Twin Engines

With Two New Leaders, Mason Drives New Partnerships in Research, Entrepreneurship


“A research university is measured by the new knowledge it creates—and its success in sharing that knowledge with students and partners in the local community,” said Deb Crawford, Mason’s new vice president for research. That choice of words didn’t ring hollow at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Va., where a cross-section of university and regional leaders came together on Thursday, June 9. Their gathering celebrated the arrival of Dr. Crawford as well as local investor-entrepreneur Sean Mallon, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Crawford, who began at Mason on April 25, comes most immediately from the International Computer Science Institute, an independent research institution affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to that role she held senior research positions at Drexel University and the National Science Foundation. Mallon, who holds a Wharton MBA, began his Mason role on April 11. He has more than twenty years of experience in startups and venture capital, has founded two companies, and has an extensive business background in telecommunications that complements Crawford's academic one (she holds a doctorate in information systems engineering).

The two bring their expertise to Mason at a pivotal time, noted President Ángel Cabrera, who reflected on the university's recent ascent to tier-one status in the influential Carnegie classification. Observing that "growing in size and diversity while also joining the top research institutions in our nation is not easy, yet that is exactly what our community needs of us," President Cabrera identified research as a key contributor to the economic success of northern Virginia and the National Capital Region. "To build a globally competitive economy that is less reliant on government spending, it is crucial that we strengthen the research, innovation and entrepreneurship fabric of our region," he said. "As the largest research university in Virginia, we are committed to playing that role: to be not only the main source of talent but also ideas that can fuel the needs of a dynamic, innovative region."

Enter Crawford and Mallon, both of whom report to Provost S. David Wu. “Before now, Mason had a single office devoted to research as well as economic development—but with the progress Mason has been making, that area has become quite vast,” Wu said. “Moreover, we recognize that overseeing research and fostering innovation require two very different sets of strengths. Deb is leading the charge in helping us define and promote our intellectual signatures, while Sean is already making very promising connections between Mason and the region. The difference they will be able to make is obvious.”

It’s obvious, too, that Crawford and Mallon will enjoy many opportunities to work together as each helps effect changes necessary for the next stage in Mason’s history. It's a new chapter that President Cabrera, for one, is eager to begin during the Faster Farther campaign.

"What would Silicon Valley be without Stanford, without Berkeley?,” Cabrera said. “What is Cambridge, Massachusetts, without MIT and Harvard? Today this region can boast a world-class research university and a thriving economic community. This is the time for all the leaders in our community to come together and join us in moving our region forward."

Businesses and other institutions who wish to invest in research or entrepreneurship at Mason may speak to Corporate and Foundation Relations staff by emailing campaign@gmu.edu.


LH / June 15, 2016