President's End-of-Semester Message
May 31, 2016
It has been a remarkable year for George Mason University, one of progress and achievement. Together, we helped a record 8,500 students complete a life-changing degree. We attracted our largest, most diverse incoming class ever. We produced scientific breakthroughs in a number of disciplines and were recognized nationally and internationally for our scholarship. And we made significant progress in strengthening our university so it can achieve even greater impact in the future.
This also has been a year of challenge and introspection. One of the great benefits of being a large and diverse institution is having a wealth of backgrounds and perspectives that push us to think differently about Mason. Everyone has a stake in our progress, and I applaud you for prodding us to be the best university we can be.
This is an exciting time for Mason. The work we do and the impact we have cannot be achieved without the immense effort and skill put forth every day by our faculty and staff—with the critical support of our community. [...] Our combination of academic excellence and a steadfast commitment to serving a growing and diverse student body is a hallmark of where we are as a university. I hope this summer you also will have a chance to relax and reflect—and that you share in my anticipation of another dynamic year.
Ángel Cabrera (excerpted from a longer message; read the highlights below)
We achieved a milestone by joining, for the first time, the elite group of 115 colleges and universities with the highest Carnegie research classification in the nation.
In December, we announced a new research partnership with Inova Health System that will expand our capabilities in biomedical research. The partnership will benefit from new state and federal grants as well as private philanthropy, enriching the innovation ecosystem of our region and driving our economy forward.
Increasing numbers of students are working side by side with our faculty, gaining unique hands-on experience in cutting-edge science and technology, policy, humanities, and the arts.
Our university-wide commitment to research is benefiting our students directly:
- In April, 74 students—the most in university history—were accepted to present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the most notable event of its kind in the country.
- Our undergraduate research program has earned accolades and has won the national award from the Council on Undergraduate Research.
- Seventeen Mason students were winners or finalists for prestigious national awards. Of them, nine are minority students and seven identify as being the first generation in their family to go to college—including our first Udall Scholarship winner in seven years.
- Another student was one of 12—among 400 applicants—selected for the Carnegie Junior Fellows program.
- We had a record five Boren Scholars and Fellows, a selective program that helps exceptional students spend time abroad and gain access to careers in the federal government.
- We had two Truman Scholarship finalists, honoring the nation’s top aspiring public servants, including one who received the Public Policy in International Affairs Scholarship to study nonprofit leadership at Princeton this summer.
Our community recognizes and supports our progress. We were pleased with the investments in higher education in the new budget put forth by Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly, which includes major capital appropriations to rebuild Robinson Hall and modernize utilities infrastructure, as well as additional operating funds that helped us keep tuition increases at the lowest levels in recent history.
On the philanthropic front:
- We are closing in on our $500 million goal for our Faster Farther campaign and should reach that mark during the 2016-17 academic year—well ahead of plan.
- This year we will once again close our books with a record fundraising result, thanks in great part to major gifts of $30 million to the law school and $10 million to the school of policy and government.
- But all gifts, large and small, make a difference. Alumni donors are up 13.5 percent, and alumni donations are up 61 percent.