GWUFA Official Statements 2020

March 10, 2020: GWUFA Statement: Keep Pushing for the Petition

Dear GWUFA members,

We hope you will stand for diversity and inclusion and stand with your colleagues from across the university by signing the GWUFA-sponsored petition calling on President LeBlanc to resign.

No doubt you all received the recent message from Board of Trustees chair Grace Speights and President LeBlanc.  We read it as a sign of how effective the broad opposition to the LeBlanc administration has been, including the two faculty assemblies that many of you attended (here and here), the excellent work being done in the faculty senate, and the growing grassroots movement, from opinion pieces in the Hatchet to wonderfully creative posters appearing across campus, to petitions being circulated by student-led FIght Back! GW Coalition and GWUFA.  Today GWUFA joined the Fight Back! GW Coalition.  We hope you will sign that petition too

It should be no surprise that Grace Speights and Thomas LeBlanc are offering something that does not meet even the basic demands of the Faculty Assembly for information about the 20/30 plan or the Disney “culture initiative.” The reminder that the Future Enrollment Task Force is on the case simply ignores the institutions of shared governance already established at GW. Meanwhile, they are charging ahead with their original plan rather than giving full consideration to faculty and student concerns.

Most of all, Grace Speights and Thomas LeBlanc do not address the ongoing concerns about racism, diversity and inclusion that are the central point of the GWUFA petition.  We encourage you to read the outstanding opinion piece by GW sophomore Nkozia Bethune in the most recent Hatchet to remind yourselves of the urgency of this issue and who we stand with, and what we stand for, with this petition.

The message from Grace Speights and Thomas LeBlanc shows us that our petition is working.  Let’s make it even stronger. We now have 120 faculty signatures on our petition. If you have not yet signed, please do.  If you have signed, please encourage your colleagues to sign the petition also. Click here to sign!

In solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the GWU Faculty Association

GWUFA Petition for LeBlanc’s Resignation

Update: March 3, 2020

Less than a week ago, the GWU Faculty Association began circulating a petition calling on President LeBlanc to resign.  It was, and remains, open to all faculty members, whether GWUFA members or not, whether full- or part-time. The response has been overwhelming, and we now have 110 signatures, listed below. We hope additional faculty will join their colleagues, who represent every rank of faculty, and a wide range of fields, from geography to microbiology, and from computer science to history.  It’s not too late to sign!

Click here to sign!

We have also heard from many students and staff who would like to sign. Although we don’t have the capability to send this petition beyond the GWUFA listserv, we would love to open it up to students and staff so that the petition becomes a University-wide call.  

With our 110 faculty signatures listed to provide courage and momentum, GWUFA asks every student and staff member who would like to sign to please do so and to spread the petition through your GW networks, far and wide. 

We will protect the anonymity of students and staff members as we do that of faculty without tenure. We don’t know what the reach of the petition will be among students and staff, so we won’t include the number of either if their numbers are not sufficiently large

We stand as a diverse and democratic community against President LeBlanc and his administration.

In solidarity with students, faculty, and staff,

The GWU Faculty Association

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. ignoring a formal request for information about this plan by the Faculty Assembly;
  4. 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.

Click here to sign!

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.

  1. Lowell Abrams, Associate Professor, University Writing Program and Mathematics
  2. Attiya Ahmad, Associate Professor, Anthropology
  3. Tyler Anbinder, Professor, History
  4. Elisabeth Anker, Associate Professor, American Studies
  5. Robert P. Baker, Associate Professor , Music
  6. Lisa Benton-Short, Chair and  Professor, Geography
  7. Charlene Bangs Bickford, Retired Project Director and P.I., 1st Fed. Congress Proj., History
  8. Douglas Boyce, Associate Professor, Corcoran, Music
  9. Brenda Bradley, Associate Professor, Anthropology
  10. Beda Brichacek, Research Assistant Professor, Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine
  11. Christopher Britt Arredondo, Professor, RGSLL
  12. Michael Bukrinsky, Professor, Microbiology Immunology and Tropical Medicine
  13. William Earl Burns, Professional Lecturer, History
  14. Dana Burgess, Professor, Corcoran School Theatre & Dance
  15. Jennifer Chang, Associate Professor, English
  16. Erin D. Chapman, Associate Professor, History
  17. Eric H. Cline, Professor, CNELC and Anthropology
  18. Kavita Daiya, Director, WGSS Program, English
  19. Daniel DeWispelare, Associate Professor , English Department
  20. Arie Dubnov, Associate Professor & Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies, History
  21. Michèle Friend, Associate Professor, Philosophy
  22. Roy Richard Grinker, Professor, Anthropology
  23. Thomas A. Guglielmo, Associate Professor, American Studies
  24. John M. Hawdon, Associate Professor, Microbiology Immunology and Tropical Medicine
  25. Jonathan Hsy, Associate Professor, English
  26. Hiromi Ishizawa, Associate Professor, Sociology
  27. Jennifer James, Associate Professor, English
  28. Jenna Weissman Joselit, Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies, History/Program in Judaic Studies
  29. Hugo Junghenn, Professor, Mathematics
  30. Loren Kajikawa, Associate Professor, Corcoran, Music
  31. Jodi I. Kanter, Professor, Corcoran, Theatre and Dance
  32. Ivy Ken, Associate Professor, Sociology and TSPPPA
  33. Dane Kennedy, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History, History
  34. Dean Kessmann, Associate Professor, Corcoran, Studio Art
  35. Imtiaz Khan, Professor, Microbiology Immunology and Tropical Medicine
  36. Kathryn Kleppinger, Associate Professor, RGSLL
  37. Antonio López, Associate Professor, English
  38. James Mahshie, Professor, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
  39. R.J. Maratea, Visiting Assistant Professor, Sociology
  40. Marcos L. Martinez, Professorial Lecturer, University Writing Program
  41. Robert McRuer, Professor, English
  42. Barbara Miller, Professor , Anthropology
  43. David T. Mitchell, Professor, English
  44. Daniel Moshenberg, Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  45. Amber Musser, Associate Professor, American Studies
  46. Mika Natif, Associate Professor, Corcoran School, Art History Program
  47. Dara Orenstein, Associate Professor, American Studies
  48. Laura Papish, Associate Professor, Philosophy
  49. Richard M. Robin, Professor, RGSLL
  50. Shira Robinson, Associate Professor, History
  51. Johan Severtson, Professor, Corcoran Graphic Design
  52. James Sham, Associate Professor, Corcoran School
  53. Gregory D. Squires, Professor, Sociology
  54. Mary Beth Stein, Associate Professor, RGSLL
  55. Paul M. Swiercz, Professor Emeritus, Management
  56. Poorvi L. Vora, Professor, Computer Science
  57. Sergio Waisman, Professor, RGSLL
  58. Clay Warren, Professor, Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication
  59. Gail Weiss, Professor, Philosophy
  60. Lynn Westwater, Associate Professor , RGSLL
  61. Bernard Wood, University Professor, Anthropology/CASHP
  62. Maria Cecilia Zea, Professor , Psychological and Brain Sciences
  63. Andrew Zimmerman, Professor, History
  64. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  65. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  66. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  67. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  68. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  69. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  70. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  71. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  72. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  73. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  74. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  75. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  76. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  77. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  78. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  79. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  80. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  81. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  82. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  83. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  84. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  85. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  86. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  87. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  88. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  89. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  90. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  91. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  92. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  93. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  94. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  95. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  96. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  97. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  98. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  99. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  100. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  101. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  102. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  103. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  104. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  105. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  106. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  107. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  108. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  109. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)
  110. Anonymous (verified untenured GW faculty member)

Click here to add your signature!

Divest GW From Fossil Fuels

February 5, 2020: Our recent letter to members.

Dear GWUFA members,  

We are writing to announce GWFUA’s endorsement of a new, student-led campaign targeting GW’s complicity in the climate crisis. Students in GW Sunrise are demanding that GW (1) “Close or cut ties with the Regulatory Studies Center or publicly disclose its funding, motivations, and anti-regulation agenda; and (2) Immediately divest the university endowment from the fossil fuel industry.” GWUFA is proud to join the steadily growing coalition powering this important campaign.  

GW Sunrise is asking faculty to show their support by signing on to the letter that outlines and explains their demands. You can read and sign the letter here. If you want to learn more about the Regulatory Studies Center, an academic center housed by GW but heavily funded by petrochemical billionaire Charles Koch and ExxonMobil, you can read the thorough report conducted by Public Citizen here. Despite describing itself as an “objective, unbiased” program, Public Citizen found that the Center’s submissions to government agencies overwhelmingly opposed more stringent regulations–this was the case 96% of the time.  

As members of the faculty, your signature is especially meaningful in light of recent comments made by President LeBlanc that characterized GW’s current relationship to the Regulatory Studies Center as a question of “academic free speech.” GWUFA would like to remind the university administration that academic freedom and freedom of speech are two distinct concepts (and that academic free speech is not a concept at all). Academic freedom is not the freedom to reach whatever scholarly conclusions one chooses, but is a far more limited endeavor, beholden to the standards established by the community of experts that comprise one’s field of study. Individuals are free to say whatever they want about the climate, but that speech is different from claims arrived at through research conducted in accordance with rigorous standards, and motivated by the pursuit of knowledge as a good in itself. Not only are climate scientists in agreement that we have a limited window in which to keep the warming of the planet from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, but they reached this conclusion independently of outside influence, and by conducting research that met the standards set by their community of experts.

It is the role of the University to safeguard academic freedom, and one important way of doing this is by ensuring that research is insulated from outside pressures, such as market or political incentives.  We hope that you consider adding your signature to the over 1,500 signatories the letter has already garnered.  

In solidarity,

GWUFA Statement on President LeBlanc’s Comments, Feb. 5, 2020

Like much of the GW community, we in the GWU Faculty Association were appalled when we heard President LeBlanc casually invoking a hypothetical plan to murder African American students as an example of a majority decision that he would disregard. This is precisely the sort of thing we worried about four years ago when we opposed the lack of diversity on the presidential search committee. The Board of Trustees ignored our concerns and went forward with the skewed committee that they had already appointed. We see President LeBlanc’s remark as one of the results of that earlier disregard for diversity and inclusion.  The Hatchet’s coverage from that time can be found here, here, and here.

The George Washington University needs a president who welcomes all students and who goes the extra mile to make sure that students of color know they are valued and safe on the GW campus. A president who makes glib comments — whether on or off the record — about racist murders is not that president.

We hope that the Board of Trustees will rethink their habitual disdain for faculty input. President Leblanc’s callous remarks are just one of a number of deeply offensive acts that might have been avoided had the university administration respected the voices of students, staff, and faculty committed to making the GW community a place where we can all flourish.