LeBlanc walks back enrollment comment, says he referenced ‘budget planning’ estimate

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

LeBlanc said at the meeting Friday that officials project "close to" $76 million in lost revenues associated with tuition and increased financial aid.

Updated: Sept. 22, 2020 at 4:32 p.m.

University President Thomas LeBlanc is walking back comments he made at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday about GW’s undergraduate enrollment.

LeBlanc and Provost Brian Blake said in an email to the GW community Tuesday that GW’s “total undergraduate enrollment” fell by 7.2 percent this year based on preliminary estimates, with 11,097 undergraduates enrolled on the first day of class as compared to 11,953 students at the same time last year. LeBlanc said at the meeting Friday that officials project “close to” $76 million in lost revenues associated with tuition and increased financial aid.

“Our undergraduate enrollment is about 1,000 students below our target of 10,126 students,” LeBlanc said at the meeting Friday. “Over 600 of these students are upperclass students who did not return in the fall. Among the new students, we had 175 international students who either were not able to enroll or chose not to enroll. And despite our aggressive use of the waitlist, we enrolled 220 fewer domestic undergraduate students as new students.”

But now LeBlanc says his reference to “undergraduate enrollment” was intended as “estimates for budget planning” and does not reflect “overall enrollment numbers.”

In the email Tuesday, LeBlanc and Blake said LeBlanc’s reference to “undergraduate enrollment” only included full-time, traditional undergraduate students on the Foggy Bottom Campus but left out non-traditional students, students in online programs before the pandemic and part-time students. LeBlanc did not make this distinction during the meeting.

“Media reports have mixed budget projections and official enrollment numbers and created an inaccurate impression of our enrollment, comparing our official, reported enrollment at last year’s October census to the budget target cited by President LeBlanc,” LeBlanc and Blake said in the email. “This is an apples to oranges comparison.”

University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said LeBlanc’s statement on Friday about the number of upperclassman who did not return this fall and the decrease in new domestic undergraduate students were based on preliminary data points from the first day of classes. The decrease in international students referred to a budget estimate based on the number of enrollment deposits in the summer, she said.

Nosal said Blake’s remarks later in the meeting about enrollment were based on data from the first day of classes.

“At the Faculty Senate meeting, President LeBlanc provided a high-level overview of the budget monitoring process and shared some enrollment related data points that have had an impact on FY21 budget,” Nosal said in an email. “Later in the meeting, Provost Blake shared the aggregate headcount enrollment data based on the first day of class registration counts.”

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