President LeBlanc to Alumni: Give Students ‘An Opportunity’

George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc spoke about his goals for the university during a town hall livestreamed on Facebook.

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SMPA Director Frank Sesno and George Washington President Thomas LeBlanc discussed university goals at a livestreamed community meeting Tuesday.
November 15, 2017

By Kristen Mitchell

George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc said since starting his tenure as university president he has been impressed by the breadth of “Only at GW” opportunities available to students.

“Every single student I’ve met framed their educational experience in terms of what D.C. did for them at GW. Whether they’re studying engineering or politics or international affairs,” he said. “When you think about international affairs, and you can see the State Department from your classroom, that’s a very different experience than when you talk about international affairs as a hypothetical and in some far off place called Washington, D.C.”

Dr. LeBlanc talked about his first few months on the job, his goals for the university and the most significant issues facing higher education at Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday for “President LeBlanc Live,” a digital town hall meeting for students and GW alumni streamed live on Facebook. Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, hosted the event, which was part of this week’s presidential inauguration celebration.

Several high profile members of President Donald Trump’s administration have visited GW this semester, along with thousands of intelligence agency professionals and foreign leaders. Dr. LeBlanc said he has been impressed with the civility from students and faculty during these visits.

“It didn’t create any big controversy among our student body,” he said. “Our students are used to having people from different points of view come to our campus.”

Dr. LeBlanc also spoke about the importance of preserving free speech on GW’s campus. The university should value diverse perspectives while also remaining empathetic to student concerns, he said.

Dr. LeBlanc was asked via Facebook how the more than 270,000 GW alumni around the world could assist the university after graduation. He encouraged alumni to send their own children to GW, to tell the bright teenagers they know to apply and to mentor college students. He also said alumni should consider philanthropy, especially those who benefited from scholarship programs as students.

Alumni could also seek out GW students when they are looking for qualified young people to fill open positions in their company or organization, Dr. LeBlanc said.

“We’re not asking for a favor, we’re asking for an opportunity,” he said. “Give our students an opportunity to interview. You’re not going to find a better group of young people, so hire our students.”

Dr. LeBlanc said his computer science background makes him question everything and seek solutions to any problems that arise. He hopes GW students, staff and faculty become comfortable questioning everything and seek innovative answers to tomorrow’s challenges.

“The one answer that is unacceptable to me in the university is ‘we’ve always done it that way.’  I never want to hear that,” he said. “So 10 years from now if our entire culture is questioning everything, developing new solutions, new perspectives, new art forms and is having a positive impact on society, globally...that’s enough for one president.”

Watch the full video of the event.

Watch video highlights of the inauguration activities

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