Mason’s academic rigor and growth highlight BOV meeting


George Mason University is considering a partnership with Major League Cricket (MLC) to build a state-of-the-art facility that would be home to both the Mason baseball team and the Washington Freedom cricket franchise.

fall campus with leaves
Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

Mason Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Ken Walsh and Sanjay Govil, owner of the Washington Freedom MLC team, made a joint presentation to the university’s Board of Visitors on Nov. 30. The BOV will further consider the partnership at a Dec. 14 meeting.

The stadium would be the first step toward planned growth on the western side of the Fairfax Campus.

“We see the overall West Campus development as a long-term goal, as a means of generating new funding for the university, and enhancing campus engagement for our faculty, staff, and students,” Walsh said.

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The Board of Visitors approved several actions as the Nov. 30 meeting, including:

  • The state six-year operating plan.
  • Three new education degree programs: a Master of Education in Literacy Education, a Master of Education in Inclusive Early Childhood Education, and a Bachelor of Science in Education in Secondary Education.
  • The schematic design for a new Activities Building on the Fairfax Campus, with construction set to begin in March 2024. The one-story building, to be located between the Recreation Athletic Complex and Ox Road, will have two basketball courts and serve various student activities and provide space for ensemble and pep band practices.

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Six-year graduation rates for Mason students continue to exceed national averages.

Seventy-two percent of Mason undergraduates earn their degree within six years compared to 64% nationally and 58% among public universities nationally. The rate for Pell Grant recipients at Mason also is 72%. That’s 20% higher than the national average and 25% higher than the national public university average.

“It demonstrates our commitment that every student can succeed,” said Ryan Braun, director of undergraduate academic success, who cited the extensive support network available to Mason students, including academic advisors and success coaches, as one reason for the university’s graduation rates.

The number of students considering Mason continues to increase. There are 10,383 in-state applications for Fall 2024, up from 9,062 in Fall 2023. There are 5,514 out-of-state applications, up from 4,857.

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Mercatus Center faculty director Tyler Cowen, BS Economics ’83, and economics professor Alex Tabarrok, PhD Economics ’94, gave a presentation about the center’s international reputation for economics research and its student focus. Currently Mercatus has 79 students working there, but altogether 436 Mason alumni have passed through the center.

“The fact I am faculty director of Mercatus and I was a student [at Mercatus] I think is important,” Cowen said. He also highlighted Virgil Storr, PhD Economics ’03), who is on the Mercatus Board and serves as vice president of academic and student programs.

“Keeping the student connection alive through what we do and not just at a distance is essential to who we are…. We view ourselves as a bridge between theory, research, and the real world,” Cowen said.

Cowen recalled that when he came to Mason as a student in 1980, the Economics Department was in a house on Roberts Road. Now Mercatus scholars alone have published 93 books in the last five years.

“If you believe in progress, George Mason is where you should be,” Cowen said. “We have made that a reality. Gone from an unknown school with a little quad…to a Tier 1 research university, two Nobel laureates, top 50 programs. That has made the career of my life.”

The Mercatus Center has awarded 790 grants around the world through its Emergent Ventures program, addressing a host of societal issues, and the Fast Grants program raised more than $50 million to accelerate COVID-19 research, including the saliva tests that Yale University created and that Mason used during the pandemic.