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Couple’s Gift Boosts Graduate Science Research

Graduate research and graduate teaching in the sciences will receive a big boost through a precedent-setting gift from Richard and Catherine Becker ’96 MS Environmental Science and Policy.  A $500,000 commitment from the Alexandria, Va. couple will support two graduate research assistant positions in the College of Science for each of the next 10 years.

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Dick and Cathy Becker with College of Science Dean Peggy Agouris at Exploratory Hall. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

Both Cathy and Dick served as U.S. Naval officers after getting their undergraduate degrees in California—Dick aboard ships as a Surface Warfare Officer, and Cathy stationed ashore doing data management. Always interested in protecting the environment, Cathy enrolled at Mason to pursue that passion after she retired from the Navy.  “When I came to George Mason I was so impressed,” she recalls. “I loved spending time in classes and labs, learning from outstanding instructors, and interacting with other students.” Cathy completed a master’s degree that led to a rewarding second career in the private sector in environmental services consulting.

Wanting to help other Mason students as their means grew, the Beckers began supporting student scholarships. A turning point, says Cathy, was hearing from and meeting students they had helped. That inspiration led to their decision to support master’s candidates in the department of environmental science and policy, which has nearly 200 active graduate students.

The impact of the couple’s generosity will be widely felt. The Becker Research Assistantship is the largest alumni contribution to science at Mason and among the largest alumni gifts yet to the university’s comprehensive Faster Farther campaign.

December 6, 2016 / RR