Officials ‘won’t be able’ to avoid layoffs after weeks of consideration, LeBlanc says

Media Credit: File Photo by Ari Golub | Staff Photographer

LeBlanc said officials will use guidelines released by the Board of Trustees last month to make further financial decisions and will not dip into the University's endowment.

University President Thomas LeBlanc said administrators are unable to avoid layoffs “any longer” after officials floated the idea for weeks.

LeBlanc sent an email Thursday to Faculty Association President Andrew Zimmerman, a professor of history and international affairs, saying that GW’s expected revenue shortfalls this coming academic year, projected to range between roughly $80 million and $320 million, necessitate layoffs. Officials will also use guidelines released by the Board of Trustees last month – which include prioritizing health and safety and “prudent” cash management – to make further financial decisions and will not dip into the University’s endowment, he said.

“These are very difficult days for our country and all of higher education,” LeBlanc said in the email. “I hope we can all pull together to offer the best possible educational experience to our students, maintain our core mission of teaching and research and position GW for greater things in the future once this pandemic has passed.”

LeBlanc and other top officials will take a pay cut starting July 1 and freeze all merit salary increases for faculty in staff. Administrators suspended most capital projects and hiring in late March to reduce fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution late last month requesting that layoffs and furloughs only be used as a “last resort.”

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said more information about forthcoming financial decisions will be shared in the “coming weeks.”

“As President LeBlanc indicated in a message to the GW community on May 11, like other universities, we face difficult decisions as we work to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of our University while continuing to achieve GW’s core mission of academics and research,” Nosal said in an email. “University leaders are in the process of determining the path forward, including personnel decisions.”

Nosal declined to confirm that officials plan to implement layoffs. She declined to say if any employees have been laid off as a result of the pandemic thus far and if so, how many employees will be laid off.

She also declined to say how officials will decide which employees will be laid off.

The Faculty Association’s steering committee forwarded LeBlanc’s message to its members, asking them to take “personal action” to resist layoffs. The group encouraged faculty to share their views on layoffs with their colleagues and refuse to “take up any slack” created by layoffs.

“Each of us has a different level of power within the University: some of us have become deans, many of us are chairs and program directors and we are at every rank of full-time regular faculty,” association leaders said in the email. “Most layoffs will require some kind of faculty participation to carry out, and we ask each of you to challenge your comfort level to refuse and resist these layoffs.”

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