Serving Up Thanks
University president Dr. Ángel Cabrera hung up his coat and tie for a few hours on Thursday, October 27, in exchange for an apron and chef's hat in honor of the 2016 Faculty–Staff Donor Appreciation Brunch, an annual tradition in which Dr. Cabrera and members of his executive council show their appreciation for Mason faculty and staff who have made charitable gifts to the university in the past fiscal year.
More than 100 of Mason's faculty and staff donors gathered in Dewberry Hall in the Johnson Center for this celebration of their philanthropy and commitment to Mason. The group enjoyed a delectable meal, highlighted by pineapple upside-down French toast, personally served up with a smile and thanks from the university’s leadership team.
Among the attendees were Professor John Schreifels, who established a chemistry scholarship in part by running a distance equivalent to the circumference of the earth. The late Nancy Murphy was also on many minds; colleagues of the former University Life employee established a scholarship for students who had completed Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP), which helps academically inclined students in middle school become first-generation college students. Other faculty and staff present, some who have been loyal donors for more than 20 years, had given generously to their schools and colleges, athletics, and the arts.
The day's master of ceremonies—Faster Farther campaign chair and Board of Visitors member Jimmy Hazel—opened remarks by thanking the assembled faculty and staff for their continued support of Mason, not just through their work but also through their generous donations. He also invited a round of applause for President Cabrera and the executive council members serving with him; guests answered with a cheer of appreciation for their time and incredible serving skills.
Guest speaker Dave Roe '89 MBA '96 (who had been honored earlier in the week), shared his appreciation for how greatly resources for Mason students have expanded since his own student days. He impressed upon captivated listeners the positive effect that changing a life through generosity can bring, such as with the current recipient of the Roe Soccer Scholarship. "Because of the endowment," Roe commented, "the soccer coach here at Mason was able to recruit her from another school." When he began his first endowed scholarship, Roe observed, he was not making a large salary; the three endowments he and his wife have given at Mason did not begin with large single gifts but instead built up over time. The Roes hope to endow another scholarship in the future.
President Cabrera highlighted some of the remarkable students that George Mason University attracts and produces. One, recruited to Mason through EIP, had introduced First Lady Michelle Obama at her most recent visit to the university. Another's interest and commitment to international relations (along with study of the Chinese language), allowed him the opportunity to interview First Lady Obama overseas in China. Without the support of philanthropy from the wider Mason community, the president noted, these students and many others would not have the opportunities they now enjoy.
Mason changes the trajectories of students’ futures, Cabrera observed, providing a distinct "before" and "after" to their lives. The faculty and staff present at the brunch understood that their support, along with their talent and dedication, helps student lives continue to be changed.
10/28/2016 - CM