Mason to Graduate Largest Class Ever; U.S. Sen. John Warner to Speak

Posted: May 5, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

A total of 6,354 students will graduate at George Mason University’s 38th annual Commencement on Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. in the Patriot Center. U.S. Sen. John Warner, Virginia’s senior representative, will deliver the commencement address.

Of the 2005 graduating class—the largest in Mason’s history—3,494 students are receiving undergraduate degrees and 2,611 will be awarded master’s or doctoral degrees. The School of Law will graduate 249 students.

Mason’s oldest graduate this year is 77, while the youngest is 18. Christyn Wallace of Richmond is the student speaker. She will receive a degree in integrative studies.

Two honorary degrees, both doctoral degrees in humane letters, will be bestowed. The first will be awarded to Warner and the second to dancer and choreographer Mark Morris.

The George Mason Medal, the university’s highest honorary award, is also being given to two individuals: Sally Merten, wife of Mason President Alan Merten, and Earle Williams, retired president and CEO of BDM International Inc.

Warner is in his 27th year as a national representative of Virginia. He chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Mark Morris is the founder of the Mark Morris Dance Group. This company performs all over the world and stops regularly at Mason’s Center for the Arts. Morris’ work as a ballet choreographer is much in demand and is performed by numerous prestigious companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opera Ballet. Currently, Morris and his company work out of their headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sally Merten has distinguished herself as a dynamic community and cultural activist throughout the United States and before her years at Mason. In Gainesville, Fla., she served as a member of the Florida Arts Celebration and helped promote a new “Artists in the Schools” program. In Ithaca, N.Y., she served on the board of the Community School of Music and the Arts and worked closely with area schools to provide special children’s productions. In Northern Virginia, she serves as a trustee of WETA public television and is a member of the advisory board of the Medical Care for Children Partnerships and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

Earle Williams was the top manager of BDM Industries from 1972 to 1992. During that time, the company’s employment grew from 430 to 4,500, and its annual revenue grew from $7.7 million in 1972 to $424 million in 1992. Since retiring, he has remained active in the community. Williams has served as director and past chair of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, past chair of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Economic Development Authority, and as permanent director and past international chair of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

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