A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Major Gifts Signal Major Growth

By Mason Spirit contributor on April 1, 2010

Albert “Beau” G. Van Metre Jr., chairman of the board of Van Metre Companies, left, and university president Alan Merten.

In terms of physical growth, 2009 was a big year for Mason, with seven buildings coming online and 10 more in the works. Several big gifts signal that the expansion won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

In December, Mason announced a major land gift of 37 acres in Loudoun County, Virginia, from Van Metre Companies. The property is located in Ashburn, near exit 6 of the Dulles Greenway, and within one mile of a future Dulles Corridor Metrorail station.

“As we assess the university’s future and determine how best we can continue meeting the educational needs of our region, this significant gift provides us with strong options to make many of our programs more accessible to many more people,” says Mason President Alan Merten.

On the Fairfax Campus, Northern Virginia businessman Long Nguyen and his wife, Kimmy, have given a gift of $5 million to the university that will officially name Mason’s new state-of-the-art engineering building the Long and Kimmy Nguyen Engineering Building. The gift will support the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering’s expanding programs and ensure its ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty and attract energetic, talented, and creative students.

Long and Kimmy Nguyen with Lloyd Griffiths, dean of the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering.

The building, which formally opened its doors in August, contains more than 180,000 square feet of classroom, research, and office space. As such, it is the largest academic building on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. It is also Mason’s first LEED-certified green building.

Other programs are also benefiting from the generosity of donors. Provost Peter Stearns announced that Mason has received a $4 million commitment to create the Center for Global Islamic Studies. Vural Ak, a Turkish businessman, signed a gift agreement in support of the center.

“We believe that this center will be a leading provider of instruction and research in Islamic studies worldwide,” Stearns told a crowd of supporters during a signing ceremony in October.

Stearns also announced that Islamic studies program director Cemil Aydin will direct the center. His chair is funded by the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Aydin studied at Boğaziçi University, İstanbul University, and the University of Tokyo before receiving his PhD at Harvard University in 2002. He joined Mason this past fall.

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