Media credit: File photo by Jack Fonseca | Senior staff photographer
The shared board report comes after board chair Grace Speights said in an email to the faculty earlier this year that she was troubled by some who did more to “foster discord” than contribute to civilized conversation.
Faculty senators will discuss a report this Friday on shared governance and transparency behind the university’s updates on GW’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at their first in-person meeting since March 2020.
The meeting comes after a summer of administrative news — such as the announcement that university president Thomas LeBlanc would be stepping down — and an evacuation of nearly 200 students from Townhouse Row for a week into the fall semester due to construction conditions conducive to “biological growth.”
This is what to expect on Friday, based on the encounters agenda and what we know so far:
HVAC Upgrades and Transparency
A group of faculty senators last week filed a resolution expressing concerns about the timeline for the university’s HVAC system upgrades — which officials say would be completed by the end of this week. For the past year, officials have been working on HVAC renovations to bring buildings in line with reopening guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers, but senators said officials had “misinformation” used in a statement earlier this summer outlining officials’ progress with the updates.
The pronunciation issued in June indicated officials were completing HVAC upgrades, but officials released a second update last month, saying officials hadn’t provided enough context about the renovations, still a “work in progress.”
The proposed Senate resolution calls on officials to release to the Senate all “reports, recommendations, and technical analysis” relevant to the alignment of campus buildings with CDC and ASHRAE guidelines, and urges the university for a list of campus buildings with their corresponding level of alignment with official guidelines for the GW community.
The resolution also discourages officials from marking the reports as confidential in the interest of transparency, and recommends that they “describe comprehensively” all their actions to bring campus buildings in line with CDC and ASHRAE guidelines.
Shared Board Report
The Senate also included a “shared governance report” as an agenda item, outlining examples where shared governance between faculty and administrators at GW was successful and unsuccessful, along with suggestions for improving it.
The chair of the board, Grace Speights, sent an email to the faculty in May, saying she was “concerned” by some professors whose contributions have done more to “foster discord” than contribute. to civil dialogue after LeBlanc announced he would step down at the end of this academic year. Speights said the board would begin a faculty review Code to assess “appropriate avenues” for input from faculty given these concerns.
“Successful shared governance relies on constructive engagement – something I feel has been lacking in the past year,” she said in the email. “I am concerned about the actions of a faction of self-proclaimed faculty spokespersons whose contributions to this process resemble a campaign to foment discord rather than a civil dialogue.”
Officials have been quiet about their progress in the search for a president to replace LeBlanc, but the faculty has been working to develop an advisory committee of professors who will represent the faculty’s input during the search. Committee members may be elected to serve on the council’s presidential search committee.
Senators voted at their meeting in August on a resolution to expand the advisory committee to increase diversity within the group in areas such as rank, discipline, gender and race. They said the Senate executive committee would seek to finalize by August 27 a list of professors who would propose senators to serve on the advisory committee.
The Senate has not released any public updates on the slate, which the Faculty Assembly will eventually approve in a special meeting.