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From President Merten

Dear Alumni:

In recent years, George Mason University has made tremendous strides. Our choice this past year as the host for the World Congress on Information Technology has helped to solidify our reputation as a leading institution in the high-tech arena. U.S. News & World Report has ranked three of our graduate programs--creative writing, nursing, and public administration--among the best. A member of the Biology Department has received the university's first patent. The university has instituted a new specialization in bioinformatics--the first of its kind in Virginia. During the past year, we've opened new classroom buildings on the Prince William Campus and a state-of-the-art swimming complex in Fairfax. In addition, a new building in Arlington, designed to house the School of Law and other programs, recently was completed.

George Mason's achievements reflect the high standard of public higher education offered in Virginia. Those of us who live in the commonwealth can rightly be proud of the quality and diversity of its colleges and universities. That quality, however, is built on past investment. If Virginia's colleges are to promote Virginia's success in the information age, they require a strong and steady commitment of state resources and support. Why should we be concerned? Consider the following:

  • Virginia now invests 18 percent less in higher education than in 1990, based on inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Virginia ranks 39th among the 50 states in appropriations for higher education.
  • Virginia students pay the third highest tuition in the nation.
For George Mason, the problem is particularly acute. The youngest of Virginia's higher education institutions, it never reached the full funding level for doctoral institutions before the radical cuts imposed by the recession of the 1990s. A higher funding level is essential if George Mason is to reach its full potential.

Your understanding of the university's needs can help us reach our goals. If you have questions about higher education funding in general, or George Mason's budget, please call me at (703) 993-8700 or send e-mail to I value your advice and support.

Alan G. Merten
George Mason University

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