One of the things I love most about Mason is how it defines itself as innovative. We are proud of the fact that we are not concerned about doing things the way traditional universities do them and are far more interested in challenging the status quo, trying new things and new approaches. I suppose one cannot keep the “number one up-and-coming” distinction forever, but I love that this is how the world (and yes, U.S. News & World Report) knows us. I truly hope that, as we join the ranks of the best research universities in the world, we don’t lose that spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
I also love that Mason is an inclusive community, one that does not define itself by how many students it leaves out but by how many lives it helps transform every year. From a small teaching satellite campus, we’ve grown into a comprehensive, multicampus, metropolitan, research university serving more students than any of our peer institutions in Virginia. And in doing so, we have found ways to serve an incredibly diverse community composed of people not just from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds but with a wide variety of lifestyles and needs.
We have built 6,000 beds on campus and have created a unique residential environment that is unmatched in the National Capital region. And it’s not just me who says so. I talk to our students—and their parents—every chance I can. They tell me we have an amazing campus life that is proving transformational for them in many ways.
Yet, at the same time, we never turned our back to the thousands of others who do not fit the traditional profile of a college student. These are working professionals, adults getting an advanced degree to prosper in their careers, or Capitol Hill staffers getting their law or MPA degree at night. They are recently retired military service members, home from Afghanistan and Iraq, preparing for their next career.
There is a lot more about Mason that I love. I’m constantly impressed by the scholarship our faculty produces in areas of great relevance and by the number of them who are called to serve in public office or advise business and governments around the world. I love how we bring the community in, whether to enjoy a performance, attend a lecture, or discuss a book. I love that we support small businesses across Virginia and go out of our way to identify and nurture student talent among disadvantaged groups.
George Mason University is an amazing place. We face challenges, of course, and we’ll have to be smart about taking our still short story into a new chapter. Reflecting on what makes us what we are and what we love about this community is the perfect place to start.
President, George Mason University