A slim majority of faculty respondents indicated they don’t have confidence in University President Thomas LeBlanc in a survey sent to full-time faculty, the widest measure of faculty sentiment toward LeBlanc to date months after hundreds called for his resignation.
Five hundred sixty-four professors – about 52 percent of respondents excluding those who said they did not have enough knowledge to answer the question – indicated they “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with the statement that they feel confident in LeBlanc’s effectiveness as a leader, according to the results, obtained by The Hatchet. A majority of respondents said LeBlanc does not promote a culture of trust, make a “genuine effort” to listen to faculty and staff concerns during major decision-making or adhere to principles of shared governance.
The survey, which had been conducted over the past two months, was sent to 1,781 faculty, and a total of 1,202 full-time faculty responded to the survey, according to the results.
Faculty were asked if they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with 32 statements related to LeBlanc’s leadership and campus climate or to indicate a neutral position. Faculty could also indicate they did not have enough experience or knowledge to answer the question, and those responses were not included in the tabulated results.
A group of four faculty senators managing the survey – who did not return multiple requests for comment – distributed the quantitative results to all full-time faculty shortly after 10 p.m. Monday, and faculty were instructed to not download, print or share the results.
“We believe that qualitative data will be useful in interpreting the quantitative data,” the results state. “However, today we are releasing the quantitative data only. We are analyzing the qualitative comments and deciding the best format to use to share the qualitative with the community.”
LeBlanc did not immediately return a request for comment through a spokesperson.
About 11 percent of respondents – 121 professors – said they “strongly agree” while 16 percent said they “agree” that they have confidence in LeBlanc’s effectiveness as a leader. Forty professors said they did not have enough experience or knowledge to answer the question.
A strong majority of respondents praised administrators’ commitment to health and safety, which LeBlanc has said is his top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, but criticized a lack of shared governance. About 51 percent of respondents said they are not satisfied with LeBlanc’s overall performance.
About 77 percent of respondents said they “strongly agree” or “agree” that GW’s leadership has “consistently prioritized” their health and safety during the pandemic. A majority of respondents also said they are valued at work and are given a “fair chance” to express their voice about matters at the University that concern them, and about 64 percent said they felt proud to be at GW.
But more than 60 percent of respondents said LeBlanc does not make a “genuine effort” to listen to faculty and staff before making major decisions, while about 54 percent of respondents said GW leadership does not communicate “openly and honestly” with faculty and staff. About 61 percent of respondents said LeBlanc personally is not transparent in his decisions and actions.
The Faculty Senate criticized administrators last year for a lack of shared governance in developing the 20/30 Plan, which fueled tensions that became further inflamed by the pandemic.
The tensions extended for months over officials’ enrollment strategy and top decision-making prior to and during the pandemic.
The Faculty Assembly approved the survey in November following a monthslong deliberation about whether to censure LeBlanc or even take a formal no-confidence vote as hundreds of members of the GW community signed petitions and statements calling for LeBlanc’s resignation.
As tensions have grown, the Board of Trustees has voiced strong support for LeBlanc. The Board is set to decide whether or not to extend LeBlanc’s contract later this year, which will occur after their own routine review of LeBlanc’s performance.
“The Board of Trustees commends President LeBlanc and his leadership team for the great work they continue to do to secure the University’s future,” the Board said in an email Tuesday.
The Board said it will hire an independent firm during the review, which will provide trustees with a summary and analysis of feedback from the University community to ensure a “fair and comprehensive” evaluation.
“We look forward to receiving input from the full GW community during the upcoming formal evaluation process,” the Board said.
This article appeared in the February 25, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.