On Thursday, April 23, the George Mason University Alumni Association recognized its most prestigious alumni, as well as Senior of the Year and Faculty Member of the Year, at an elegant dinner in the Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes.
For a look at the biographies of those honored that night, please take a look at the program available online. The top four award winners are profiled below.
Dayton Moore, Alumnus of the Year
As a Mason baseball player, Dayton Moore, BSEd Physical Education ‘91, MS ’93, was known for his great defensive skills, but his coach also noticed he had a knack for teaching and hired him on as an assistant coach. Soon Major League Baseball came calling, and Moore took a scouting job for the Atlanta Braves in 1994. Now widely regarded as one of the “brightest minds in baseball,” this Mason graduate leads the Kansas City Royals as a general manager and senior vice president of baseball operations.
This year marks Moore’s ninth full-season with the Royals. The Wichita, Kansas, native became the team’s sixth general manager in franchise history in 2006. In 2014, the Royals stormed to 89 victories and qualified for the postseason for the first time in 29 years. Kansas City reeled off eight-straight wins to open the playoffs and qualify for the World Series for the first time since 1985.
Moore’s tenure in Kansas City has been one of the most successful runs in franchise history as the Royals have boasted nine Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, 13 All-Star Game selections, and a Cy Young Award winner in his first nine seasons. He has received several accolades over the last year, being named to the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Kansan of the Year, while he has also been tabbed “Executive of the Year” by Major League Baseball (GIBBY Awards) as well as the Kansas City Sports Commission.
Prior to joining the Royals, Moore served three years as director of player personnel with the Atlanta Braves, beginning in 2002. He originally joined the Braves organization as an area scouting supervisor and was promoted to the front office in August, 1996 as an assistant in the baseball operations department.
Before joining the Braves, Moore served as an assistant baseball coach at Mason University from 1990 to 1994. Moore and his wife, Marianne, reside in Leawood, Kansas, and have two daughters, Ashley and Avery, and a son, Robert.
Michael Gallagher, Alumni Service Award
The winner of the 2015 Alumni Service Award is in the business of giving awards, not accepting them. In fact, Michael Gallagher, MBA ’94, says, “It’s rare for me to actually get them.”
But it’s an accolade that’s well deserved. Gallagher, who started a business that presents awards that recognize achievements in a range of businesses, has been involved with Mason’s School of Business Alumni Chapter since 2009, a year after school representatives reached out to request his service and 14 years after he graduated.
Gallagher, who says he is reluctant to join causes because of time restraints, makes time for Mason activities because, he says, “I get to meet lots of nice people. It’s fun. And if it weren’t fun, I wouldn’t do it. It’s also fun to be appreciated and listened to. As you get older, you find you have learned a few things you can share with people.”
This year, Gallagher served as chair of the Business Alumni Chapter’s fund-raising committee. In the past, he has served as president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors with a mission to encourage participation—not easy for someone who admits to not being a joiner. He helped launch the annual Business Alumni Celebration, the School of Business’ premiere alumni event. In addition, he judges student business plans for capstone case competitions.
As for his company, while working with an awards firm in New York, Gallagher found a niche in the market: as of yet, no one was presenting awards to deserving business executives and workers, so he created the Stevie® Awards, which recognize achievements in six programs, including the American Business Awards.
—Buzz McClain, BA ’77
William Miller, Faculty Member of the Year
Ask William Miller about his time at George Mason University, and statements peppered with such words as “love,” “thrilled” and “energized” will pour forth. It’s this passion for the university, as well as Miller’s regard for the written word, that earned him this year’s Faculty Member of the Year Award.
While a 1987 graduate of George Mason’s Creative Writing MFA Program, it’s a safe bet Miller had no idea he’d be directing that program six years later—a position he still holds. Or that in 2001, he’d begin directing Mason’s massive Fall for the Book festival and in 2012 would launch the only BFA in Creative Writing Program in Virginia—one of only 30 in the nation.
Now a term full professor, Miller says his classes still inspire him.
“I’ve been teaching every semester since fall 1985 when I started as a graduate teaching assistant,” he says. “I’ve loved every minute of it. I mostly work with creative writing students now, ones finishing up their BFAs. We can just spark a room with creative energy, and that energizes me.”
Robert Matz, senior associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said in his award recommendation letter that “Miller has not only enriched George Mason University tremendously, but has also given back as one of Mason’s own.” He cites Miller as an “exemplary colleague” who has “made a remarkably significant contribution to the Mason community.”
Miller’s son attended Mason, and his grandson is now enrolled in the BFA program his grandfather created. “I’m delighted he chose that,” Miller says. “He looked at UVA, William and Mary—but they didn’t offer the academic programs or the kinds of majors and distillation of experience that he wanted.”
Of all his accomplishments at Mason, which makes him most proud? “For one thing I’m proud it’s not over yet,” he says. “I have personal and programmatic goals I’d like to reach. And in the meantime, I’m teaching a couple of classes every semester and having a good time. I see this honor as not a capping of a career, but a step along the way.”
—Cathy Cruise, MFA ’93
Raquel Friedmann, Senior of the Year
Raquel Friedmann, 2015 Senior of the Year, credits her parents with teaching her that every action has an impact. Part of that credo included being good environmental stewards in their home in southern California. Composting, recycling, and gardening were part of the family’s routine.
“Caring for the environment was a value that was important in my household,” she said. “My parents were good about encouraging us to get outside and explore. From a young age, I had a real love for the natural environment.”
As a student, Friedmann has carried that legacy forward through environmental education and advocacy. She hopes to instill that same concern for the environment in lawmakers, community members, and her peers.
Lisa Gring-Pemble, dean of New Century College, nominated Friedmann for Senior of the Year and believes she is poised to meet the challenge as she graduates.
“Raquel epitomizes the Mason graduate,” said Gring-Pemble. “She has demonstrated a level of resourcefulness, an enterprising spirit, and a commitment to making meaningful changes in society in ways that are truly astounding for any adult, much less a college student. Her generous spirit, commitment to social action, and brilliant mind have enriched Mason in profound ways.”
Friedmann wanted to study marine biology and conservation. A high school science teacher helped her see that environmental studies could offer a solid foundation for many career paths. This eventually led her to Mason’s program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, where she met many students equally passionate about the environment.
“My success at Mason had a lot to do with finding a supporting community,” Friedmann said.
That community quickly expanded to include key roles on campus in Student Government, as a residence hall advisor, and an Orientation Leader, among others.
“One thing I love about Mason is that they want you to have a role in making change on campus,” she said.
As a sophomore, Friedmann realized that, with careful planning, she could complete her degree in three years. She has filled those years with strenuous course work, internships, volunteer, and international Alternative Break experiences.
The honors and awards have accumulated as well. Friedmann received the ConocoPhilips Water and Biodiversity Stewardship scholarship, the Peter and Marjorie Storm Sustainability Endowed Scholarship, and the Peter C. Forame Student Leader Scholarship. She was inducted into the Alumni Association’s Golden Quill Society, was named Student Government Executive Branch Member of the Year for the 2013-14 year, and earned the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Academic Achievement Award in 2013, among other honors.
Friedmann is spending her final semester at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation studying the intersection of conservation, biodiversity, and society in Front Royal, Virginia. “I love the program,” she said. “We have lectures, but we spend a lot of time out in the field learning hands-on conservation biology.”
As part of her SMSC experience, Friedmann has an internship with the nonprofit group Virginia Working Landscapes, which assists Virginia landowners to improve biodiversity on their land.
Friedmann will put this and other internship and academic experiences to use as she continues her studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. There, she will work toward a graduate degree in international environmental policy and hopes to join the Master’s International program that combines graduate work with a full Peace Corps volunteer experience.
“I feel very prepared,” she said. “Mason has challenged me academically. There are so many outstanding people on campus, I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.”