"You are demonstrating every day that it matters less where we are and more how we are coming together," President Thomas LeBlanc writes in message to GW community.
To the George Washington University Community:
The beginning of the academic year is always an exciting time, full of new opportunities. Each fall, I am inspired and motivated by our community’s passion for improving the world through our teaching, learning, and research. Although this semester will be different in many ways, this energy remains the same.
Higher education, and what we do at GW especially, is one of the greatest forces for social good. This force has only intensified during the past several months—in the face of a pandemic and its disproportionate impact on people of color, the climate crisis, economic and racial injustices, and deeply disturbing acts of racist violence.
In these challenging times, your commitment to addressing complex problems has not wavered. Our medical providers have been on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients, and our faculty’s research and expertise is contributing to vaccine development and better virus prevention and treatment while highlighting health disparities. Our students are creating solutions to address the pandemic in their communities. And our staff are working here on campus and at home to keep our community safe and university running smoothly. Over the summer, I also was heartened by the response from so many in our community who came together through #GWinSolidarity events to find meaningful ways to educate and advocate for a more just world.
You are demonstrating every day that it matters less where we are and more how we are coming together—supporting one another, remaining connected, and fulfilling our mission. We are all GW, whether here in Washington, D.C., or in Nashville or New Delhi.
Of course, this distance and the virtual environment this fall is a different experience for many of us, and I know for new members of our community this is a strange time to begin your GW experience. While the semester will have its share of challenges, it also presents opportunities. Many courses have transformed through the use of technology and online teaching techniques that will deliver the high-quality academic experience our students deserve. We also are planning a robust slate of programming ready to engage online, beginning with Weeks of Welcome and Welcome Days of Service, and support is available through the CARE Team, Colonial Health Center, and Academic Commons regardless of where you are. We have countless dedicated faculty and staff to thank for this reimagined GW experience.
A small residential community of students is here in Foggy Bottom, along with a limited number of other students, faculty, and staff who have been approved to be on our campuses for necessary in-person coursework, patient care, or research. We have our own FDA-approved COVID-19 testing underway, managed by our expert faculty, and strong protocols in place for social distancing, masking, and quarantining. But even for those of us who are physically here, we will be mostly virtual, too, joining the rest of our community around the world online in courses and events throughout the semester. I already have enjoyed being able to meet some of our new GW families and faculty during orientation events, and I had the opportunity to address our new students during Virtual Convocation.
Finally, I want to note that I recognize the pandemic will continue to affect our community in various ways this semester, and our students, faculty, and staff will be juggling additional responsibilities while contending with added stress and the uncertainty of the future. I thank you for lending a hand to one another, and for being patient and understanding when your colleagues or students need some extra time or space. As we also take steps to manage the pandemic’s effects on GW’s resources and operations, we will continue to listen carefully to your feedback and concerns, and we will communicate with you regularly on changes that affect you. In all of our actions, we will prioritize the health, safety, and care of our community while protecting our core academic mission.
The pandemic has changed a lot. But it has not changed the exceptional quality and strength of our GW community. I remain optimistic about our future because of this community and your commitment to using our teaching and research to drive positive change in the world.
I wish you a fulfilling semester of new opportunities. Stay safe, stay healthy, and Raise High!
Thomas J. LeBlanc