President LeBlanc Addresses Faculty Senate

Dr. LeBlanc outlined five areas of focus during the first meeting of the 2017-18 Faculty Senate.

GW President Thomas LeBlanc
President Thomas LeBlanc chairs his first meeting of the 2017-18 Faculty Senate Friday. Dr. LeBlanc said he hopes to have faculty support of his priorities. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
September 11, 2017

George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc on Friday shared with the Faculty Senate several of his initial impressions of the university, including how he sees GW’s aspirational statement taking shape.

“We aspire to preeminence as a comprehensive global research university,” he said.

Dr. LeBlanc also shared the statement last week with students, faculty and staff who attended community meetings to meet him, provide their thoughts on GW’s future and ask him questions.

“I think it’s really important to understand that we need to have collective aspirations,” Dr. LeBlanc said to faculty. “I’ve been here five weeks. Some of you have been here years, if not decades.”

But his job as president, he added, is to take in as much information as possible from as many GW community members as possible and then articulate an aspiration that helps guide the university in everything it does.

In talking with the Faculty Senate on Friday, Dr. LeBlanc also reiterated the five initial areas of focus he has identified as priorities after discussions with the GW community: the undergraduate student experience; the partnership among the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, GW Medical Faculty Associates and GW Hospital; research impact; Development and Alumni Relations; and the university’s institutional culture. He said faculty will be an important part of GW’s goals.

“Leaders have to lead, but everyone has to buy in,” Dr. LeBlanc said. “And I hope we’ll have the support of the faculty.”

Dr. LeBlanc also briefed faculty on his background and the many roles he has held in his lifelong career in higher education.

“I have a lot of respect for shared governance and faculty governance, so I appreciate the opportunity to be here with the Faculty Senate,” he said.

Board of Trustees Chair Nelson A. Carbonell, B.S. ’85, said the board looks forward to supporting Dr. LeBlanc’s priorities and provided an update on recent changes the board has made and some of its goals for the upcoming year.

This year, the board will conduct most of its business at its regular meetings in open session with the exception of matters in which the board must maintain confidentiality. The president of the Student Association and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee chair also will sit with trustees at the board table to be more involved in the dialogue, Mr. Carbonell said, adding that the board wants to “listen to the people who live and experience GW every day.”

In the same vein, the board has created two task forces—one on the student experience and another on volunteer engagement—to further expand input from members of the GW community in board matters.

Mr. Carbonell said he also wants trustees to have the opportunity to interact more with faculty members. He said that an annual dinner bringing the groups together will be bigger this year and held in February.

“I’ve always found it a rewarding experience to interact with faculty,” Mr. Carbonell said.

Also Friday, the Faculty Senate heard an update on the university’s accreditation process for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a voluntary membership association of colleges and universities located mostly in the mid-Atlantic region.

The university is currently finishing its self-study, a document that addresses how GW meets various accreditation requirements. The self-study will soon be made available to the GW community for comments. Once finalized, it is submitted to a team of academics and administrators who will visit GW in spring 2018 and provide a report to the accrediting commission.

“I think we’re in good shape,” said Professor of Religion Paul Duff, co-chair of the steering committee creating GW’s self-study.

In other Faculty Senate news:

  • Provost Forrest Maltzman thanked faculty for helping new students get acclimated to campus and said he is excited about the opening of the new STEMworks lab in Gelman Library. He also reiterated the university continues to monitor developments surrounding the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and reminded faculty of the impact the news is having on some GW students as well as the resources available to them.
  • In closing the meeting, Dr. LeBlanc asked the Faculty Senate for feedback on the aspirational statement, saying he would be sharing it more and more as the year progresses. “Are we on the right track?” he asked. Faculty members nodded in agreement.

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September 11, 2017
Institutional culture, undergraduate experience, research and fundraising are among President LeBlanc’s areas of focus.