At Faculty Assembly, Dr. LeBlanc proposed a “thought exercise” to encourage strategic thinking on the university’s future.
George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc on Wednesday asked faculty to think about questions that will help the university lay the groundwork for a formal strategic planning process.
“Suppose someone gives the university $1 billion of unrestricted cash, and says, ‘Do whatever you want with it,’ ” he said during Faculty Assembly. “What should we do with it?”
Although no one has actually given GW the money, Dr. LeBlanc acknowledged, the university has resources to make significant investments in its future.
But even $1 billion can go quickly at a university, he said, when investing in financial aid, academic priorities and hiring faculty.
“We’re going to have to make some very hard choices,” he said. “So we should be thinking about that.”
Dr. LeBlanc also asked faculty to consider: What should determine the size of the university’s faculty, and what about the size of the undergraduate student body? The answers have direct impact on the university’s resources and how it allocates them.
All of the questions are up for discussion as the university closes in on its bicentennial, which will be celebrated in 2021, and begins talking about a new strategic plan.
“This is not about writing a document that sits on a shelf,” Dr. LeBlanc said. “This is about having detailed discussions about how we’re going to achieve our shared aspirations.”
Kicking off the assembly, Dr. LeBlanc asked the dozens of new faculty members in the room to introduce themselves before giving an overview of his first year at GW, the university’s five strategic initiatives and other improvements that are in progress or near-term goals, such as building a new residence hall and renovating Thurston Hall, the institutional culture assessment and a review of the university’s research ecosystem.
He also noted the importance of leveraging GW’s location in the nation’s capital as well as a new initiative in data analytics, which will launch in the coming months and be a resource for faculty in all disciplines at a time when the need for data analysis continues to grow, no matter the field.
In his remarks, Provost Forrest Maltzman said GW’s mission is to change lives through the students the university graduates and the research it conducts.
“In many respects, our reputation drives our capacity to meet our mission, and our success at meeting our mission drives our reputation,” Dr. Maltzman said.
He added that the university measures its progress by many metrics, including its scholarship and research efforts, faculty and student recruitment and success, alumni support and reviews from outside bodies such as accreditors, among other factors.
Closing the meeting, Sylvia Marotta-Walters, chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, provided an overview of the senate’s priorities for the upcoming year, including discussions on research and institutional culture improvements and reviews of the Faculty Code and Title IX policies. She asked faculty to get involved.
“I would urge you to participate,” she said.