‘Making George Proud,’ LeBlanc Inaugurated as 17th GW President

Dr. LeBlanc during inauguration
“We can do anything we choose. But we can’t do everything we choose. And so let us choose boldly but also choose wisely," Dr. LeBlanc said during his inaugural address on November 13 at the Smith Center. (William Atkins/GW Today)
December 20, 2017

“At GW, we will have a clear purpose: We will choose to lead,” said GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc during his inaugural address on November 13. His speech rallied the university around this shared purpose with his words striking a balance between reflecting on a historic institution, and aspiring for what the university community will achieve under his leadership.

Since its founding, the University has worked to honor the vision of its namesake and nearly 200 years later GW stands proudly among the nation’s oldest and most enduring institutions of higher education.

As he looked forward and shared ideas about the future of GW, LeBlanc also reflected on George Washington’s vision for a national university. He wanted to educate American leaders here, not in Europe, so that they would lead and advance the cause of what was the young American republic and prepare students for the world they saw emerging, where democratic values, equality and freedom would shape life.

Preparing students for the emerging world is as important today as when the university was founded almost two hundred years ago. The university will choose to lead, Dr. LeBlanc said, in scholarship as a comprehensive and global institution that strives for excellence and preeminence in everything it does.

Being grounded in scholarship means supporting all disciplines in the pursuit of not only imparting knowledge but also creating it, shaping the learning that happens here.

Comprehensiveness means offering a full range of excellent programs, from the arts and humanities to the sciences, social sciences, business, law, public policy, engineering, medicine and health.

Global means engaging the world and bringing faculty and students who come from “everywhere” and go on to study or take what they have learned at GW “anywhere.”

And preeminence means being the best—attracting faculty and students who excel in their fields or their class—but it also means being diverse, because “the advancement of knowledge requires the challenges that difference brings.”

Honoring tradition, the official inauguration ceremony had all the pomp and circumstance befitting the occasion. Many attendees donned regalia and marched as part of an academic procession to open and close the ceremony. The Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell delivered the charge to the president and conferred upon him the president’s medallion, the official symbol of his GW presidency.

The ceremony was well attended by former GW Presidents Steven Knapp and Stephen Trachtenberg, members of Dr. LeBlanc’s family—including his wife, Anne, and mother, trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni, as well as representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities.

“No matter where you were born, the color of your skin, which language you spoke as a child, how you live, who you love, how you vote, or how you pray—you are welcome to make your mark here at GW,” Dr. LeBlanc said. “We ask only one thing in return: You strive for greatness and to bring distinction to this wonderful university.”

Read GW Today’s story on the Inauguration

Read Dr. LeBlanc's full speech.

Watch the full video of the ceremony.

Watch video highlights of the inauguration activities.