Skip to main

Dean's Blog: It’s Mason’s time: Preparing the next great generation to save our future

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Over the last week, the Mason nation has been celebrating the investiture of our eighth president, Dr. Gregory Washington.

Usually held at the conclusion of the president’s first year, this academic ceremony presents opportunities to welcome a new era and celebrate as a community.

This installation ceremony itself included many academic traditions and protocols; attendees saw an academic procession of delegates from other colleges and universities as well as Mason’s own faculty sporting their colorful academic regalia; enjoyed musical selections from the university’s Wind Symphony, Chorale and the Green Machine; and heard numerous greetings from members of the university, government and surrounding community leaders. And we also heard a rallying cry…It’s Mason’s time.

Our college was well represented during President Washington’s Investiture activities and sessions, (thanks Tom Lovejoy, Ginny Espina, and Hakeem Oluseyi for sharing insights on the issues of our time and our greatest challenges, as well as all those across our college who attended the festivities at SciTech and Fairfax campuses). The discussions were lively and the atmosphere was festive as we all officially welcomed the next leader of our university.

If you couldn’t get to the actual ceremony on Thursday, October 21 or heard any of the guest speakers and discussions, I strongly encourage you to watch them, and even read President Washington’s Investiture remarks.
President Washington proclaimed “It is Mason’s time,” while discussing education and its role to transform the lives of students on our quest for a healthy economy, healthy people, healthy society, and a healthy planet.

Some say the generation of World War 2 was our greatest, living through the Great Depression and World War 2. Yet, President Washington proclaimed our challenge is to prepare the next great generation who are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, and will face great challenges like climate change in a data driven society. He anticipates we will rely on them to save our world, again.

I echoed President Washington’s characterization of Mason’s mission in our recent State of the College address; “We are in the success business.”

Washington stated in the grand issues of our time panel discussion, “To be a successful university, you have to be big in the big things.” And it is up to us to foster the science success business at Mason. We will get our students to point B no matter where each individual’s point A is.

President Washington

We have the opportunity to collectively share our challenges and big ideas with President Washington when he visits with us on Thursday, November 4, at 2pm in Merten Hall. [Register now to attend].

During this session, you’ll have a chance to hear from him first-hand what the university has planned and how our college will help propel Mason forward into this next chapter of our rich 50-year history. But the purpose of this meeting is not the lecture of a vision. Rather, it is an opportunity for scientists at Mason to do what we do best-- Ask meaningful questions. Provide alternative perspectives and solutions. Look beyond the now to the future and figure out how we, and our students can prepare society for it.

Our college is poised at a tipping point. As Mason Science Patriots, we must identify and capitalize on our strengths and be bold and brave enough to move beyond what may hold us back--silos, insecurities, even fear to try new things.

Our new normal shows us anything is possible with hard work, innovative idea sharing, and open minds. It’s our time to show why science matters.