George Washington University will soon begin searching for a new president.
In an email to the campus community on Tuesday, President Thomas LeBlanc announced he will retire at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, in July 2022, and said he had told the Board of Trustees about his plans over the winter break.
“The course of my presidency was disrupted by the pandemic that had to become the priority over the last fourteen months,” he wrote. “The next fourteen months need to be largely focused on a transition to the ‘new normal’ and to completing some key initiatives,” such as addressing the new challenges of a post-pandemic campus.
LeBlanc took on the role back in 2017, after working at the University of Miami. And on Tuesday, the university’s independent student newspaper, the GW Hatchet, characterized his tenure at GW as “tumultuous” and reported that a faculty-wide survey found most had lost confidence in him.
LeBlanc apologized in February 2020 after making an insensitive racial comment regarding divestment in fossil fuels. There were calls for his resignation months later.
In a separate letter to the university community, Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights praised LeBlanc, saying he “navigated the challenges of a pandemic with a commitment to the safety and well-being of our campus community and worked to promote diversity and improve the student experience throughout his term.”
And as the board begins its nationwide search for LeBlanc’s replacement, Speights wrote, it “will focus on building on the university’s core strengths as a home for rigorous academic inquiry and student-focused learning in an increasingly complex and diverse world.”
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