Statement from SEAS Chairs and Associate Deans

To: Thomas LeBlanc, President

Grace E. Speights Chair, Board of Trustees

Brian Blake, Provost

Mark Diaz, Executive Vice President & Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Cc: John Lach, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science

From: SEAS Chairs and Associate Deans


Subject: Statement on behalf of the SEAS community


We, the SEAS Chairs and Associate Deans, feel compelled to communicate the frustration and hurt that the SEAS community is feeling. Our constituents may not be as vocal as some other colleagues but that doesn’t mean that we don’t share many grave concerns.


We recognize that this is an extraordinarily difficult situation and there is no roadmap. Even with the best intentions, many people will disagree on the right course of action. We also recognize that the situation is dynamic, and it may not be feasible for all stakeholders to have a voice in every decision.


However, none of that excuses the way decisions have been communicated and implemented. We call for the administration to:


1)    Communicate earlier and explain why the actions taken support the goal of riding out the pandemic. Uncertainty and misinformation – particularly among our staff – is itself causing significant pain.


2)    Respect our local knowledge of how things run within schools. Things run differently in different schools for legitimate reasons. Let us explain to you how the proposed changes will impact our core mission. We can be constructive partners if you listen to us, but so far faculty have been ignored.


3)    Empathize with the people affected by these decisions. We in SEAS have worked together for generations to build a community that thrives on a strong sense of mutual respect among faculty, staff, and students. These values are not reflected in recent actions taken by the administration.


The academic units are on the front lines of implementing our mission. We are committed to this and have worked tirelessly over the summer to ensure an excellent educational experience for our students. Recent actions of the central administration have made this more difficult.


We are GW. Our people are a community, not a commodity. We should be in this together – faculty, staff, students, and the administration. Yet, we are not. Recently communication has broken down and trust has been lost. Actions are needed to rebuild that trust in order to move forward together and so that the prevailing dysfunction doesn’t hurt our students.


Murray Loew, Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Robert Pless, Chair, Department of Computer Science

Majid Manzari, Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Suresh Subramaniam, Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Zoe Szajnfarber, Chair, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Michael Plesniak, Chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Rumana Riffat, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, SEAS

Can Korman, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, SEAS

Bhagi Narahari, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, SEAS

Published by GWUFA

GWUFA is a grass-roots, faculty-run organization and has no official relation to the university administration or the Faculty Senate.