What’s the “Mater?”

Posted: February 13, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Traci Claar

The “mater” is George Mason’s alma mater. The school song is virtually unknown to the George Mason community, but a newly created traditions committee hopes that soon won’t be the case. The committee is seeking feedback on whether to keep the current song, or begin the process to create a new alma mater to reflect the current vision of the university and the diversity of the students.

The current alma mater can be found in the student handbook. Sung to tune similar to the “Cornell Hymn,” the song was written by Mike McDermott, associate professor emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and registrar emeritus. In 1968, McDermott wrote the first three stanzas of the song in preparation for the first commencement of George Mason College of the University of Virginia. “The song was written tongue-in-cheek, and was not meant to be official, but merely to initiate the process of developing an alma mater,” says McDermott. In 1996, McDermott added another stanza to reflect Mason moving towards a global, rather than regional, university.

A recording of the alma mater, sung by McDermott, will be played at various events throughout Homecoming week and on WGMU. The Homecoming Court will also sing the song at the talent show on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Center Bistro. After hearing it, send feedback to Chris Clark-Talley, director of Alumni Affairs, at x38757 or cclarkta@gmu.edu, by Feb. 23.

Convened by University Life last fall, the traditions committee includes approximately 30 representatives from a variety of departments, student organizations, and faculty members. It was formed to create more clearly defined and celebrated university-wide traditions. The first project of the committee is the alma mater.

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