President LeBlanc Announces Extended Strategic Planning Timeline at Faculty Senate Meeting

Dr. LeBlanc reaffirmed his commitment to university-wide collaboration in developing the strategic plan and welcomed Provost Blake to GW.

November 11, 2019

Faculty Senate

President Thomas LeBlanc (left) and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs M. Brian Blake addressed members of the Faculty Senate at a Friday meeting. (William Atkins/ GW Today)

George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc announced at a Faculty Senate meeting on Friday that the administration will extend the strategic planning timeline slightly to provide the four committees with more time to receive and incorporate feedback from the GW community.

The extension responds to faculty concerns that the strategic planning process—which launched in September—seemed rushed. Dr. LeBlanc said he hears and understands the faculty’s concerns about the process.

“I want to assure you...I have heard the faculty’s concerns and remain committed to conducting a strategic planning process that’s inclusive and allows opportunity to hear from the university community,” he said.

The change was made after discussions with the chair of the Board of Trustees, the chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force, chairs of the strategic planning committees and other faculty leaders, Dr. LeBlanc said.

Each of the four strategic planning committees—world-class faculty, high-quality undergraduate education, distinguished and distinctive graduate education and high-impact research—are holding public discussions and gathering input to make draft recommendations. Under the new timeline, they will prepare a short draft report in February including principles, metrics and a proposed set of recommendations. Those drafts will be shared with the Faculty Senate and the campus community to review and offer feedback.

The strategic planning committees will present their final recommendations to the Board of Trustees in May. The board will then consider how to harmonize those recommendations with budget planning and campus and facilities planning before voting on a final strategic plan at their meeting at the end of June. This adjustment still allows the university to finalize a plan and begin implementation by the start of the fall 2020 semester as originally planned, Dr. LeBlanc said.

During an annual Faculty Assembly last month, faculty approved a petition requesting more information about the strategic planning process and asking for more Faculty Senate involvement throughout the planning process. The petition also specifically asked the administration to provide underlying data that supports the objectives to increase the number of undergraduate STEM majors, from 19 percent to 30 percent, and decrease the undergraduate student body by 20 percent over the next five years.

The Faculty Senate voted to adopt a resolution on the petition, with some amendments, during the meeting. Dr. LeBlanc said he supports the faculty and their desire to be actively involved in the strategic planning process.

“I think it’s adding important detail and reassurance to the faculty that we want to do this together,” he said. “We’re not always going to get everything exactly right, but we’re trying our best to try and do that.”

M. Brian Blake introduction
Dr. LeBlanc welcomed Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs M. Brian Blake to the Faculty Senate meeting—his first since coming to the university earlier this month. Dr. Blake thanked Dr. LeBlanc and recognized his predecessor Forrest Maltzman for his leadership.

“Everything I’ve seen over the past five days just indicates to me just how amazing the decisions that he has made [have been],” Dr. Blake said, adding he has “big shoes to fill.”

Dr. Blake said he has enjoyed strong relationships at his previous institutions with the faculty, who he relied on for diverse insights about the university community’s needs.

“I’m looking forward to meeting all of you and getting to know you very well,” he said.

Dr. LeBlanc encouraged everyone to attend a welcome event for Dr. Blake on Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Marvin Center Great Hall and Columbian Square.

Faculty Salary report
Also Friday, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Christopher Bracey provided a progress report on the work of the Faculty Salary Equity Committee, which developed a methodology to review GW faculty salary data within each school or college and identify outliers.

Mr. Bracey said the committee identified salary outliers and sought to determine if compensation was impacted by important factors such as market factors at the time of hire, retention adjustments to salary, productivity and other special circumstances. Only a small number of outliers were identified.

In future studies, the university should seek to better understand the reasons why individuals fall into the outlier category and collect sex disaggragated data, Mr. Bracey said.

Other updates

  • The university celebrated the opening of Potomac Square, a community space for students, faculty and staff on G Street, last month. The space has outdoor seating and a daily selection of food trucks.
  • Sylvia Marotta-Walters, chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, emphasized the importance of shared governance at the university.
  • Dr. LeBlanc applauded the success of the annual Diversity Summit, held last week. The event theme was “Be Bold: Learning. Unlearning. Relearning.”
  • Dr. LeBlanc recognized and welcomed Dana Bradley, the university’s first chief people officer, who started in September.