President's Blog

University of strivers

The current admissions scandal (see Frank Bruni’s take in the New York Times, for example) sheds a light on a sinister side of today’s higher education: the widespread definition of success by how many students a university chooses not to serve, the corresponding obsession by the rich and famous to do whatever it takes to gain access to the status and privilege of the highly selective institution, and the resulting threat to the social-equalizing mission of higher ed, that rather than compensate for social inequalities of opportunity ends up contributing to their perpetuation.

Silver lining of the scandal: It will hopefully help highlight the work of universities like ours that are not willing to choose between academic excellence and inclusion but are committed to doing both: to providing access to excellence, to measuring our success by how many people we help grow, while at the same time contributing to scientific progress and economic vibrancy on par with the leading research universities in the country.

We appreciate that press at home and abroad have taken notice of these efforts. A Washington Post columnist recently referred to Mason as a “university of strivers.”

El País cited Mason as a university for “young people who truly want to learn.”

An April 9 article in Forbes, “Creating Good from the Admissions Scandal,” pointed out that some colleges and universities are doing more to serve first-generation students. “Best example,” the article stated, “tight collaboration between Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and nearby George Mason University. Thousands of NOVA students get tracked quickly into Mason and stay on track to earn bachelor’s degrees in four years.”

We proudly embrace these descriptions of Mason. Each captures the essence of our university.