) who will be in SMPA, and Catherine Waters, who will be in CCAS, talk about their decisions to attend GW.


During the program, Dr. LeBlanc shared his vision for GW as the university approaches its bicentennial in 2021. Five initial priorities came to the fore as Dr. LeBlanc met with members of the GW community and identified areas of collective aspiration.

In the Q & A portion of the evening, GW parent and donor Ronald Homa asked Dr. LeBlanc about his vision for GW athletics. Mr. Homa’s son, Matthew Homa, who will graduate next month from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, is a member of the GW sailing team, an experience Mr. Homa said was key to his son’s development as a student and adult.

“President LeBlanc’s core view of athletics and how it serves the school is laudable and is consistent with what I’d expect from a college program,” said Ronald Homa. “I look forward to him continuing excellence for student-athletes, particularly the sailing team.”

Peter Choo, M.D. ’85, was also impressed with Dr. LeBlanc’s priorities for the university. “President LeBlanc seems to really grasp GW’s history and understand where it is today and where it has to go in the future,” he said.

Dr. Choo remembers his time at GW fondly and stays engaged with GW through his philanthropic support and networking events.

“What I cherish and what always warms my heart when I think about my med school days is the camaraderie,” he said. “We were up late studying, we helped each other at the anatomy lab, and we shared notes with each other. That camaraderie persists decades later.”

In his closing remarks, Dean Coclin, B.S. ’84, member of the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors and GW Boston Alumni Network, asked alumni to share their “only-at-GW” moments with the prospective students in attendance and encouraged alumni to remain connected to the university.

The next GW community reception with Dr. LeBlanc will be in New York City on May 9.

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President Thomas LeBlanc will travel around the United States to meet with members of the GW community and share his vision for GW.