Letter to the Mason Community – January 2013

What an exciting year was 2012! It is hard to believe how much has happened at George Mason University in the mere six months since I arrived. I am delighted with the progress we have made on a number of different fronts and very grateful for the assistance I have received from so many of you.

January 28, 2013

Dear Fellow Patriots,

As I look back over the past year, I can proudly say that much was accomplished at George Mason University in 2012, and the groundwork has been set for even more progress in 2013.

The Vision process that involves the entire university and our external stakeholders moved forward expeditiously and with great enthusiasm. A number of new hires and promotions put an excellent university senior leadership team in place. Alumni giving to the university reached an all-time high, and the university was recognized with several awards, as well.

Following are details on these items to date and plans for 2013.

A Vision for George Mason University

The Vision working groups have received input from more than 3,000 members of the Mason community and have compiled and synthesized the information that they have gathered. The Steering Committee is helping me integrate the outcomes of the various groups into one vision document. If you attended a town hall, took a survey, participated in a focus group, engaged in an appreciative inquiry event or emailed us directly about the future of George Mason, thank you! Your input has been integral to our work. In early February, I will post draft versions of the Vision document and the working group reports for your review and feedback. This work will form the foundation for our upcoming strategic planning. Please plan to continue your participation in this important effort and check regularly for updates.

Giving to Mason

University Development closed the 2012 calendar year with more than $45 million in gifts and pledges from more than 17,000 donors. The year’s highlights included a $5 million gift from real estate developer Gerald “Jerry” T. Halpin to the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation; a $1 million gift from former Board of Visitors rector Sid Dewberry and his wife, Reva, to the Volgenau School’s Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering Department; a significant gift from former faculty member Richard Fink to support the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies that will benefit undergraduate and graduate students, Mason faculty and research; and a $1 million gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation to support the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

The Campaign to Honor Alan and Sally Merten surpassed its $5 million goal that was announced during the 40th Anniversary Gala. Proceeds from the event helped to create the Merten Scholars Endowment, which will provide full-ride scholarships.

Fiscal year 2012, which closed on June 30, saw the largest number of alumni donors with 9,565 giving back to Mason. Among the leading alumni gifts were two endowments: Patricia Roberts, BS ’77, gave $500,000 to create the Robert D. Johnston Professorship of Finance; and Burton C. Gray Jr., BA ’95, endowed the Burton and Yardly Gray Debate Team fund with a $250,000 gift.

University Senior Leadership

Over the past six months, a number of new administrators have joined our leadership team and others have accepted new responsibilities. I thank everyone involved in the search committees and those who graciously adjusted their roles during this transition period.

To recap the changes:

  • Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis joins Mason as senior vice president for finance and administration on March 4.
  • Corey Jackson, formerly director of equity and diversity services and assistant to the president, is now vice president for compliance, diversity and ethics.
  • Paul Liberty moved from interim vice president for university relations to vice president for government and community relations.
  • Rose Pascarell became vice president for university life after serving in the position on an interim basis.
  • Renell Wynn joined Mason as vice president for communications and marketing.

Alliance for Work-Life Progress Work-Life Seal of Distinction

This year, WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress recognized Mason for the second consecutive year for “providing a wide variety of workplace policies, programs and practices that support employees across all major aspects of work-life integration.” Mason was evaluated in a range of work-life areas, including caring for dependents, health and wellness, workplace flexibility, leave and community involvement, among others.

Our faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees form the core of what makes Mason so special. Thank you for your contribution to Mason’s wonderfully supportive and collegial culture. I am so proud of our university’s commitment to be both a great place to learn and a great place to work.

Supplier Diversity Award

As validation of Mason’s continued efforts to support the Commonwealth’s small, women-owned, and minority-owned business (SWaM) initiative, the university received the Governor’s 2012 Supplier Diversity SWaM Achievement Award. The initiative’s purpose is to enhance procurement opportunities for SWaM businesses participating in state-funded projects. Mason’s Purchasing Office, through its diversity supplier program, has made concerted efforts to form strong links with diverse suppliers and support women and minority businesses with procurement and contracting opportunities.

What’s Ahead in 2013

Along with the excitement of our traditional yearly activities—Homecoming, International Week, Mason Day, and Commencement, to name a few—will come some new projects and special events to engage the university in 2013. As the Visioning process concludes, strategic planning will begin. Again, this will involve the entire university throughout the year.

Another activity in which everyone is invited to participate should provide opportunities for intellectual stimulation, as well as having fun. Traditionally, universities hold an inauguration ceremony for a new president, but in true Mason style, we will combine the traditional with the innovative. We plan to have several events leading up to the inauguration, which will be on Friday, April 26, Mason Day. The main goal of these events will be to let the world know about our new vision for the future and to gather as much support from external stakeholders as possible. You’ll soon be hearing more about this.

In the meantime, I want to thank you for all you do to deliver on our mission and make Mason the unique place it is. I wish you the best for a successful spring semester. Go forth, Patriots!