As the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation celebrates the dedication of its new academic, residential, and dining facilities in October, a $5 million gift will name the residence hall and dining complex in Front Royal, Virginia, the G. T. Halpin Family Learning and Living Community.
Real estate developer Gerald “Jerry” T. Halpin is providing the funds to establish an endowment for the school, providing scholarships for students and professionals, support for curriculum and program development, and faculty research.
“We seek to attract the very best students to this program, and these students require scholarship support to ease their financial burden and be able to concentrate in an immersive living-learning environment,” says Alonso Aguirre, the school’s executive director. “The gift will have a life-changing impact among this new generation of conservation leaders.”
A LEED Gold-certified Standard building, the new residential complex can house 120 students. Some of its features include green-roof technology, geothermal heating and cooling, composting kitchen waste, rainwater reuse, and storm-water management. As part of the Smithsonian-Mason Semester, students spend a semester living on the Front Royal site and working closely with Smithsonian scientists.
Halpin is the founder and former president and CEO of WEST*GROUP Management LLC. He, along with his partners, are credited with creating the West*Gate and West*Park areas of Tysons Corner and developing more than 14 million square feet of office, retail, residential, resort, and industrial space in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
“Mason has been such an important part of the continued success of Fairfax County and the well-being and education of its citizens that we are pleased to make this gift,” says Halpin. “The conservation work the university is doing in Front Royal, in association with the Smithsonian, is ultimately of terrific importance for us as citizens of a great metropolitan area and as inhabitants of this planet.”
Halpin has been a volunteer leader at Mason, having served on the Mason Foundation Board of Trustees and the College of Science Corporate Advisory Board. He also has donated to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.