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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Coast to coast: Granberg sets off on national tour to attract alumni, donors

GW is entering its Granberg era, and it’s starting on tour.
University+President+Ellen+Granberg+will+visit+10+U.S.+cities+as+a+part+of+GW+Together%2C+where+she+will+garner+thoughts+on+the+University%E2%80%99s+strengths+and+challenges+from+alumni%2C+students%2C+faculty%2C+staff+and+other+%E2%80%9Cfriends%E2%80%9D+of+GW.
University President Ellen Granberg will visit 10 U.S. cities as a part of GW Together, where she will garner thoughts on the University’s strengths and challenges from alumni, students, faculty, staff and other “friends” of GW.

University President Ellen Granberg is embarking on a transcontinental tour to speak with alumni and donors three months into her tenure.

Starting this week, Granberg will visit 10 U.S. cities between September and March to meet with alumni and GW community members as part of GW Together, an initiative to leverage the GW community’s ideas for forming goals for the University’s future. University spokesperson Julia Metjian said GW Together is Granberg’s “listening campaign” so she can garner thoughts on the University’s strengths and challenges from alumni, students, faculty, staff and other “friends” of GW.

“All members of the GW community are encouraged to share their thoughts on the President’s website through photos or video, audio or written messages,” Metjian said in an email. “Input from our community will be valuable and important to informing the President’s approach to the future of GW.”

GW has lacked a strategic plan since 2020, when officials labeled former University President Thomas LeBlanc’s plan “obsolete” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics of LeBlanc’s plan said it left out the wider GW community, accusing it of not adhering to principles of collaboration or shared governance. In the 2022 Presidential Profile, a document listing the desired qualities of GW’s next president, officials said they are looking for someone who will collaborate with all constituencies to develop a strategic plan.

Granberg, who began her term July 1, will begin the tour in Philadelphia on Tuesday before visiting Denver; Chicago; New York City; Miami; Palm Beach, Florida; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Seattle. She will also hold a “Presidential Conversation” in the University Student Center during Alumni and Families Weekend on Sept. 30. Metjian declined to comment on the cost of the trips.

An Ngo | Graphics Editor

Chairs of regional alumni networks said the trips, which are tailored toward committees of donors and alumni, will motivate attendees to engage with the University through “face time” with Granberg, leading to more donations and volunteering from alumni.

George Urch, a co-chair of the Los Angeles-Orange County alumni network, said he is “very excited” that Granberg is visiting Los Angeles early next year because her appearance will continue strengthening alumni engagement as the network works to rebuild their activity to pre-pandemic levels. He said past University presidents, including Mark Wrighton, Steven Knapp and Stephen Joel Trachtenberg had visited Los Angeles during their tenures.

Trachtenberg embarked on a yearlong international tour at the end of his term in 2006 to say goodbye to alumni, gather ideas for the University’s future and collect financial contributions from donors in cities like Boston, San Diego and London. Trachtenberg also visited the Middle East and China during his term to cultivate relationships with university leaders around the world, recruit international students and fundraise. Knapp traveled internationally in 2017 to Mexico City and the Middle East to gather donations toward the University’s $1 billion fundraising campaign during his term.

Urch said he hopes that Granberg’s visit to Los Angeles will draw her attention to the prospective students in California who are interested in East Coast universities. He added that he hopes the Office of Undergraduate Admissions will put “more effort” into recruiting students and athletes from California because acceptance rates for West Coast universities, like the University of California-Los Angeles, are decreasing, and students are looking to attend out-of-state schools.

In 2022, 767 undergraduate students from California attended GW — the fourth most common state of origin for undergraduate students behind New York, Virginia and New Jersey, according to GW’s enrollment dashboard.

“Stepping up our presence here on the admissions side would definitely reap great benefits for the University,” Urch said.

He said uniting alumni at events like GW Together increases the chances of them donating to the University because reconnecting with their peers brings back “positive” memories of their time at GW. He added that alumni donations benefit GW’s prestige because university rankings like U.S. News & World Report take the percentage of alumni donors into account in their scores.

Urch said he hopes Granberg will have a long tenure at GW because of her “excellent credentials.” He said former University presidents like LeBlanc, who served for four years, did not have as long a tenure compared to past university presidents like Trachtenberg, who served for 19 years, and alumni were “disappointed” that their short tenure contributed to discontinuity in the University’s priorities.

“I don’t know if people are viewing GW as a stepping stone instead of a destination location if you’re wanting to be a president of a university, but we’re hoping that Mrs. Granberg, this is her destination, and she’ll be around for a while,” Urch said.

Amanda Leslie, the Philadelphia alumni network chair, said she and other volunteers will work at the registration table and greet guests at the reception Tuesday.

A “Presidential Host Committee” will accompany Granberg at the Philadelphia Presidential Reception at the National Constitution Center, which includes alumni like Pennsylvania State Rep. Anthony Bellmon (D), GW Alumni Association President Maxwell Gocala-Nguyen and Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights.

She said attendees can share their feedback on their experience at GW with Granberg at the event, which she hopes guides Granberg’s actions during her presidency.

“She’s going to share her vision, and I like the idea that we’re also able to share our vision, and she takes those things into consideration,” Leslie said.

She said Philadelphia has a large and active alumni community because of its proximity to D.C. and that the GW Together event will create a “symbiotic” relationship with the University because alumni will connect with the administration in person.

“There’s a lot of people here that are invested in GW maintaining a great University and becoming an even better University,” Leslie said.

Jessica Leong, a co-chair of the Los Angeles-Orange County alumni network, said visits from University leaders like Granberg are special for the more than 7,000 alumni in the Southern California area because they reinforce a sense of connection with the University despite being more than 2,000 miles away from the Foggy Bottom campus.

She said when Granberg visits Los Angeles next year, she’d like to emphasize leveraging GW’s location as a hub for numerous industries, including business, engineering and politics.

“I think it’s great that they’re really uniting the communities across the country and reinforcing how special GW is,” Leong said. “I’m really looking forward to hearing what she has to say, what updates she’s bringing from campus and her vision for the University.”

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About the Contributor
Ianne Salvosa, News Editor
Ianne Salvosa is a junior majoring in journalism and international affairs from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editor for the Administration and Finance beat. She previously served as an assistant news editor for the Administration and Finance beat and a contributing news editor for the Academics and Administration beats for Vol. 119.
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