President's Blog

Solving complex policy problems: A new school built on existing strength

After months of consultation with the provost, the faculty and members of the administration, I decided to bring to the Board of Visitors in May a proposal to merge the School of Public Policy and the Department of Public and International Affairs into a new School of Policy, Government and International Affairs.

This is a great opportunity for George Mason University. By combining two already strong units, we have a chance to build what could be the largest school of its kind and become a leader on disciplines that are critical to our region and to the communities we serve.

Here are some preliminary estimates of the strength of the new school:

  • 2,750 students (1,000 undergraduates, 1,500 Master’s, 250 doctoral)
  • 100 faculty members
  • 12 degree programs delivered in Arlington and Farifax
  • Over 13,000 alumni
  • 20 research centers (among them State and Local Government, Regional Analysis, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Transportation Policy, National Security and Intelligence, Emerging Markets, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption)
  • Deep engagement with the policymaking and multilateral organization community through policy briefings, professional and executive education, media programing, candidate forums, community lectures, etc.

Lots of people have worked very hard to bring the proposal to this stage, including the leadership of both units, the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and our provost.  Thanks to all for their leadership and their willingness to selflessly and creatively think in the best interest of the university and our students. I am particularly grateful to the faculties of both units, who, after vigorous debate, voted in favor of the merger by considerable majorities.

Many issues remain to be worked out over the coming weeks and months, but the new school will immediately create exciting new opportunities for our students and our faculty.  Our students will have access to a greater array of undergraduate and graduate offerings and will benefit from easier access to broader faculty expertise.   Our faculty, too, will benefit from new collaborative possibilities and will gain in visibility and impact.  Very importantly, the new school will amplify our efforts to help solve some of the most complex problems of our time.

Mason’s commitment to serving professionals and leaders of organizations that develop and implement public policy at local, national and international levels constitutes one of the university’s oldest priorities.  It is also at the center of our current strategic focus on “multidisciplinary domains of great societal and economic consequence where we can make a difference.”  The creation of the new School of Policy, Government and International Affairs both reaffirms and enhances that priority.

I appreciate everyone’s hard work and look forward to reporting back on the progress of this merger in the coming months.