School of Information Technology and Engineering Receives $10 Million to Kick Off 2010 Campaign

Posted: October 31, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

The School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E) celebrated its 20th anniversary last Friday night, culminating in an announcement of a $10 million gift from Ernst and Sara Volgenau. The gift is the largest individual contribution in the history of the university and kicks off the newly named Volgenau School of IT&E’s $20 million fund-raising campaign.

The Volgenau gift will enable the school to make strategic investments in critical areas of study such as biotechnology, knowledge management and information security. The additional funds raised during the campaign will be used to help finance the construction of a new building that will house all of the school’s academic and research programs. This facility is scheduled to open in fall 2009.

“Sara and Ernst are a part of the George Mason family,” said Alan Merten, president of George Mason. “From Ernst’s service on the Board of Visitors to his intimate involvement with the School of IT&E, this university has benefited and continues to benefit from his leadership, generosity and passion for the information technology industry.”

At the event, Volgenau said, “A disturbing trend in engineering and science education is that many talented people from emerging countries are choosing to study and work at home rather than come to the United States. At the same time, the number of U.S. students enrolling in science and math has not been adequate. We need creative initiatives to solve this problem, such as providing more opportunities and better education in our region.”

Lloyd Griffiths, dean of the school, said, “Having the Volgenau name in our school brings us significant honor and recognition. Ernst epitomizes the successful innovative engineer who understands how advanced research concepts can produce important new technology breakthroughs. His personal high ethical standards and business foresight have led his company, SRA, to a position of corporate leadership that many other companies strive to emulate.

“I am most pleased that he and his wife Sara have chosen to invest in the future of our school,” Griffiths added. “Their gift will help establish our school in a position of national and international leadership.”

The Volgenau School of IT&E embarks on its 2010 campaign to meet the rapidly growing need in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area for highly trained information technology and engineering professionals in a wide range of fields, from national security to health care.

The focus of the campaign is on attracting quality students, expanding the faculty to accommodate the growth of the student body (now at more than 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students) and constructing a state-of-the-art facility that will include teaching and research spaces and leased space for corporations to collaborate on research with faculty.

New IT&E Building
An architect’s drawing of the planned building for the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering.

The school also plans to launch programs in bioengineering and the information technology-biosciences.

“Because of the number of technology companies in this region, Northern Virginia needs a first-class teaching and research university in the study of science and engineering,” said Volgenau. “My wife, Sara, and I decided to invest in George Mason’s School of IT&E because we believe President Merten, Dean Griffiths and other capable Mason faculty and administrators are creating that first-class learning environment. We are honored to be a part of this effort.”

Volgenau is a distinguished professor of information technology and engineering in IT&E, and the chairman of SRA, a leading provider of information technology services to clients in national security, civil government and health care and public health organizations. SRA also delivers business solutions for text and data mining, contingency and disaster response planning, information assurance, environmental strategies, enterprise systems management and wireless integration.

The Volgenau School of IT&E is the first school in the nation to establish a PhD program in information technology and have an academic center in systems security. The school is a nationally recognized leader in information security and assurance; learning agents; and artificial intelligence, robotics, wireless communication and transportation systems.

For more information on the Volgenau School of IT&E, visit its web site.

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