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January 6, 2017 | Friday 
e-Veritas EXTRA

UM Provost Thomas LeBlanc to Become
President of The George Washington University

Thomas LeBlanc

Thomas J. LeBlanc, the energetic, gifted, and seasoned academic leader who brought a distinctive administrative style to the University of Miami in his role as executive vice president and provost for the past 12 years, will step down by August 1st to become president of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

As UM's executive vice president and provost, LeBlanc oversees 11 schools and colleges, research administration, academic and student affairs, admissions, research funding, and expenditures.

"Tom has been a great partner and friend throughout my presidency, starting from his service as interim president prior to my arrival. Although we will miss him, we are very proud of this new recognition of his accomplished career," said UM President Julio Frenk. "Given his outstanding record during his 12 years as UM provost, his appointment as president of a major university was an expected development. Tom is tenacious, rigorous, and gregarious, challenging us always to be our best selves, in the classroom, in the lab, and in the community. He has played a crucial role in developing the Roadmap to Our New Century, and I know he will remain focused on the work ahead of us during his remaining time on campus."

"What a great distinction for a great leader of the academy," said Richard D. Fain, chair of UM's Board of Trustees and chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "Tom has been dedicated, innovative, and energetic in his quest to make the University of Miami a pillar of academic and scholarly excellence. We congratulate him as he embarks on this next great challenge."

When LeBlanc arrived at UM in 2005 from the University of Rochester, where he served as vice provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty, he helped usher in a relentless march toward improvement across domains in academics, infrastructure, and research.

The quality of students at UM improved significantly during his tenure, with a mean standardized test score of 1325 (on an ACT/SAT concordance scale) and freshman retention rates well above 90 percent.

He helped transform the undergraduate curriculum at the University, playing a pivotal role in launching the Cognates Program of General Education, which allows students to explore the University's array of schools and colleges by choosing cognates—sets of at least three related courses—that tap into their individual interests and career goals.

LeBlanc, who holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and has published extensively in that field, was the chief architect of UM’s 10-year "Accelerating Ambition" strategic plan, which called for an investment of $2.75 billion in faculty, research infrastructure, graduate programs, undergraduate education, and facilities—areas that thrived under his watch. He helped build a budget that targeted increased funding for student aid, doubling the number of Hammond Scholars (first-generation and minority students) and enhancing graduate education, as well as expanding resources for intercollegiate athletics.

New centers and institutes opened during his tenure. The University of Miami's Center for Computational Science, for example, which brings enormous super-computing power to bear on many of the pressing problems of the 21st century and beyond, was conceived and funded by LeBlanc. He was instrumental in the creation of UM's Office of Civic and Community Engagement, which connects students, faculty, and community to promote positive social change in South Florida.

UM's infrastructure expanded considerably on all three campuses under LeBlanc, as the School of Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, School of Education and Human Development, Frost School of Music, School of Nursing and Health Studies, Miller School of Medicine, and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science all unveiled new building projects, as well as extensive renovation projects like the Cox Science Complex, new arts facility, and the historic preservation of the Campo Sano original administration building.

During LeBlanc's tenure as provost, UM also rose in the national rankings. In the 2017 issue of U.S. News & World Report's "America’s Best Colleges," the University is ranked 44th among national universities.

Research funding grew steadily under LeBlanc. This past fiscal year, funding for over 2,100 externally funded projects grew to $323.8 million in sponsored grants and contracts.

"The University of Miami has given me so much more than I could ever hope to repay, through the professional opportunities and close friendships developed over the past 12 years. My wife and I have grown to love the University, the city of Miami, and the wonderful people of South Florida," said LeBlanc. "As we look forward with excitement to the tremendous opportunity at George Washington University, we will leave with many fond memories, warm friendships, and pride in the progress that we have all forged together. Go 'Canes!"

President Frenk will consult with the Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees on the formation of a search committee to recruit LeBlanc's successor.

"Tom and Anne have been an integral part of the Miami Hurricanes family, and I know everyone will join me in expressing our gratitude and very best wishes for their new endeavors at George Washington University," said President Frenk.

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