Public universities provide extraordinary value to the regions they serve. We attract talented people from nearby and far away. We create spaces where students and members of our communities are exposed to new knowledge and ideas. We inspire people to learn, grow, and take action. We produce new insights to deepen our understanding of the world and improve life in our surroundings and beyond.
Our graduates benefit from having access to better careers and more meaningful lives. Employers benefit from a richer talent pool to help them prosper. The community benefits from a more vibrant civic and cultural life.
There is a strong connection between the presence of a world-class research university and economic competitiveness. As our economies become more dependent on knowledge and innovation, and our societies grow more complex, public universities become even more critical.
At Mason, we proudly embrace our public mission. We measure our success by how many lives we change for the better, how many people we help prosper, how much positive impact we and our graduates have on others, and how well we serve talented people regardless of their background and wealth. We work hard to seek new pathways for those who traditionally face more obstacles to access higher education, whether for socioeconomic reasons or life circumstances.
In this past year, we’ve expanded our partnership with Northern Virginia Community College to create a more streamlined and seamless pathway for students who transfer to Mason. We have expanded our online graduate programs through a partnership with Wiley Education Services. And we have worked with Old Dominion University to create a statewide platform—the Online Virginia Network—to provide more options for working adults who want to complete their degrees and advance their careers.
Without these programs, many of our 36,000 aspiring graduates would not be able to pursue a college degree. That would have negative consequences for all of us, because our impact is felt throughout the community.
Our faculty and students are developing new diagnostic tools for Lyme disease, testing policing interventions that reduce crime, leading efforts to diversify our regional economy, and driving integrative care interventions to confront the opioid pandemic. So many of Northern Virginia’s teachers, nurses, police officers, government and business professionals, entrepreneurs, and artists found their start at Mason.
From the retired Army general who attends classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to the young girl born without a left arm who now plays the violin thanks to a new prosthetic created for her by five of our bioengineering students, Mason touches lives in many ways.
Mason is not alone. Virginia is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the 10 best states for higher education and No. 2 overall for its four-year college graduation rate. This year, Virginia public colleges and universities have partnered with business leaders and a bipartisan group of public officials to support efforts to grow the state’s economy through expanded access to education and greater job opportunities. The Growth4VA campaign is intended to provide greater awareness about the value proposition of public education.
The benefits of having more college graduates in our communities are tangible. Over a lifetime, the average bachelor’s degree earner pays $273,000 more in taxes and receives $82,000 less in government spending than peers who complete only a high school degree. That’s a net benefit of $355,000 to the government. In addition, bachelor’s degree holders live longer, are twice as likely to volunteer, give more to charity, and are more engaged in the political process. This leads to an overall rise in well-being and prosperity.
Public universities benefit everyone. It’s worth asking: What would Northern Virginia be without George Mason University?
President, George Mason University
Mason is no longer the little school that could. We have arrived. Our reputation as Virginia’s largest public research university continues to spread and has gained stature here and abroad.
We are currently educating and providing opportunities to 36,000 students–our largest and most diverse student population to date. Accessibility is a goal we continue to pursue, as well as a better student experience at every touchpoint (more on that later). New, light-flooded buildings across campus are just one indication of the confidence the Commonwealth of Virginia has in Mason to lead the charge in evolving education to meet society’s future needs and challenges.
Because while we may have arrived, we’re not about to sit still. There’s more work to be done.
Back to school.
We know Mason is a world-class institution. Others are taking note. This year, the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy named Mason one of the Top 100 universities in the United States and among the Top 300 in the world. U.S. News & World Report called Mason the most diverse university in Virginia, and the magazine named us one of the Top 100 “A+ Schools for B Students,” a ranking that acknowledges campus environments where spirt and hard work pay off.
Donors made a huge impact at Mason in 2017, with more than 13,000 supporters contributing gifts and pledges totaling $62.7 million to the Faster Farther campaign (for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017).
Mason’s inaugural Giving Day, held April 6, offered a new way for the entire community—alumni, friends, students, faculty, and staff—to support Mason. In just 24 hours, more than 1,200 donors answered the call, supporting a wide range of causes, from scholarships and the arts to academics and athletics. For the year, the number of faculty and staff donating nearly doubled, to 714, while alumni supporters topped 6,200, as the call to show Mason spirit resonated strongly with those who know the university best.
In 2018, Mason celebrates the Golden Anniversary of our Alumni Association, started by the class of ’68. From fledgling school to top-tier research university, Mason has come so far in those 50 years, with the support of alumni being crucial to the university’s success. Thanks to the generosity of Mason Nation, 2018 looks bright indeed.
The extraordinary $1 million commitment for music scholarships made by Sid Dewberry grew from a friendship that began 15 years ago. That’s when Dewberry, a legend in civil engineering, began taking piano lessons from Linda Monson, director of the School of Music. He was 75 years old, and learning to play had been a lifelong dream.
Dewberry’s gift will fund scholarships for talented artist-scholars for five years, beginning in fall 2018.
“Linda tells me music is a gift, and she’s absolutely right,” says Dewberry. “I learned a long time ago it’s more fun to give than it is to receive.”
Catherine Becker, MS Environmental Science and Policy ’96, enrolled at Mason to pursue her passion for protecting the environment after a career as a U.S. naval officer. Now research and teaching in the sciences will benefit through a gift from Catherine and her husband, Richard. The couple’s $500,000 commitment will support two graduate research assistant positions in the College of Science for each of the next 10 years. The Becker Research Assistantship is the largest alumni contribution to science at Mason.
Mason men’s and women’s basketball teams finally have their own dedicated practice facility, thanks to the leadership of supporter Kathy McKay and her family. McKay’s gift, along with commitments from other loyal donors, enabled a $1 million renovation to the Recreation Athletic Complex. The renovation includes new hardwood courts, lighting, video capabilities, and bold Patriots branding.
“In the basketball-driven Atlantic 10 Conference, it is imperative that our teams have a dedicated space to develop and compete,” said Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Brad Edwards. “Thanks to the McKay family and other proud Patriots, that’s becoming a reality.”
Our goal is to be a world-class university that provides opportunities for all students, faculty, and staff to thrive. To meet that goal, we must have a strong and sound financial position.
Through our new budget model, we have empowered our colleges, schools, and administrative units to make important decisions that position them for success. Further, we continue to see progress in Richmond, where state policymakers have helped us stay competitive with higher salaries for our faculty and staff and provided support for critical capital improvements for our campus of the future. This support included providing much-needed funding to replace Robinson Hall with a signature 21st-century facility, one that gives everyone in our community the space they need to succeed.
Mason’s reputation and our record of student success is the reason we are responsible for more than half of the enrollment growth in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ultimately, we control our future, and together, we have made Mason a destination for excellence.