Provost says interim Elliott School dean will ‘adhere to all’ University policies

Media Credit: File Photo by Jack Fonseca | Senior Staff Photographer

Provost Brian Blake said the University prioritizes the "safety and security" of everyone in the GW community.

Provost Brian Blake said Monday officials have “heard” and “listened” to concerns about the appointment of Ilana Feldman as interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs.

GW for Israel and GW Hillel released statements last week criticizing Feldman, who has served as the Elliott School’s vice dean, for her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a nonviolent movement aimed at pressuring Israel to evacuate Palestinian territories. Blake said in a statement that GW does not “support divestment or other actions called for by BDS,” and Feldman has and will adhere to all of the University’s policies, including those regarding freedom of expression.

“While the University supports academic freedom for all, members of the administration – including those in an acting or interim capacity – are required to comply with all University policies or actions, including those on BDS, and foster an atmosphere that allows all voices to be equally heard,” Blake said in the statement.

GW for Israel also started a petition, which has accumulated more than 2,600 signatures as of Wednesday, urging officials to reconsider Feldman’s appointment.

J Street U at GW released a statement last week stating the group does not endorse the BDS movement, but its members support Feldman’s appointment in light of the “necessity” of open dialogue.

Blake said the University prioritizes the “safety and security” of everyone in the GW community.

“We do not tolerate discrimination in any form, including anti-Semitism and racism,” Blake said. “We believe in an inclusive and robust community that respects all points of view. These values are intrinsic to the GW community.”

After the Student Association Senate passed a resolution in April 2018 calling on officials to divest from certain companies that conduct business with Israel, University President Thomas LeBlanc said the resolution “does not represent” the University’s views, and GW will “not implement” such a proposal.

Blake added that a search has begun for a permanent dean of the Elliott School.

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