Anuj Mehrotra, the dean of the School of Business, interviewed University President Thomas LeBlanc about leadership and the importance of alumni at a discussion event Monday.
The event was the inaugural installment of George Talks Business, a new series of 30-minute interviews with alumni and “thought leaders” in business, government and nonprofits, according to the business school website. Approximately 100 students, faculty and alumni gathered in Funger Hall to hear LeBlanc’s remarks and answers to audience-submitted questions.
Dan Michaelis, the senior associate director of media relations and communications for the business school, said the new series is the brainchild of Mehrotra’s office and aims to bring business school students, alumni, faculty and staff together.
At the event, LeBlanc stressed the importance of empathy and transparency for effective university leaders. He said he practices both qualities by regularly meeting with students and listening to their feedback, both positive and negative.
“Universities attract people from all different parts of the world and from all different backgrounds and experiences,” he said. “If you don’t have empathy, you won’t be able to connect with the students, with the faculty, and you won’t be able to connect with different kinds of disciplines.”
LeBlanc also touched on the growing influence of data science across all disciplines, encouraging students of all majors to familiarize themselves with computer programming.
“Whatever your field is, data is becoming more and more the differentiator between information and knowledge and people who are trafficking in anecdote and rumor,” he said. “We want to make sure our students are trained to be the ones dealing with facts and information.”
LeBlanc then discussed alumni relations, saying that a strong alumni network betters the University as a whole. He said alumni interested in helping the University community could help GW find great students, employ more students at their companies, recommend GW to their community and join the University’s advisory councils.
When asked what makes GW special, LeBlanc said the University’s location in the nation’s capital attracts a variety of students and bolsters the school’s national reputation.
“Washington, D.C. is an incredible city,” he said. “Our students come here to change the world.”