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Dean’s Blog: Celebrating Trailblazers

Last week was historic on many fronts. George Mason University celebrated 50 years as an independent institution of higher education anchored in Northern Virginia. A far cry from its humble beginnings, Mason’s global footprint now includes campuses in Fairfax, VA, the expanding SciTech location in Manassas, VA, the recent groundbreaking at Mason Square (Arlington, VA), and unique learning experiences at the Potomac Science Center (Woodbridge, VA), the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (Front Royal, VA), and even in South Korea (Songdo).

In a relatively short period of time, in comparison to other higher education institutions in our area, we have grown into Virginia's largest and most diverse public research university. To begin the celebratory week, Mason dedicated the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial.  Our university’s namesake was a bold thinker and trailblazer, yet even he at his time in society made choices counter to Mason’s vision and values of today. As we bravely and boldly go forward in our next chapter as a University, as a College, and as a nation, we should learn lessons from our past-- study them, understand them, and share them--yet move forward to become better because of these lessons and actions.

Mason’s President Washington proclaimed “It’s Mason’s Time” unveiling a video which identified the attributes that symbolize our trailblazing brand. The Mason Nation is diverse and inclusive, proud Patriots filled with grit and audacity, determined to pursue a quality education and impactful research. Merging different points of view to create new ideas, innovative solutions, and unheard of opportunity. We are united in tackling the most pressing challenges the world has ever faced. Driven by the pull of possibility to think fearlessly, to inspire, to protect, and to heal the planet. We are fueled and made stronger by difference, difference in where we come from, and how we think but the same in our dreams for tomorrow.

We know the world will change, because together we will be the ones who will change it.

The Mason alumni network is over 220,000 strong, many of them Mason scientists impacting our world with creative thinking, scientific rigor, and problem-solving skills that change the way we live. We bring forth the emerging STEM workforce ready for the next chapter of innovations, partnerships, and discovery.

Also last week, beyond the Mason celebrations, the US Senate confirmed the appointment of its own trailblazer to the highest court in the land, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Regardless of your political affiliation or policy views, we must all take a moment to celebrate this historic moment that affords us a more representative judiciary branch of government.  

We strive as a college to create a similarly representative community of our students, staff, and faculty. As I observed these important milestones in the history of our university and our nation, it was quite evident to me that most trailblazers didn't get to where they are by taking the easy road. We must know where we've been as well as where we want to go. And have the vision and grit to get there.

At Mason, we celebrate our strength that we are all together different.