On April 13, the George Mason University Alumni Association recognized its most prestigious alumni at an elegant dinner in the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel.
During the course of the evening, Mason President Alan G. Merten took a few minutes to address the group about his upcoming retirement in June 2012 and reiterate his belief that without alumni support Mason can only be a good university. With alumni support and engagement, he believes Mason can be a great university and he thanked the alumni for their continuing commitment to their alma mater.
For a look at the biographies of those honored that night, please take a look at the full program available online. The top five award winners are profiled below.
Anne K. Altman, Alumna of the Year
By Colleen Kearney Rich, MFA ’95
When you look at the career accomplishments of Anne K. Altman, BS Marketing ’82, you are surprised to realize she did it all while working for one company. Altman began working for IBM in 1981 while still an undergraduate at Mason. Today, she is the general manager of IBM Global Public Sector, giving her responsibility for the company’s strategy, development of solutions, and sales for federal, state, and local government, education, and health care clients.
“I’m a rarity in the business world these days, having spent an entire career with IBM, from the day I walked out of George Mason to this very day,” she says.
Altman also credits one of her business professors, Lyle Rishell, as being a key influence on her and her decision to join IBM. “He challenged me, [and] he encouraged me,” she says of Rishell. “Looking back, that mentoring relationship had a significant impact on my college experience and my attachment to Mason.”
Altman always knew she had a passion for business. In fact, she left the liberal arts college she attended as a freshman so that she could major in business in what was then the Department of Business Administration at Mason.
“I was intrigued by what I saw at Mason,” she says of the decision. “It was growing quickly and had a business program. It also was gaining a reputation as a school on the move.”
After 30 years in the information technology industry, Altman has built quite a reputation of her own. She is recognized as a government thought leader who has testified before Congress on issues ranging from e-government to national security, and she has been featured in such media outlets as the Washington Post, Associated Press, Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology, Government Computer News, and Information Week.
Federal Computer Week’s Top Federal 100 and Eagle Award, the AFFIRM Leadership Award, and the CIO Council’s Azimuth Award for the Industry Executive of the Year are among the recognitions she has received.
The business insights Altman gained at Mason have played a key role in her successful leadership of a large global team of technology, research, and consulting services practitioners who are bringing to life IBM’s internationally recognized Smarter Planet campaign. = She is credited with helping re-establish IBM’s footprint in the federal market, and her public sector unit has consistently been called out by analysts and journalists as one of the strongest business drivers for the IBM corporation.
Over the course of her career, Altman has had the opportunity to sit on a number of boards, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kidney Foundation, and the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association’s Executive Committee. In 2006, she was appointed to Mason’s Board of Visitors by then-Gov. Tim Kaine. That experience helped renew her faith in and commitment to the university.
“Sometimes when you sit on a board, you see parts of an institution that are perhaps best left undiscovered. You [can] unearth weaknesses, poor governance, or infighting,” she says. “At Mason, the culture of action and collaboration aren’t just words. What I experienced were leaders who collaborate, who respect differences, and who operate with integrity.”
On being named 2011 Alumna of the Year, Altman said, “I am so grateful to George Mason University for the important role it has played in my life. At Mason, I found a supportive community and met students with whom I shared a lot—we worked hard in school, and we were keen to leverage the opportunities that the Washington region presented.”
Bob and Kaylene Green, Alumni Service Award
By Corey Jenkins Schaut, MPA ’07
Bob Green, BS Elementary Education ’76, and Kaylene Green, BS Accounting ’87, remember the days when George Mason University classes were held in borrowed high school classrooms and the four original campus buildings. The university’s evolution to what it is today has motivated the couple to give back to their alma mater, earning them the 2011 Alumni Service Award.
“When you see the university growing and becoming a community, you find yourself wanting to become a part of it,” says Bob. “We really have enjoyed watching it grow and doing what we can to contribute.”
Both Greens attended Mason to further their career ambitions. Kaylene worked full time while earning her degree, and Bob was pursuing a career change. After graduation, he taught briefly in an elementary school prior to joining the Department of the Navy, where he worked for more than 25 years before retiring in 2003. Kaylene has built a career in government relations, including cofounding the firm Flagship Government Relations in 2009.
Having watched the burgeoning Mason community over the years, the Greens were inspired to contribute their time and financial support during the university’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign. Kaylene joined the campaign’s Alumni Steering Committee in 2002, and the couple began coming to campus more frequently.
“It was just incredible to see what Mason has become,” says Kaylene. “Particularly with the dorms and campus life, it has really become a full-fledged, full-service university.”
Kaylene remains an active volunteer leader at Mason, serving on the School of Management Advisory Board. Last year, the pair also became the founding investors in the School of Management’s Dean’s Investment Fund. Kaylene says she and Bob were inspired by Dean Jorge Haddock’s vision for the school and realized that they too could make an impact.
“It seemed like an opportunity to make a difference at Mason,” Kaylene says. “It made us feel good to be able to make the gift, and we certainly hope others will follow.”
The award for their service to the university was a nice surprise for the couple.
“I still look at what we’re doing as fairly modest compared with what I know so many other people have done,” says Kaylene. “To have the university feel that it’s worth distinction is very nice.”
“Having reached a point now where I’m retired, I don’t get many honors anymore,” Bob joked. “I do appreciate it.”
For the Greens, seeing the next generation reap the rewards of a Mason education is another benefit of their continued connection with their alma mater. Bob’s grandson is a student at the university, Kaylene’s niece is an alumna, and Kaylene’s former assistant is a part-time MBA student.
Don Boileau, Faculty Member of the Year
By Jason Jacks
As a veteran professor, Don Boileau could focus solely on mentoring graduate students and pursuing his own research interests. But not one to forget his own undergraduate days, Boileau chooses instead to dedicate his energy on those just starting their educational journey.
Boileau, a professor of communication, began his career at Mason 1981, teaching general education courses to undergraduates. In 1987, he was named chair of the Communication Department, a position he held for 13 years. During that time, he continued teaching freshmen, a rarity for department heads.
Today, Boileau still directs some of the department’s general education courses. He attributes his strong interest in general education to his own undergraduate years at Stanford University when a professor once told him the importance Harvard professors place on teaching basic courses. “That stuck with me,” Boileau says.
And Boileau is not only dedicated to teaching basic courses, he’s also good at it. As a teacher, according to current department chair Gary Kreps, Boileau regularly receives high praise from his students.
“He has been elected several times as the outstanding department faculty member by Communication students,” Kreps points out, adding, “Don is also a very warm, caring, and supportive teacher and colleague, who does everything he can to help members of the Mason community.”
Boileau, who went to graduate school at the University of Oregon, focuses his research on instructional communication. He has published more than 35 articles on teaching communication and helped develop the nation’s first doctorate in community college education at Mason.
Before becoming a professor, Boileau spent two years in the Peace Corps, an experience he still employs in his intercultural communication class. In it, he has each student spend eight hours with a person whose language and culture differ from theirs.
“They gain an appreciation for another culture,” he says of their experience. “Others say they now have a friend for life.”
Mariana Cruz, Senior of the Year
By Jason Jacks
As a prolific volunteer, global learner, and founding president of a minority student group, Mariana Cruz, a civil and infrastructure engineering major, is proof that the pursuit of excellence doesn’t stop when class lets out.
Since she arrived at Mason in 2007, Cruz has excelled. A recipient of the Volgenau School of Engineering’s William and Susan Eddy Soza Distinguished Scholarship, Cruz has earned at least a 3.50 GPA each semester, while maintaining a demanding load of courses and extracurricular activities.
“I guess, early on, I learned how to manage my time,” Cruz says of keeping a busy schedule.
For instance, Cruz, a native of Peru, spent two weeks in her homeland last summer helping to evaluate irrigation and drinking water strategies for a small village. “It was an opportunity for me to give back to my country,” she says.
She also participates in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, which helps increase the number of minority students involved in math, science, and technology programs. Cruz is also the founding president of a complementary student program called Mason-AMP.
“Mariana is a multitalented individual with broad interests,” says E. Bernard White, an associate dean at Volgenau and a principal investigator in the LSAMP program. “She has devised new programs and services whenever she senses an unmet need.”
Cruz is also regularly called on by the Volgenau School to help in student recruitment and new student orientation events. She also is a peer advisor for the school and a tutor for Intercollegiate Athletics, jobs that inspire her to become a professor someday.
Leaving Mason, she says, will be bittersweet.
“I am closing a really happy chapter of my life,” she says. “But graduation is a time to look to the future.”