Diversity: No Limits
From our beginnings as a small University of Virginia branch campus to today, a fully independent R1 research powerhouse serving 39,000 students—in just 50 years, George Mason University has become the largest public university in Virginia, an economic driver, and a model of diversity and inclusivity.
Just as importantly, Mason’s student population reflects our commitment to diversity in word and in action. Our college contributes heavily to Mason’s ranking as one of the most diverse universities in the U.S. (according to U.S. News and World Report).
Diversity is at the core of Mason's values and essential to our College of Science mission. Our aim is to become a national model for inclusive excellence, committed to rooting out institutional racism and cultivating a haven for freedom of expression and diverging perspectives.
A year ago, our inclusive excellence committee worked in parallel with Mason’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force, and with input from College of Science faculty, staff, and students to draft the college’s Inclusive Excellence Plan.
We asked ourselves the question: what can our college do differently at this moment in time to move towards a brighter future?
Each academic unit was tasked with evaluating their current internal practices, policies, and procedures. The intent behind the ask was to have each of the units take a close look at how they were operating and develop attainable strategies to be more inclusive.
I recall the excitement I felt when I shared this IE plan with our Mason Science community. It was recognition that there is work to be done and we are willing and able to strengthen our current culture and diverse Mason Science community. And we will do it together.
A huge step in this effort was identifying the individual to guide our efforts and our actions to implement this plan. After a national search, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Paula Danquah-Brobby as our new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The college’s top choice, she brings significant energy, passion, and global experience to this new position.
Our college’s overall goal as it relates to inclusive excellence is to continue to cultivate an environment that embraces the multiple dimensions of diversity, confronting inequities head on and holding our members accountable for their actions.
In this environment, diversity, equity and inclusion become part of the college’s "DNA" so all members of the College of Science community are appreciated, valued, respected and supported.
To my knowledge, for the first time, last year our annual report publicly provided an aggregate of student, faculty, and staff demographics to show who we are as a community.
Our diverse student population reflects our values of inclusive excellence and accessibility, as well as an intentional environment that welcomes manifold perspectives and voices. Mason’s commitment to accessibility means we support everyone from traditional on-campus undergraduates to mid-career professionals looking to broaden their skill set.
One of our first social media posts in celebration of Black History Month highlighted a quote from the country’s first African-American female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” For many years, we have shared a mantra of Understand. Innovate. Succeed. Here at Mason, we encourage success without limits. United in our mission of creating access to excellence, our faculty, staff, community partners, and alumni have propelled Mason to its current stature.
By establishing a strong focus and foundation, we can begin to truly live up to our ‘no limits’ commitment to our students, employees, alumni, STEM community, University, and society as a whole.