Student Association President Howard Brookins signed an executive order Monday calling on University President Thomas LeBlanc to resign.
The order cites some of LeBlanc’s most prominent decisions, including recent budget cuts implemented to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University, as reasons that LeBlanc should resign. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students have signed various petitions and statements in recent weeks also calling for LeBlanc’s resignation.
“President LeBlanc must resign or be removed from his position immediately,” the order states.
Brookins cited GW’s fundraising levels, including the University’s low alumni giving rate compared to its peer institutions, as a piece of evidence that LeBlanc has “failed” in the goals he was hired to achieve. Officials plan to launch a major fundraising campaign next year in conjunction with GW’s bicentennial.
The order also cites LeBlanc’s hiring of Heather Swain, who withdrew her offer as GW’s new vice president for communications and marketing last month after widespread criticism in light of her involvement in a sexual assault case during her time at Michigan State University. LeBlanc has since apologized for the hiring but has declined to publicly reveal details of the hiring process.
Brookins also noted LeBlanc’s racially insensitive analogy in February during a conversation about fossil fuel divestment with a student. He condemned LeBlanc’s oversight of a planned 20 percent reduction in the undergraduate population and of the strategic planning process, which were paused amid the pandemic.
“This will inevitably result in a student population that is higher income and more White,” the order states.
The order also criticizes recent layoffs and a planned suspension of GW’s base and matching retirement contributions for employees.
The order marks the first time an SA president has called on the University’s president to resign in recent memory.
Brookins also called for the Board of Trustees to add student, staff and faculty voting members. Board Chair Grace Speights said in April that she did not plan to add a student voting member after 93.7 percent of voters in the SA elections earlier this calendar year supported the change.
He also called for a new University president to be chosen by a selection committee that includes students, faculty and staff members involved from “the very beginning.”
“A democratic replacement process for President LeBlanc and shared governance in the Board of Trustees will improve transparency and empower students, faculty and staff to forge a more equitable University,” the order states.
Attached to the executive order is a link to a pledge for students, faculty, staff and alumni to sign, stating they will not donate to the University “in any form whatsoever” until LeBlanc is replaced and “shared governance is implemented in the Board.”
LeBlanc did not immediately return a request for comment.
This article appeared in the September 24, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.