“Hundreds of students and employees are urging the president to resign. More than a thousand students, staff, faculty and alumni have pledged to stop donating until LeBlanc is replaced, said Gaurav Gawankar, chief of staff to the student government president.”
“It’s hard to find one word,” Zimmerman says when asked to describe LeBlanc’s tenure. “But shocking? Dumbfounding? This goes beyond the normal disagreements that faculty are naturally going to have with the president. It’s a total disconnect about basic values of the university.”
“We’re concerned that not only is the university contravening shared governance but, perhaps, moving to transform the university in some unclear, unstated way,” Chapman said. “We’re frustrated.”
April 4, 20: Wash Post on the GWUFA Petition calling for LeBlanc’s resignation.
The Post covered in detail the many deep concerns that GW faculty have about President LeBlanc: his top-down leadership, lack of concern for diversity, and poorly designed strategic plan. As our petition made clear, and the article also shows, the fact of the COVID crisis does not change this, nor does it undo the crisis that LeBlanc has been creating since his arrival at GW.
March 9, 2020: Hatchet Editorial calling for LeBlanc’s resignation
The GW Hatchet Editorial Board supported the GWUFA-sponsored faculty petition calling on LeBlanc to resign. As the editorial put it, LeBlanc’s racially insensitive comments are part of a large pattern of dismissive, clueless behavior that marginalizes diversity, ignores faculty governance, and misallocates spending. “LeBlanc is and has been moving the University in the wrong direction, and his insensitive comment was the last straw.” The full editorial is a damning indictment.
March 8: Interview with GWUFA President Andrew Zimmerman
Getting to the Bottom of It interviewed GWUFA President about the deliberations and considerations that led to GWUFA steering a petition, signed by over 100 faculty members, that calls for LeBlanc to resign.
Feb. 26, 2020: Faculty Assembly a Resounding Success
As the GW Hatchet reported, and as you can see here, the faculty turned out *again* to try to call for respect, shared governance, and a reasonable level of transparency in the decision-making that affects us as faculty, our students, and all who are about GWU. The vote was 189-0, a resounding statement of support for the hard work of the Faculty Senate and a range of other activists, including many GWUFA members. The various committee reports were thoughtful, measured, and yet, in their total impact, quite damning: devastation by Power Point.
We eagerly await next steps from the Senate, which has done heroic work on responding to the plan. Meanwhile, GWUFA, which is entirely independent of the Senate, has decided to move forward with our call for President LeBlanc to resign. You can see our statement here, and sign the petition here.
Feb 8, 2020: The Disneyfication of a University
Historian Dane Kennedy — who writes about British empire and decolonization, and is a keen observer of power plays of all sorts — wrote in the Academe blog on his experience with GW’s “culture initiative.”
Feb 6, 2020: Divest GW from Fossil Fuels
GW students are taking to the streets to demand divestment from fossil fuels. They delivered a letter to President LeBlanc, and then marched to his house to protest GW’s investments in the destruction of the climate. GW invests 3% of its endowment in fossil fuels.
GWUFA issued a statement in support, and also explained the serious problems with President LeBlanc’s insistence that the Regulatory Studies Center — which regularly argues for protecting climate-destroying corporations — is protected by academic freedom and therefore GWU can’t respond to concerns about the group’s independence and credibility. GWUFA thinks otherwise.
GW’s Sunrise campaign is asking GW to divest–you can sign the petition here–and to come clean about the ties to the Regulatory Studies Center.
February 5, 2020: GWUFA Speaks out on LeBlanc’s Racial Comments
GW President Thomas LeBlanc made a stunning comment to a student activist this week that explained his opposition to cutting ties to the fossil-fuel friendly Regulatory Studies Center by comparing student demands to divest from fossil fuels and cut ties to the Center to a hypothetical plan to kill all the African American students at GW. GWUFA issued a strong statement of protest, making clear the organization’s support for students and faculty of color at GW. Our statement, which also highlighted the lack of diversity of the committee that hired President LeBlanc, was covered by the GW Hatchet. The story of LeBlanc’s statement and his subsequent apology was covered by the Washington Post, Fox 5 news, WAMU radio, and WTOP.
Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2019.
A University Wanted to Improve Its Culture. So It Called Disney.
The Chronicle is rightfully suspicious that perhaps Disney is not the place to get consulting for improving a university’s culture. As GWUFA member Katherine Kleppinger makes clear, we are not opposed to working for a better environment at the university! Instead, we want to see change in the working conditions that make people (staff, faculty, students) frustrated. At a university, working conditions are learning conditions.
GW Hatchet on GWUFA Working Groups: October 31, 2019.
Take a look at this important @gwhatchet article on the new GWUFA Working Groups, designed for broad and open discussion among faculty about the impact of Pres. LeBlanc’s cuts & changes.
Inside Higher Ed on the Faculty Assembly vote to demand more accountability. October 28, 2019.
The article gives a sense of the energy and commitment at the impressively well-attended faculty assembly, which asked for more information and more transparency from the GW administration.
GW Hatchet on the “Culture Initiative”: October 28, 2019
GW faculty express concerns that the trainings are not interactive, not designed for mutual conversation about how to improve GW’s institutional culture.
GW Hatchet: October16, 2019: Faculty sign petition about LeBlanc’s proposals.
Getting to the Bottom of it podcast, September 30, 2019. Two GWUFA members, Guillermo Orti and Greg Squires, discuss the planned changes.
GW Hatchet: September 30, 2019: Push to Increase STEM majors could prompt cuts in non-STEM departments.
Washington Post: September 13, 2019: GWU aims to get smaller and better. Will that mean cuts to faculty and financial aid?
GW Hatchet Editorial by GWUFA President, November 15, 2018: Ivy Ken discusses the Disney survey and why it is so demoralizing to faculty who care about GW.
GW Hatchet: April 14, 2014. Professors start rival group to counter administrators’ agenda.
We were happy to see the coverage at the founding of our organization, but also countered the inaccuracies in the story:
- We are not a faculty lobbying organization. Rather, we are an independent faculty voice upholding the core values of the University and speaking out on issues of central importance that affect the quality of academic life for students and faculty.
- We do not have, nor do we seek an adversarial relationship with the Faculty Senate, the University Administration, the Board of Trustees or any other body. Our relationship with these, and other institutional bodies, is determined by how closely their actions and attitudes correspond with our stated principles.
- We do not seek to usurp the role of the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is an institutional body of the University. We are not. Instead, we are part of the University community’s civil society. We believe a strong and robust civil society, which can both empower and hold to account the University’s institutional structure, is fundamental to the University’s health.