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There is no financial crisis at GW (pass it on)

Since our last meeting and communication about the Faculty Association’s pledge, we’ve received requests for talking points about GW’s financial situation. We share these points below.

For those of you who have signed, we hope these points help you keep your commitment to stop layoffs. For those of you who haven’t, we hope they illustrate why it is so important to push back against the administration’s false narrative about a financial crisis. 

In fact, the administration is abandoning its narrative of financial crisis, and it is now touting layoffs for their own sake. LeBlanc clearly stated at the last Faculty Senate meeting (6/18) that he does not consider layoffs a last resort, and the administration is now predicting a shortfall much closer to the best case scenario –$100 million. In short, the administration is coming around to our position–the financial situation can be easily weathered without layoffs–while at the same time showing their true colors–the crisis was always a cover to make long-term structural changes. 

The Faculty Association’s pledge asks faculty to organize together because we believe that this is the only pathway to achieving meaningful power within the University. Steering Committee member Sara Matthiesen outlined GWUFA’s approach in a recent Chronicle of Higher Ed article. As she writes, it is not enough for faculty to present reasoned arguments to the administration–our analysis must be accompanied by collective action if we want to build faculty power. We share it here in hopes that it will further assist you in upholding the pledge.

We also encourage you to up the ante on the organizing you’ve been doing thus far. What specific ideas do you have for making sure there are no layoffs? How are you upholding your pledge? How many colleagues have you had conversations with? How many have you convinced that this is their fight, too? Please email us and let us know!

When we organize for collective power, we win. 

In Solidarity,
GWUFA

Talking Points: 
Finances at GW and the Destructive Wastefulness of Layoffs
(Unless otherwise linked, all of these points draw on data we presented in our message of June 3.)

While there are short term financial challenges facing the university, there is NOT a financial crisis that warrants layoffs or furloughs at GW. President LeBlanc and the Board of Trustees have misrepresented their own financial projections to justify cuts to faculty and staff that are, in fact, unnecessary. 

The administration has shown that their description of GW’s financial health cannot be trusted for the following reasons. They are selling off our future at GW for #funnymoney: 

$85 million? $100 million? Where’s the $15 million?

The University’s calculations for its losses in the best case scenario total $85 million, but the LeBlanc Administration has consistently referenced a $100 million shortfall, rounding up $15 million as if it is all just #funnymoney.

What about the cost savings already incurred?

The University’s calculations exclude cost savings that specific units have already been required to make, such as a 10% reduction by CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck, or the $20 million already saved by the immediate freeze on merit increases for AY 2020-21. The LeBlanc administration is not engaged in rational financial planning. It is using #funnymoney to justify cuts to faculty and staff.

Waste and cronies

LeBlanc has consistently demonstrated poor, and even bad-faith, stewardship of GW, wasting GW funds on well-paid positions and lavish consultancies for his Miami colleagues and favored corporations. Now he claims that it is financially necessary to lay off the faculty and staff who carry out GW’s core mission, even while GW continues to dole out millions to these upper administration cronies. Just today GW announced the hiring of yet another upper administrator who will neither teach courses nor conduct research, but will no doubt earn several times the salaries of those of us who do.

Is this the 20/30 plan in disguise?

LeBlanc refused to provide any rational financial or other justification for his 20/30 plan, despite formal requests from the Senate and an unanimous faculty vote to pause implementation at the March 2 special faculty assembly. The plan would have cost GW millions in lost revenue and it aroused concerted faculty opposition in the senate and across the university. Faculty did not fall for the tired anecdotes and warn truisms LeBlanc offered as ‘explanations’ of his decision.  Now he wants to use #funnymoney to justify the unjustifiable.  

Better ideas:
  • There are innumerable ways for GW to meet foreseeable revenue reductions without the draconian layoffs, furloughs and other programmatic cuts with which the LeBlanc administration is threatening the present and future wellbeing of GW:
  1. GW already has more than sufficient financial resources to cover even its own worst-case projections for pandemic-related shortfalls.  These include $500 million in cash reserves, an additional $300 million line of credit at present-day low interest rates, a $1.8 billion endowment, and massive commercial real estate holdings apart from its academic facilities.
  2. The Faculty Senate has, moreover, proposed its own series of cuts and revenue-generating opportunities that do not attack the core mission of GW, and avoid dipping into any of these resources.
  3. The Board of Trustees is obliged to protect in good faith the long-term health of the university.  Investing in its faculty is the best strategy for achieving that objective. Threats of cuts, job insecurity, and other demoralizing and destabilizing tactics have just the opposite effect. So far, the Board of Trustees has worked hand-in-hand withthe LeBlanc administration’s wasteful expenditures on Florida cronies and others and now, as it threatens the university with destructive and unnecessary layoffs of faculty and staff.  We will not be fooled by their bad-faith, #funnymoney accounting. 

GWUFA Supports SA Executive Order

The GWU Faculty Association is pleased to circulate the Student Association Executive Order calling on President LeBlanc to resign and demanding genuine shared governance at GW. 

As the Executive Order states, LeBlanc has exhausted the patience and good will of every faction of the GW community – faculty, staff, and students. So bad is the situation at GW that LeBlanc’s missteps are reported as the lead article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education.

We can no longer tolerate the LeBlanc administration’s unwarranted compensation cuts, layoffs, or unreliable, ever-changing financial projections. 

Just yesterday, GWUFA learned about a new round of layoffs in Communications, affecting about 60 staff members. These colleagues are now required to reapply for a pool of about 30 positions. The LeBlanc administration continues to fire GW staff despite the updated enrollment numbers that make it ever more clear that such measures are unnecessary. 

Stand with GW students, staff and faculty. Demand an end to LeBlanc’s disastrous vision for our university, heartless policies, authoritarianism, and funny money. Call on the Board of Trustees to fire LeBlanc and implement true shared governance at GW. 

It is time to reclaim our university. GW deserves better.


Executive Order

No Confidence in University President Thomas LeBlanc

* * * * *

To urge President LeBlanc’s removal and implement shared governance at every level.

EO-F20-01 [Content Warning: mention of sexual assault]

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and Bylaws of The George Washington University Student Association, it is hereby ordered: 

  1. President LeBlanc must resign or be removed from his position immediately.
  2. President LeBlanc’s replacement must be chosen democratically by a selection committee that includes student, faculty, and staff representatives. This precludes a “task force” or “committee” that ostensibly has input but no decision-making power. All stakeholders must be involved in the replacement process from the very beginning.
  3. The Board of Trustees should have shared governance with students, faculty, and staff. This must include at least one seat on the Board of Trustees for each population that has full voting and governing privileges. These seats must be included in Executive Sessions.
  4. The case for President LeBlanc’s removal and an overhaul of the University’s governance is clear:
    1. President LeBlanc has failed in the goals he was hired for – increasing fundraising to improve the financial position of the University. While the size of the endowment remains large enough to weather the pandemic, the rate of alumni giving back to the University has remained at a peer institution-low of less than 10%. The only other university among our peer institutions that had their endowment shrink in fiscal year 2019 was the University of Miami, where President LeBlanc was formerly the Provost. 
    2. President LeBlanc chose to hire Heather Swain during a “hiring freeze” and during a wave of layoffs, then offered no adequate explanation for why this decision was made when any reasonable person would have discovered her revolting background of covering up sexual assault for Larry Nassar.
    3. President LeBlanc has insisted on executing the “Strategic Plan” to cut enrollment and student financial aid. This will inevitably result in a student population that is higher-income and more white.
    4. In February 2020, President LeBlanc made a racist remark in a recorded conversation with two students, equating a majority agreement for divestment to killing all Black students.
    5. Up until days before some students began moving in, students, faculty, and staff were left in the dark about the University’s reopening plan, including many RAs who lost their housing three days before moving in. 
    6. The University has laid off hundreds of employees, including some with decades of service to the University community. Not only is it unforgivable to strip them of their health insurance in a pandemic, but the layoffs are unnecessary due to the University’s endowment and $300 million line of credit. Other institutions have avoided layoffs by increasing the payout from their endowments.
    7. The University has suspended contributions to retirement funds, which constitutes a cut in compensation that is, again, unnecessary, unaccountable, and uncaring.
    8. The University has consistently ignored calls by the Faculty Senate, Faculty Association, Staff Advocacy and Equity Coalition, Student Association, and a multitude of student organizations who have urged the administration to correct their mistakes, and offered feasible alternatives to all of the decisions the administration has taken.
    9. The Department of Sociology, Department of Political Science, Department of American Studies, Department of Geography, Department of History, Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Chairs of Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, Chairs and Associate Deans of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and alumni and faculty of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program have all expressed a profound lack of confidence in the administration’s actions.
    10. A democratic replacement process for President LeBlanc and shared governance in the Board of Trustees will improve transparency and empower students, faculty, and staff to forge a more equitable University.

Hereby enacted on the 21st of September, 2020.

___________________________________________

Howard Brookins III, President of the Student Association

NO CONFIDENCE RALLY

Friday 9/11 @ 12

EVENT DETAILS HERE!

Meet us at Kogan Plaza to demand that GW do better! Wear a mask and be sure to social distance. Bring signs and wear GW colors! 

Can’t join us in person? No worries, join us virtually from wherever you are! 

PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR NETWORKS, INVITE YOUR STUDENTS, AND POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA! 


Students, staff, and faculty have NO CONFIDENCE in the leadership of LeBlanc and the Board of Trustees. We are demanding the removal of LeBlanc as president of GW and for the BOT to be accountable to our community, or the whole lot has got to go!

GWUFA has been documenting the reasons GW should have no confidence in LeBlanc or the Board that hired him since before the pandemic. Even more reasons have piled up in the past month: 

  • The hiring of Heather Swain as VP of Marketing and Communications, who covered up sexual abuse of hundreds by serial predator Larry Nassar at MSU. After widespread protest, GWU announced the position would not move forward, but offered no explanation for this egregious ethical failing.
  • 100s of staff layoffs carried out inhumanely and with no clear plan as to how the University plans to continue the critical work our colleagues performed.
  • Implementing cuts to financial aid days before classes started causing students to scramble for additional funds.
  • Imperiling the University’s financial health by hiring top level administrators during a hiring freeze.
  • Waiting until August to announce that fall semester would be online and then promptly locking faculty out of their offices. 

Full connection information:

Topic: GW Deserves Better!

Time: Sep 11, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Building the University We Want

Inside the University We Have

On Monday more than four hundred people attended the meeting organized by the Faculty Association to discuss our ongoing responses to the disastrous and haphazard leadership of the LeBlanc administration. 

We had much to bemoan and much to celebrate. We have lost friends and necessary co-workers to unnecessary and destructive layoffs. Our president and the enablers with whom he surrounds himself are pulling the university that we have worked hard to build toward the edge of an abyss.  But we also celebrate an outpouring of activism and energy by students, staff, and faculty to pull GW back. We celebrate the student-led petition that kept Heather Swain from joining the leadership of GW (read more here). We celebrate the staff members who founded the GW Staff Advocacy and Equity Coalition, a sibling organization that, like GWUFA, will fight corruption with compassion and despotism with solidarity (read more here).  We celebrate the many independent protests by faculty members at GW, including powerful letters of protest by the Department Chairs, Program Heads and Directors of the Columbian College (here) and the Dean’s Council of the Elliott School (here).
 

There are three immediate action items that GWUFA is throwing into this mix, and we hope you will participate in them to the extent that you are willing and able. 

  1. Are you ready to get involved in one of GWUFA’s new committees? Then get in touch! Here is the information:
    • No-Confidence Committee.  Are you with the 91% of the polled faculty and staff at the August 20 all-faculty meeting who expressed support for a no-confidence vote in the LeBlanc administration? Are you unwilling to let a clause in the GW bylaws prohibiting a  vote of no confidence in the President silence you and your colleagues? A broad public statement by faculty, staff, students, and alumni can be as powerful as a formal resolution. If you would like to help make this happen then contact notmypresident@gwufa.org
    • Direct Action Committee.  Are you one of the many faculty who have called for walk-outs, slow-downs, public protests, and a thousand other creative acts of political expression? Make them happen by joining this committee. In fact, the committee is meeting at 3pm on Thursday! Contact directaction@gwufa.org .
    • Organizing Committee.  Our strength is our numbers. Right now roughly 30% of all full-time non-medical faculty at GW are members of the Faculty Association.  Imagine what we could do if the number were twice that? If you like what you see, then this is the committee for you. Contact organizing@gwufa.org.
  2. Please talk to at least three colleagues about GWUFA. Find out if they are friends and supporters of these efforts.  Find out whether they would support a vote of no confidence in GW’s President.  Find out if they are ready to engage in some form of direct action, like a protest, and how motivated they would be to do so. Ask if you can pass on their information to the Faculty Association and, if they say yes, use this form to do so.  
  3. Express your protest! We have created graphics that you can use to let your networks know what you are doing to protest this administration — for the good of your colleagues and for your own sense of personal dignity. We call them “GWUF.emes” (GWUFA + meme), and you can add them to your emails, circulate them on social media, and post them on your syllabi (we’ve sized them in two ways, for Twitter and for Word documents — in the latter case we’ve drawn up instructions on how to insert them as banners). They’re designed to mimic GW’s aesthetic, in the guise of a “COVID-19 Update.” Help us make them viral (so to speak).We’re offering 8 different versions, 3 of which are reproduced above as samples; all 8 are available on our website for download. Choose GWUF.emes that work with your style: some are more passionate and some more matter-of-fact — just like we are. But we’re eager for additional suggestions. Please feel free to request your own particular wording, too, and we’ll draw it up for you.

If you are as worried about the immediate future of GW under the LeBlanc administration as we are, if you are as determined to make shared governance a reality, then now is the time to act. And there are many, many actions to take. We have listed just a few.  Have your own ideas? Run with them, and then let us know so we can celebrate you on our website (without using your name if you prefer, of course)! 

In solidarity and the joy of collaborative struggle,
 The George Washington University Faculty Association

MEETING for ALL FACULTY

Let’s Talk.

What’s been going on at GW is wild. Let’s gather so we can listen and share ideas about how to deal with the layoffs, retirement contribution suspensions, potential salary cuts, and bizarre hiring decisions the administration is enacting.

This meeting is open to ALL FACULTY. You don’t need to be a GWUFA member to join us (although we hope you’ll click here to become a Faculty Association member!)

We really look forward to seeing you all.

DATE:  Monday, August 24, 2020
TIME:  12:00noon – 2:00PM

Please forward INFO to any and all faculty at GW.
Meeting link:
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Meeting number: 120 519 7071
Password: pdWJu3MFP36


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Angry? So are we.

This is a call to move our anger to action.

If the University updates from last week weren’t so shocking, it would be easy to describe them in a single word: brutal. In the span of just three days, we learned that retirement contributions will be frozen beginning in October; academic tech is being merged with IT, forcing staff to reapply for jobs they just got fired from; more of our co-workers were laid off; and there is a salary cut of at least 10% in the pipeline for faculty and staff. At the same time, President LeBlanc made a third senior hire in the midst of the University’s hiring freeze: VP of Marketing and Communications, Heather Swain. Swain’s portfolio includes obstructing investigations into Michigan State University’s role in covering up decades of child sexual abuse perpetrated by physician Larry Nassar against gymnasts in his care.  After immediate and mass outrage, including a student-organized petition with nearly 1,500 signatures and poignant letters from survivors, the GW administration withdrew Swain’s appointment without explanation.   

Although we’re relieved Swain will not join the GW administration, we are left wondering: What else is the current GW administration perpetrating that requires the spin-doctoring of such a ruthless and unprincipled public relations professional? 

The latest news brings more discouragement. The administration has “recalculated” the financial aid allotments of many GW students without notice, just a couple weeks before the school year begins. The rumor is that as many as 500 students will now be unable to pay for GW this fall due to these sudden, last-minute changes to their financial aid packages.

At no university like GWnot NYU, not USC, not BU, not Georgetownare administrators simultaneously imposing cuts to retirement benefits, salary cuts, and layoffs. Likewise, the proposed, regressive, flat 10-15% cut to all faculty and staff salaries is higher than other universities’ salary cuts. The universities that are instituting cuts are limiting them to 2-5%, and their cuts are progressive, so that the lowest-paid employees’ salaries are impacted the least or not at all while the highest paid employees and administrators’ salaries are hit hardest. 

We all must remember that the Faculty Senate made sensible recommendations for budget cuts that do not harm the people who work and study at GW.  But they have all been repeatedly ignored by the administration. Instead of drawing on the $300 million credit line, increasing the endowment payout, or cutting perks and bonuses for the highest paid administrators, the administration has chosen to cut student financial aid, cut faculty salaries, and lay off workers.

So, yes, we are as enraged as you are. And rage is an intelligent emotion that tells us when vital needs are going unmet. Right now the list of unmet needs is a long one—basic economic security, respect, feeling valued, equitable treatment—but at base the administration’s actions are infuriating because they are utterly devoid of compassion. The ability to recognize, feel, and care for one another’s suffering is fundamental to our humanity. The recent decisions are an attack on this most basic need.  


The test before us, then, is whether or not we move from anger to the actions that can restore compassion, and deliver justice at GW.

Here are some ways to begin this work:     

Refuse to treat your co-workers like the administration treats them, as merely functional and expendable subordinates: Remember this as you make requests, especially of staff members, during the ongoing chaos and danger of the coronavirus epidemic and the haphazard and last-minute implementation of remote teaching. Consider if the thing you are demanding of a co-worker is as simple as it might at first seem, given the very real danger of infection, the threat of getting laid off, and the low morale caused by a callous and uncaring administration. Trust that this person is doing their best, just like you.

         -Refuse to treat your students like the administration treats them, as revenue-generating ‘customers’ rather than as individuals dealing with the same interrelated crises we all are: The University’s last-minute cuts to financial aid are only its most recent display of cruelty. Most of us have no idea what our students have been through since the pandemic began. We suggest that classes prioritize flexibility and kindness above all else as we face down a virtual fall.

-Refuse to stay isolated: The administration is capitalizing on the multiple forms of isolation that currently define university life. It is summer, students are not returning to campus, faculty will be locked out of campus by the end of the month, and many of us remain in some state of quarantine. We must stay connected, and generate power from these connections. Some of us have been considering how to perform 10 % less work to account for our anticipated decrease in pay. We should remember that any efforts we take will be more powerful if they are collective, coordinated, and place the most protected (tenured faculty) at the forefront. 

         -Refuse to make sacrifices for the administration:  The administration has made a number of decisions that threaten many of our needs. Some have expressed concerns that any work slowdown or stoppage will only harm students. But we must remember that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and those conditions are being shaped by the administration’s reckless actions. Whatever you and your colleagues decide is the right response—refusing committee work, refusing GPAC assessment, withholding grades, shortening class time by ten minutes, staging a virtual walk out once a week, contacting media and alumni—we encourage you to have an honest conversation with your students about what you are doing and how they can help in the effort.

The administration has made its values clear. Now it is up to us to respond with even greater clarity about our own values: compassion and respect for one another, students, staff, and faculty are never optional, and in times of crisis such as this one they are a moral and strategic imperative.

Faculty have been sharing their own creative, diverse, courageous responses to this callous administration, and we want to convey their actions and amplify their words so we can learn from each other what we, as a faculty, can do together to stop the administrations’ actions. Please share your ideas by clicking here:  Anger is not transformative, it is initiatory.”   –Ruth King

In solidarity,

The GWU Faculty Association

GW Students Call for an End to Layoffs

Increase GW Admin’s Transparency and Stop Unnecessary Staff Firings

Petition text reproduced with permission below:

Alison Gentry created this petition to pressure George Washington University

As students of the George Washington University, we stand with staff and support their desires to be heard, respected, included, and most importantly, to advocate for themselves collectively and without retaliation now and in the future with GW leadership. We believe that all members of the GW community are equal stakeholders, and we are disappointed by the disregard the administration has shown for staff both during COVID-19 and under normal circumstances. The staff at GW works tirelessly — usually for wages below industry average and also below the average cost of living for the Washington, DC area — to carry out the mission of the University. They work behind the scenes, often without recognition, to provide support and services to students and faculty with the express purpose of enhancing the student experience and academic delivery. Our tuition dollars not only pay for the salaries of our faculty but for the staff, who contribute to the “Only at GW” experience so frequently touted by leadership. We are outraged that these very people upon whose shoulders the operations of the University stand have been disenfranchised. GW has been enriched by their service, and in what is likely one of the University’s darkest hours, we believe that we have a responsibility to these employees and the greater Washington, DC community. After all, we rise by lifting others.

Since staff currently do not have a collective representative voice with the higher administration at GW, we are writing to use our position as paying students to support the members of our community who directly contribute to the University’s mission through the establishment of a staff association with representation in GW’s shared governance. Further, we are writing to use our voice to ask President Le Blanc, CFO Mark Diaz, and the Board of Trustees to consider the following requests, aimed to protect all members of our community and to help GW weather the financial shortfalls presented by COVID-19. We acknowledge the deeply complex and difficult decisions the University must make, but we also believe that there are far better solutions GW can take to address such matters that do not involve eliminating staff members’ livelihoods and health insurance coverage during a global pandemic. 

First and foremost, we are calling for an immediate halt to layoffs and RIF. COVID-19, despite being a serious public health emergency causing a negative economic impact, is a temporary disruption for institutions of higher learning such as GW that allege to have long temporal perspectives. As such, institutions like GW should not be using permanent termination decisions as a solution to this temporary financial shortfall. While we recognize that some furloughs may be unavoidable and prudent, we recommend that the University exercise this option with caution and provide adequate benefits for those impacted by such decisions. The administration must consider the disproportionate impact that such structural and temporary personnel changes have on those in GW’s employ who are people of color, women, over 65, disabled, and on the local DC community. A consideration of the whole person and the role of GW in the broader community with which we exist must be made. While on paper it may make sense to cut payroll for facilities employees as well as events and venues by firing staff in those departments en masse, such decisions are only further contributing to a national economic crisis that will threaten the livelihood of parents, students, alumni, and staff for years to come. We believe GW has an obligation to the District of Columbia as its second-largest employer and real estate holder — this is part of the social contract GW agrees to as a beneficiary of tax breaks, funding, and ancillary benefits received by residing in the District of Columbia. Such obligations should supersede a single year gap in revenue. 

Additionally, we are calling for more clear and transparent communication from the University regarding decisions being made that affect students, faculty, and staff. We are tired of communication that lacks substance. We are tired of false promises and shortened and/or unclear timelines that cause undue stress and anxiety. While we are adapting and striving to remain flexible, we believe the University has failed to be forthright and honest in how decisions are made. Further, we believe GW has not informed the student body intentionally in an attempt to mire our own decision making. We are now scrambling to react to GW’s announcements as we are faced with our own difficult financial decisions due to last minute changes in transportation, housing, FWS assignments, and financial aid, and we have no other choice than to stay the course, pause our enrollment, or leave the University we call home entirely. We surmise that GW leadership is aware that withdrawal and a gap year during a global pandemic is an unappealing option and that our window of application to alternative universities and funding has closed. Your decisions and lack of clear communication and planning have eroded our confidence in your leadership and run counter to the values of safety, care, and efficiency you claim to uphold as leaders of the University. 

Finally, it must come as no surprise to GW leadership that it has been inferred by many that these staffing cuts are a back-door method for President Le Blanc to enact his 20/30 strategic plan, which was resoundingly rejected by the GW community when introduced in 2019. There was, and is, little to no support of the plan’s calling for a reduction of enrollments by 20%. Further, the GW community also vocally and vehemently opposed the push by President Le Blanc to increase STEM enrollments to 30%. Such a change would destroy the historic and enduring strengths upon which GW’s reputation is built, including its political science, international affairs, and public policy and affairs programs. We are writing to demand that the administration’s promise to pause such strategic initiatives is honored and that the operational changes that have been undertaken do not seek to serve this rejected initiative further.

Overall, we believe it is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees and the administration to exercise all available options that will not have a prolonged negative impact on GW before electing to furlough or layoff employees, increase tuition, or dramatically change the landscape of the university. It is your duty to thoughtfully innovate while preserving what matters most to GW: our shared community and commitment to bettering the global world in which we reside. We believe that GW staff has a right to voice their concerns openly and freely and should be provided access to the shared governance and freedom of expression from which students and faculty benefit.

Add your signature here.

You are about to get a 10% pay cut.

The Faculty Association has learned that the LeBlanc administration plans to announce a 10-15% salary cut for all faculty next week. We have taken the unusual step of attempting to reach every full-time* faculty member at GW because we think you deserve to know about administrative decisions that will directly impact your livelihood. 

There are many ways that the budget shortfall can be addressed without directly harming the people who make our university work. Finance experts in the Faculty Senate have shown that GW’s budget shortfall, while serious, is temporary and manageable, and they have put forward a variety of alternatives to the administration that do not involve sacrificing people’s income in the midst of a virological and economic crisis.

The layoffs the administration is enacting are unnecessary.

The planned across-the-board pay cut for faculty is unnecessary.

Let’s remember a few things:

  • Your salary has already been cut. GW’s matching contributions for retirement ($1.50 for every $1 you contributed) were part of your compensation. Without this match, your before-tax salary is taking a hit. The freeze on our merit raises amounts to lost compensation as well. Now they are planning to take even more.
  • Our colleagues in the Faculty Senate proposed measures to meet any short-term dips in GW’s operating revenues.  Instead of enacting these sensible and faculty-designed options, the administration has moved to layoffs, suspension of benefits, and pay cuts for the most vulnerable among us.  The administration is choosing to address the short-term budget shortfall by disproportionately harming its employees. Meanwhile, one of the measures proposed by the Senate is a cut to top-paid administrators’ special benefits and deferred compensation, which they have chosen to ignore.
  • Increasing the payout from GW’s $1.78 billion endowment is still an option. Even expert university administrators admit that a 7% endowment payout is sustainable.  That is just 2% above the legally mandated amount for non-profits like GW. According to the Faculty Senate’s proposal, even raising the payout by 1% would result in 16 million dollars. Increasing the payout of the endowment by this moderate amount should be the first move, not the last.
  • Months ago, GW secured a $300 million line of credit, backed by its considerable real estate holdings, to address the COVID crisis. Yet the university has not accessed it.
  • Drawing on reserves within each school would also help mitigate the budget shortfall, but it is unclear that the administration has even considered accessing these “rainy day funds.”  
  • The administration’s claim of a new budget shortfall of $220 million has not been documented nor has it been verified by the Faculty Senate. Despite repeated requests from the Faculty Senate, the administration has consistently refused to provide the data to verify this projected shortfall. 

And let’s consider a few questions: 

  • Why does the university administration continue to ignore the perfectly feasible fiscal options the Faculty Senate has proposed? Is the administration taking advantage of the ongoing crisis in order to implement its 20/30 plan?
  • How can the university justify laying off our colleagues, suspending our benefits, and cutting our salaries for an indeterminate period without cutting the administration’s million-dollar salaries, bonuses, and perks? (Will we ever recoup our losses, in personnel and in our personal finances?) The 20% cut to President LeBlanc’s base salary, for example, is set to expire in January 2021, to say nothing of additional compensation accruing to him and other senior administrators. Why are faculty and staff members being forced to bear the burden of the budget shortfall?
  • Why, immediately following the announcement of the updated $220 million budget shortfall, did the University announce yet another senior administrative hire, a new Vice President for Communications and Marketing? This is the third senior administrative hire since the COVID crisis began and the GW administration announced a University-wide hiring freeze.
  • Why are the only faculty involved in any of these decisions those that are currently administrators? What ever happened to shared governance at GW?   

The Faculty Association finds these points and unanswered questions alarming. We have emailed every full-time* faculty member at GW because we suspect you may be alarmed too.

We would like to hear from you. Let us know how you think the faculty—all of us who actually accomplish the teaching, research, and service missions of the university—should respond to this situation. Tell us what you are witnessing or experiencing in your corner of GW.  We will collect your suggestions and information, and offer responses asap.

By the way, if you have not heard of the GWU Faculty Association before, we would like to welcome you to join.  It’s a bargain: free.  Membership simply means we’ll keep you up-to-date on anything we learn that might affect your ability to do your job and feed your families.

*We specify “full-time” here because it is not yet clear how the pay cut would affect part-time faculty members who are represented by SEIU Local 500.  GWUFA works in full solidarity with the union and our part-time colleagues.

In solidarity,

The GWU Faculty Association

Washington DC-area Professors Call for Online Instruction this Fall

Reprinted with permission from the Academe magazine blog.

Faculty, Fearing COVID-19 Community Spread, Call for Online-Only Fall Semester

Guest Blogger / 4 hours ago

BY MARCUS ALFRED, ERIN D. CHAPMAN, PHILIP N. COHEN, HEIDI LI FELDMAN, BETHANY L. LETIECQ, BINH Q. TRAN, AND JULIA G. YOUNG

We are professors at universities across the DC metropolitan area. And, like so many of our colleagues nationwide, we fear our communities will not be safe if DC-area colleges and universities open as planned this fall.

As teachers and researchers, we desperately miss being on campus and in the classroom with our students. Yet we also fear for our safety, as well as the welfare of faculty, staff, students, contracted workers, and residents of local communities if universities reopen as planned in a few weeks, bringing tens of thousands of students back to our campuses and surrounding communities.

We have reviewed our campus reopening plans. While they represent hours of work by many dedicated professionals, they simply do not do enough—because they cannot do enough—to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks among people who live, work, and study on or near our campuses.

The risks and challenges of reopening campuses are clear: numerous staff, faculty, and students have already died in spring 2020; new outbreaks among collegiate athletes and other college students have been reported on campuses nationwide. And we are confronted daily with new evidence about COVID-19: how it spreads, and how it is damaging people’s bodies—even those without symptoms. Recently, some scientists have called for more research on COVID-19 airborne transmissionAnother study reports that older children and young adults spread the virus as much as older adults.

The outbreaks that would result from reopening campuses would inevitably overwhelm student health services and local health care systems. All our universities lack the resources needed to implement mass testing and conduct the extensive contact tracing needed in order to control community spread.

Even more urgently, how will our universities protect our most vulnerable workers? Our institutions are located in, serve, and employ people from diverse communities. In particular, reopened universities will rely on custodial and dining staff workers, most of whom are Black and Latinx, to complete the deep cleaning and food preparation necessary to operate our institutions during a pandemic. These essential workers labor for low wages and often receive few benefits. Low-income and racially and ethnically minoritized communities are among those at highest risk for COVID-19 illness and death.

Given the dramatically increasing COVID-19 infection rates both nationally and regionally since July 1, universities must prioritize the preservation of life and the protection of health. As institutions committed to learning and advancing knowledge, we especially should heed the science and data, and do right by our communities.

Local K-12 schools in our area are already taking action and moving to fully online education. Expressing his distress over the life-and-death decisions being made, one Fairfax, Virginia,  school board member was recently quoted: “I hope to God I’m wrong. But when schools reopen, people are going to die.”

For our region’s colleges and universities, the only reasonable and ethical path forward in the next month is to deliver all instruction online and to open residence halls only to those students in greatest need of housing. We know that this will place financial strain on our institutions, and we will stand with our administrators in demanding more financial support from state and federal governments.

We advocate continued full pay for all support staff during this emergency and for adequate protective gear for those who must be on duty. At a moment when universities are calling for racial justice, protecting and providing for vulnerable workers, who are disproportionately people of color, should be paramount.

Additionally, we are committed to advocating for and protecting contingent faculty and graduate student teachers, many of whom fear reprisal if they request to teach online, and who are often first in line when funding cuts hit.

As our country flails in its efforts to battle a deadly virus, universities need to make a hard pivot to save lives. We should refocus, expending our considerable resources and talent not on reopening plans but instead on developing the best possible online educational experiences for our students and doing our part to bring this pandemic to an end.

Our guest bloggers are faculty members at universities in Washington, DC, or in its Maryland or Virginia suburbs. Marcus Alfred is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Howard University and president of the Howard University AAUP chapter. Erin D. Chapman is associate professor of history at George Washington University and president of the GWU Faculty Association. Philip N. Cohen is professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Heidi Li Feldman is professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. Bethany L. Letiecq is associate professor of human development and family science at George Mason University and president of the GMU chapter of the AAUP. Binh Q. Tran, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Julia G. Young, associate professor of history, are faculty at the Catholic University of America and executive board members of the CUA Faculty Assembly.

Sacrifice Property, Not People

We in the Faculty Association are awed and galvanized by the honor and courage of GW’s Council of Librarians in declaring their prioritization of people—their coworkers—over the material resources they oversee. Especially in this unprecedented moment of instability and fear, this principle must guide the university as a whole. 

 Like the Council of Librarians, we assert that GW’s people matter more to the university than its real estate holdings, the million-dollar to half-million-dollar salaries it awards its overpaid administrators, or the performance of its endowment investments. Now more than ever, the university needs the expertise, dedication, institutional knowledge, and experience of our existing faculty and staff members. The loss of staff and faculty would further devastate our morale, stymie our scholarly and pedagogical innovation, and impoverish the community that is this institution. 

 As experts in our fields and experienced workers, faculty and staff members are prepared to develop new, ethical solutions in the face of the pandemic and resultant financial uncertainty. Already, the Faculty Senate has proposed a viable, responsible series of budget cuts that avoids the devastation of layoffs and furloughs and highlights bloated administrative salaries, bonuses and perks. Every staff and faculty position is necessary to the academic mission of the university. In contrast, layoffs of staff and faculty, in addition to putting people’s livelihoods and health at risk—a set of risks that would reverberate across the economy and wellbeing of the Washington, DC area—would impede our effectiveness in teaching and research for years to come. 

 Rather than resort to layoffs, furloughs, cuts to student financial aid, the rescission of employment benefits and retirement contributions, or even to the elimination of entire departments and programs, the university administration must work openly and democratically, according to the principles of shared governance, with the faculty and staff to develop an innovative path to financial stability. Furthermore, we must not allow the Board of Trustees or the university administration to use this financial situation to clandestinely build the attenuated institution the LeBlanc administration has advocated. The university must utilize its $300 million line of credit, its endowment, and its cash reserves to protect the university’s most valuable resource: its people. We must preserve the skills and wisdom we have developed collectively and collaboratively over many years. We cannot save the university by destroying it.


Council of Librarians:
COVID-19 Budget Resolution
Drafted by the Council Executive Committee: May 7, 2020
Submitted as amended for a full Council vote: May 21, 2020
Resolution adopted: May 27, 2020

Whereas the Council of Librarians has shared interests in and responsibilities for collection development, and whereas we wish to safeguard the future of LAI as an essential resource within the University, the Council of Librarians recommends that, should the University require FY21 LAI budget reductions, we prioritize collections cuts over staff furloughs or layoffs.

We believe in the primary and vital importance of staff to the continued success of the University. This is especially important given the constraints under which LAI is already operating as a result of layoffs in 2015 and 2016 and subsequent vacancies that the current hiring freeze has prevented us from filling.

Journals, books, and databases that we do not acquire this year will likely be available for acquisition next year or the year after. As engaged professionals, Council Librarians are prepared to develop resourceful, innovative solutions in the face of financial uncertainty. Cuts to LAI staff, in addition to putting people’s livelihoods and health at risk, leave gaps in organizational knowledge and capacity that will impede our effectiveness in supporting teaching and research for years to come. Every position across the entirety of LAI, not just in the Council of Librarians, is invaluable to LAI’s on-going work and the academic mission and values of the University.

In these unprecedented times we believe that it is important to affirm that people matter more to the success of a library than its collections. The loss of staff within LAI will further devastate morale and stymie innovation within the organization. Now more than ever, the University needs the expertise, dedication, leadership, and capacity for care at which LAI staff excel. Therefore, in accordance with the roles and responsibilities of librarians as outlined in Section X of the Council of Librarians Code, we urge that if necessary, and with due consideration given to the constraints of the university’s fiduciary obligations, FY 2021 collections funds be repurposed in order to protect LAI’s most important resource: its people.

How (Not) to Corporatize a University

GWUFA reprints here, with permission, a recent article by Dane Kennedy in Academe.

Corporate culture is incompatible with shared governance.
By Dane Kennedy

For all those aspiring university presidents out there, today’s lesson is about how the introduction of a corporate mode of governance can threaten the institution you lead, not to mention your own reputation. Our case study comes from George Washington University, a private Research I university chartered by an act of Congress in 1821 and located in the heart of Washington, DC. Like almost every other university in the country, it faces serious financial problems because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those problems, however, have been exacerbated by the policies that the university president has pursued over the past two years. Drawing on corporate models and consultants, he has sought to radically reshape the character and purpose of the university through a series of peremptory actions. Even before the pandemic struck, these actions had precipitated a crisis of confidence in his leadership, spurring faculty members and students to call for his resignation. Now, as the university struggles to cope with the challenges posed by COVID-19, there is widespread suspicion that he intends to use the crisis to advance his corporatist agenda, stirring even deeper distrust and division.

Step 1: Find a Throat to Choke

Thomas LeBlanc was appointed president of George Washington University in July 2017. He came from the University of Miami, where he had served as executive vice president and provost. Taking a page from the playbook of the modern CEO, he purged most of the previous president’s upper-level administrators and brought in his own team from Miami, which number at least nine senior administrators. They include his majordomo, Mark Diaz, executive vice president and chief financial officer, who reportedly bragged about how he got results—by finding “a single throat to choke.” Management gurus recommend more euphemistic language, of course, and a good example of that is evident in the title and duties of another of the administration’s new appointees. The assistant vice president of talent and organizational development is responsible for “onboarding, succession planning, performance management . . .  and employee engagement,” which are classic examples of management speak. Noticeably absent from such business jargon or the unbowdlerized version preferred by Diaz is anything resembling the notion of shared governance.

Step 2: Apply the Shock Doctrine

Every university president knows it’s best to reveal unpopular decisions during the summer, when faculty, students, and alumni are dispersed and distracted. In summer 2019 LeBlanc made a stunning announcement: he intended to reduce George Washington University’s undergraduate enrollment by 20 percent while increasing the proportion of students in STEM disciplines to 30 percent. This decision caused shock and dismay for several reasons. First, George Washington University is a tuition-dependent institution with a relatively modest endowment. Any reduction in the student body means a reduction in revenue, which almost certainly means staff and program cuts. With less revenue, the pool of funds for need-based financial aid shrinks as well, diminishing student diversity. Second, the university has built its reputation by concentrating on the opportunities that are uniquely available in the nation’s capital. The cosmopolitan character, political dynamism, and cultural riches of Washington, DC, attract particular types of students, and their interests are mirrored in the university’s strengths, which include its programs in international affairs, political science, and history. Increasing the proportion of STEM students will likely erode those strengths. And STEM programs are expensive: they have higher start-up and operational costs, and the nationwide competition for STEM students prompts institutions to offer them deeper tuition discounts. Prior to being pushed out of office, the university’s previous provost ran financial models that predicted the proposed changes would lead to revenue losses of as much as $36.2 million per year. More recently, a faculty study suggested that the changes could reduce annual income by $80 million.

Why in the face of these facts was LeBlanc so intent on pursuing this plan? He never gave a satisfactory answer. He suggested that the reduction in enrollment was necessary to prepare for a projected decline in the pool of college-bound students, though applications to the university were strong. He also argued that it would “improve the student experience,” though he failed to explain how admitting fewer students would accomplish that goal—or why 20 percent was the optimal percentage. LeBlanc’s case for increasing the proportion of STEM students to 30 percent rested on the claim that it was necessary to bring George Washington University in line with its peer institutions, though why that should matter remains a mystery. It also ignored the inconvenient fact that neighboring Georgetown University falls short of the 30 percent threshold for STEM students as well, suggesting that location may have something to do with this anomaly. Lastly, LeBlanc sought to assure the faculty that the university had the financial resources required to carry out his “20/30 plan,” though he refused to share much of the data his team had run on the plan’s economic implications. It is hardly surprising, then, that many members of the university community concluded that the president’s plan was a recipe for disaster. The real question was whether this disaster had been set in motion by design. Had LeBlanc and his Miami colleagues concluded that the radical institutional change they sought required the sudden shock of “disaster capitalism,” as Naomi Klein famously put it in The Shock Doctrine? Had the corporate world’s infatuation with downsizing and “creative destruction” infected the thinking of George Washington University’s leaders? And if so, was it a harbinger of the future for other universities?

Step 3: Compel Compliance

Even though the president’s plans were almost certain to cause substantial revenue losses and significant program cutbacks, they didn’t stop him from enlisting the services of the Disney Institute, a consulting agency that advertises itself as the “professional-development and external-training arm of the Walt Disney Company.” (LeBlanc steadfastly refused to reveal how much he paid the agency, claiming contractual constraints, but rumors suggested that the amount might have been as high as $3 million or $4 million.) What George Washington University got for its money was a survey of sentiments among staff and faculty, which purportedly revealed that they suffered from a culture of negativity. What followed was a plan to rectify the supposed problem through a series of Disney-designed workshops collectively dubbed the “culture initiative.” It should be stressed that the Disney Institute’s idea of culture had nothing to do with scholarly or even popular understandings of that term. Rather, it was all about corporate culture, a concept that has been all the rage in the business world—and now has begun to worm its way into our universities. The professed aim of corporate culture is to instill a sense of shared purpose among employees, but its real objective is far more coercive and insidious.

All university staff members and managers were ordered to attend the culture initiative workshops, and faculty members were strongly “encouraged” to do so. Each of the workshops, which ran for nearly two hours, was held in a campus ballroom large enough to accommodate about a hundred employees. What the attendees experienced was a cross between a pep rally and an indoctrination camp. With great fanfare, they were introduced to the university’s nonsensical new slogan, “Only at GW, we change the world, one life at a time.” (We change the world only at GW?) This was followed by another clumsy branding exercise, this one draped in the tinsel of inspirational words. “Our GW Values” were revealed to the assembled masses as “integrity,” “courage,” “respect,” “excellence,” “diversity,” and “openness.” (Did the Disney team discover this banal list of words in the dusty file cabinets of the long-defunct Mickey Mouse Club?) It goes without saying that these consultants from the corporate world had no idea that the values universities actually aspire to honor and promote include innovative research, teaching excellence, critical inquiry, and new ideas.

Yet the most disturbing aspect of the workshops was revealed when they turned to the university’s three “service priorities.” While the first of these priorities—“care”—was pure pablum (“I support a caring environment by greeting, welcoming, and thanking others”), the other two offered insight into the culture initiative’s real agenda. One of these priorities was “safety”; the other, “efficiency.” Both were intended to get employees to improve their job performance. The first safety recommendation was an injunction to “keep areas clean, well maintained, and inviting.” An important measure of efficiency was a willingness to “embrace change” and be “open to new ways of working.” One wonders whether work efficiency would have been improved by redirecting the millions of dollars paid to the Disney Institute into staff salaries or bonuses instead. But that misses the point. The main purpose of this corporate-culture initiative is obviously to create a more disciplined and compliant work force. Indeed, workshop leaders confessed as much in one session, acknowledging in an aside that “compliance” was a central, if largely unmentioned, pillar of the project.

While maintenance workers, office staff, lower-level managers, and many of the faculty were herded into their indoctrination camps on campus, administrators and other select members of the university community—those presumably deemed to be opinion leaders—were invited to all-expenses-paid trips to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Here they were given the opportunity “to gain firsthand insight into Disney’s approach to culture.” Exactly how many people took part in this boondoggle or how much it cost the university is a closely guarded secret, but word did leak out about a special two-day “Our GW Leadership Summit” at Disney World in early February 2020. Those who attended this extravaganza were treated to a “Happily Ever After” evening show and granted insight into “how Disney has created a values-vision structure that 100% of the employee population aligns to.” In order to ensure attendees understood that LeBlanc expected them to align with his own “values-vision structure,” the summit concluded with this chilling expression of fealty: “Each of the participants will create a written commitment and action plan to present to President Tom LeBlanc. These requirements will be the start of individual accountability to make a difference with Our GW.”

Step 4: Deflect and Stonewall Dissent

Despite the best efforts of the president, he was unable to obtain the compliance his Disney consultants had promised. In the fall following his summer bombshell, an alarmed faculty packed a university-wide special assembly to voice their concerns about his 20/30 plan and passed a resolution calling on him to reveal the data and rationale for his decision to the faculty senate. Although LeBlanc publicly promised to do so, his promise proved empty. The faculty senate committees that were established to gather information from the administration for an independent assessment of the plan reported on their findings at another highly anticipated faculty assembly the following spring, and their conclusions were damning. The “fragmentary and incomplete” information they had received “does not logically support the 20/30 plan.” Because of the dearth of useful data, the committees could not provide any meaningful evaluation of the impact of the plan “on the curricular, research, and diversity and inclusion missions of the University.” Moreover, the president refused to reveal to the committees how much the Disney Institute’s culture initiative had cost or even how the culture survey it conducted had been designed and analyzed. The faculty senate’s general conclusion was a thumping understatement: the president’s plan “did not properly follow the principles of shared governance.”

While the faculty assembly rules did not permit a direct vote of no confidence in the president, it did allow the faculty to endorse the committees’ reports and recommendations, which they proceeded to do by a vote of 189 to 0. This bears repeating: academics who normally can be counted on to argue and critique and parse almost any resolution imaginable voted unanimously in favor of the committees’ damning conclusions. It was a stinging rebuke of the president. And it was followed soon thereafter by a petition, signed by 135 faculty members, calling on LeBlanc to resign.

Students objected to the president’s plans as well. More than a hundred of them signed the resignation petition, even though it was circulated mainly among faculty, and the editors of the student newspaper, the GW Hatchet, called on the president to resign. One student group, the Progressive Student Union, charged that the president’s proposed changes are “destructive and pose an existential threat to the GW community as a whole.” Among its likely consequences, they warned, was a decline in student diversity, leading to an “exclusively rich and white student body.” Sunrise GW, another student organization, targeted the outsized influence of corporate interests on campus as part of its campaign for the divestment of fossil-fuel stocks. When a member of this group confronted LeBlanc as he walked across campus and asked him how he would respond if the student government voted in favor of a divestment resolution, his bizarre response drew national media attention. He asked, “What if the majority of students agreed to shoot all the black people here?” and added, “Do I say, ‘Ah, well, the majority voted?’ No.” The sheer insensitivity of this racially charged, not to say strange, comment sparked widespread outrage and forced LeBlanc to issue a public apology. But no one remarked upon an equally troubling aspect of his reply—its rejection of the premise that the opinion of the majority of the student body merited attention and respect.

The same dismissive attitude was evident in the president’s dealings with the faculty. Members of his administrative team chided faculty critics for being “disrespectful” to him, though LeBlanc himself told a group of employees that his critics were “jerks” and “asses.” A few days before the spring faculty assembly, Mark Diaz, the executive vice president, gave a gratuitous poke in the eye to those who questioned the culture initiative by announcing that the administration was “moving forward to improve GW’s culture” by partnering “with the polling service Gallup to measure [the initiative’s] progress.” Those wondering how much this new corporate partnership would cost the university are not holding their breath for an answer.

In the immediate aftermath of the assembly’s unanimous vote, LeBlanc did adopt a more conciliatory tone, issuing an anodyne letter with boilerplate language about how he had “listened and heard [faculty] concerns.” He also made it clear, however, that he had no intention of reevaluating his policy objectives. Notably, the letter was cosigned by the chair of the board of trustees. It sent the unmistakable message that the president retained the support of the only constituency that evidently matters to him—the trustees.

Corporate vs. Academic Governance

In the opening pages of Reframing Academic Leadership, Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos make the point that “the differences between business and higher education do matter.” Higher education, they note, has its own “goals, tasks, employees, governance structures, values, technologies, and history.” For many readers, Bolman and Gallos seem to be stating the obvious. Yet a surprising number of university leaders have pursued policies that erode or even deny the differences between universities and corporations. Their reasons for doing so doubtless are related to the structural forces that have transformed universities, along with their own duties, in recent decades. Universities have increasingly established research partnerships with corporations, turned to corporate titans for high-profile donations, and stocked their governing boards with figures from the corporate world. Many university presidents probably spend more time in the company of business bigwigs than they do among their own faculty, students, and staff. It should come as no surprise, then, that corporate models of management have influenced university administrators. For many of them, it must be tempting to assert the sort of authority over their institutions that CEOs wield, to demand the forms of compliance from their employees that large companies require, to carry out the sweeping changes—euphemistically referred to as “creative destruction”—that the business world celebrates as bold and transformative leadership. But emulating corporate practices can cause big problems for universities and their leaders. As Bolman and Gallos point out, shared governance is integral to institutions of higher education, and when the leaders of these institutions fail, they often do so because they do not bother “to take people along with them” by engaging them as partners in the decision-making process.

At George Washington University, President LeBlanc and his team have shown no interest in taking the university community along with them. They have preferred to demand a culture of compliance, to cloak their decisions in secrecy, and to silence those who express dissenting opinions or call for shared governance. Now they confront a crisis caused by the threat of the coronavirus that places unprecedented pressures on the university. While the pandemic has forced LeBlanc to announce a “pause” to his strategic plans, it has not led him to abandon them. In fact, there are indications that he intends to use the crisis as the excuse for the radical restructuring of the university he has sought all along. He no longer needs to manufacture the conditions for “disaster capitalism” through the 20/30 plan now that they have arrived on the wings of the pandemic. The trustees have directed the administration to “consider all appropriate options” (emphasis in the original), and the president has announced that there will be layoffs and furloughs, with programmatic cuts sure to follow. For a storied university that celebrates its two-hundredth anniversary next year, it’s hard to see how this Disney-inspired “values-vision structure” ends happily ever after.

Dane Kennedy is the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, where he teaches and writes about British and world history. His email address is dkennedy@gwu.edu.