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Diaz to depart University in late June after managing GW’s finances through pandemic

File Photo by Sophia Young | Assistant Photo Editor
Mark Diaz, the executive vice president and chief financial officer, said GW’s planned enrollment cut next year will not affect its roughly $2 billion debt.

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz will leave the University at the end of June, according to an email sent to GW community members Tuesday.

Diaz, the University’s highest-ranking financial officer, oversaw GW’s finances through the COVID-19 pandemic – when officials laid off hundreds of staff, stopped most new hirings and froze all employee salaries – and spearheaded initiatives like the implementation of U-Pass and the launch of on-campus dining halls. Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said in the email that Diaz feels he “accomplished what he set out to do” at GW while guiding GW’s academic and professional development over the last few years.

“This was no easy task and required prudent cash and organizational management,” Speights said. “Along with his fiscal responsibilities, Mark also made the safety and security of our campus community a top priority as well as played a significant role in enhancing the student experience.”

Diaz succeeded Lou Katz, the former CFO who served at GW for 27 years, in 2018 after following former University President Thomas LeBlanc from a senior budgeting position at the University of Miami.

Speights said Diaz played a leading role in the University’s recent decision to sell its 20 percent stake in the GW Hospital to United Health Services and reconfigure GW’s academic medical enterprise.

“This new partnership allows us to evolve into a preeminent, market-leading academic medical center delivering exceptional clinical care, cutting-edge basic through translational research and state-of-the-art medical education,” Speights said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that if Mark wasn’t at the forefront of this effort it would not have happened.”

Diaz faced criticism from faculty senators earlier this year for his alleged involvement in a University project that tracked students, faculty and staff members’ movement on campus through their WiFi access. GWIT and the University’s data privacy and ethics office – which was launched in February 2019 – both fall under the purview of Diaz.

“If you asked me as someone who’s been actively involved in the IT effort for over 40 years at GW, this really started with the decision to shift academic IT out from under the provost and over to the shop of the CFO,” Phil Wirtz, a faculty senator and former chair of the senate’s education policy and technology committee, said at a Faculty Senate meeting in February.

Faculty members also expressed “overwhelmingly negative” views of GW administrators in a survey released in April 2021, in which Diaz was mentioned 62 times in the qualitative comments section. Diaz – along with other senior administrators – was never mentioned in a “positive light,” according to the faculty group that managed the survey.

Diaz joins Vice President of Student Affairs and the Dean of Students Cissy Petty as the second high-profile administrator to announce their departure this month.

“He worked tirelessly to solve very challenging issues facing this great University,” Speights said.

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