College is all about evaluation. Students are graded on a day-to-day basis and professors and teaching assistants are assessed at the end of each semester, so it only makes sense that the University’s top two leaders – University President Thomas LeBlanc and Provost Forrest Maltzman – are held to the same standard and evaluated regularly.
The review process is a good step toward holding officials accountable and ensuring they are doing all they can to benefit the entire GW community. But for the reviews to be effective and add value, the review must be in depth and the results should be released to the public.
The University’s top leader must be held accountable for the state of GW. With lofty goals like shifting campus culture for both students and faculty, the community should weigh in on how LeBlanc is progressing toward his goals and serving his community.
It is especially important to evaluate LeBlanc in his second year helming the University, but Maltzman should be reviewed too even though he has been a fixture at GW for more than 25 years. Although Maltzman has only served as provost since 2016, he has held administrative positions and it is important that his work is evaluated as well.
However, most administrators are detached from the student population, which makes it difficult for students to appropriately review them. While many students can name and identify the president of the University, the same cannot be said for the provost. Not only would students have difficulty picking out Maltzman from a crowd, but they would have trouble naming his responsibilities and are therefore unprepared to evaluate the provost’s work in the community review he will undergo this year.
In Maltzman’s role, he is in charge of overseeing academics in all of GW’s 10 schools, which means he has more responsibility than many students realize. The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is struggling with limited funds for expensive renovations, a drop in undergraduate enrollment and faculty contract disputes and that is just a few of the issues at a single school under Maltzman’s purview.
LeBlanc has faced his fair share of challenges to address during his short time at the University. At the start of his term, his $500,000 inauguration prompted criticism from the student body. After a racist incident shook campus last year, LeBlanc needed to respond and implemented a mandatory diversity training for all incoming students, but some students have argued that the University’s efforts regarding diversity training and maintaining a diverse faculty are not enough.
Taking student feedback as part of the review is crucial because it is the job of leaders to serve students, but not all students are in tune with the exact job description of the president and provost so this should be taken into account. This review gives an opportunity for students to better understand how the University is run and who is in charge of problems they want to be addressed. The University should seek out a diverse group of students to weigh in on the University’s leadership, because GW is not just made up of the leaders of student organizations who are often tapped to represent the entire student body.
When the review is complete, the University must act on the information it receives. Conducting a survey on how your leadership is operating is great, but it is useless without a public announcement of the findings. Otherwise, it is easy for officials to push the results aside rather than make changes to solve the problems that are found.
The review should provide a long-term blueprint for how LeBlanc and Maltzman can address the biggest student concerns on campus. Students and faculty have long complained about the transactional culture at the University, so this community review is a good first step in addressing that sentiment and will make the University feel less bureaucratic, but there is more to be done.
Having in-depth reviews of the provost and the president at least every three years is a great step for the University, but it requires transparency for the process to spark meaningful change. LeBlanc and Maltzman shouldn’t just be reviewed by students and faculty, but they should be held accountable by students and faculty. Collecting feedback and releasing the results publicly will secure the ultimate goal of the review: to ensure that current administrators are doing their job of serving students to the best of their ability.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Renee Pineda and contributing opinions editor Kiran Hoeffner-Shah based on conversations with The Hatchet’s editorial board, which is composed of managing editor Matt Cullen, contributing social media director Zach Slotkin, managing director Elise Zaidi, sports editor Barbara Alberts and culture editor Lindsay Paulen.