February 26, 2020
We, the undersigned George Washington University faculty, call on Thomas LeBlanc to resign from his position as president of our university. Our demand gains its urgency from the racist remarks made by President LeBlanc and his insufficient apology (here and here).
We understand LeBlanc’s comment to be just the latest evidence of his disregard for both diversity and democracy at GW. Just a few of his most egregious earlier acts include:
- proposing a strategic plan that will have a negative effect on the racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of GW’s student body. Despite repeated faculty protests LeBlanc has shown no recognition of this concern;
- setting the university on a course that drastically reduces income without a plan to make up the shortfall, thus creating a condition of financial insecurity and jeopardizing academic programs, faculty, students, and staff
- ignoring a formal request for information about this plan by the Faculty Assembly;
- paying consultants from the Disney Corporation unknown amounts of University funds to assess and then overhaul GW’s “culture” through a top-down training initiative, the latest of which includes bringing senior administrators to an expensive Disney resort in Florida to attend a Disney-led training program that concludes with each participant creating “a written commitment and action plan to present to President Tom LeBlanc” and the Disney-designed culture he is seeking to impose on GW. GW is a university, not a corporate cult!
A president like this–who engages in activities like these, including making blatantly racist remarks–is made possible by a lack of shared governance between the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, and staff. Indeed, Thomas LeBlanc was selected by a committee that completely excluded faculty of color despite the repeated objections of GW community members.
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Numerous individuals and groups on campus have repudiated President LeBlanc’s racist remarks. These include the GWU Faculty Association, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the Progressive Student Union, and the YDSA GW. Now it is time to act. We believe it is essential to show students, staff, and faculty of color that the entire GW community stands with them in their right to safety and respect from the highest levels on this campus.
We want to see GW become a university that reflects the diversity of the city, the country, and the world in which it is located. We want to see it enhance the existing strengths of its students, staff, and faculty rather than pursuing wild pipe dreams seemingly better designed to pad an administrative c.v. than to serve the university. The undemocratic and exclusionary selection of Thomas LeBlanc as president has moved us in the opposite direction: a chaotic and top-down institution marked by haphazard administrative decrees, racism, and a demoralized community. We the undersigned declare: enough is enough. It is time to show Thomas LeBlanc the door and to put GW on a course worthy of its considerable potential.
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