George Mason in the News

Posted: March 31, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage George Mason received during the past week.

Wednesday, March 29, Washington Post

GMU’s Success Offers a Model for Classrooms

“Imagine a Jim Larranaga as teacher in a public high school. Could he accomplish with a classroom of students the equivalent of what Coach Larranaga has with the basketball team at George Mason University? Could he take kids who have been written off and astound skeptics by turning them into academic champions? The answer, surely, ought to be yes – even if it’s probably just maybe. ‘About twice a year I go into the locker room at halftime, and I’m always amazed that these big, sweaty guys are not talking about the basketball game,’ said Alan Merten, president of George Mason.”

Thursday, March 30, Wall Street Journal

Educational Slam Dunk? – Upstart George Mason Hopes to Turn Hoops Success into More Students, Money

“After a George Mason University professor shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics, the school’s admissions dean drafted a memo for how to take advantage of another media event that one day could draw even more attention. “Sweet Sixteen: The Plan,” detailed what to do if George Mason reached the round of 16 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament. Among the recommendations: blasting e-mails to admitted students and mobilizing alumni to meet with applicants. How George Mason capitalizes on its magical run promises to be a case study for higher education. Colleges and universities spend tens of millions of dollars hoping success on the football field or basketball court will yield better students, bigger donations and a heightened public image. But never before has a school with such little name recognition or athletic tradition ascended so unexpectedly to the national stage.”

Thursday, March, 30, Associated Press Newswire

George Mason Rules in the Middle East

George Mason’s basketball success has caught many people by surprise – none more than those on the university’s campus in the United Arab Emirates. The tiny satellite school is 60 miles from Dubai and has just 31 students – many from Iraq, Syria and Iran. They’re studying English in hopes of being admitted as freshmen when the campus officially opens in September. Although basketball is about as popular in the UAE as cricket is in America, that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm. The campus librarian says George Mason’s run to the Final Four has been ‘an inspiration.’ George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, who has likened his Superman-slaying team to Kryptonite, says he’s intrigued by the team’s following in the Mideast. And he asks: Can you explain what Kryptonite is in Arabic?”

Thursday, March 30, Rocky Mountain News

George Who? Get a Crash Course on Patriots

“Somebody call the campus thought police. The Final Four is only days away, and no one knows what to think about George Mason University. Not the basketball team – the Patriots are a national phenomenon, thanks to the 2006 NCAA Tournament – but the school itself. A couple of weeks ago, for example, coach Jim Larranaga asked for a show of hands during a news conference. ‘How many of you know if George Mason is a small, private school or a state university?’ he asked reporters. The reaction was, well, underwhelming. ‘It was like a professor asking a class and nobody wanted to answer,’ Larranaga said. Tom [O’Connor] knows the feeling. While in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 17 to assist with an NCAA regional tournament, George Mason’s athletic director spent about $100 in cab fares searching for a sports bar that would show the Patriots’ game with Michigan State. ‘What to you want to watch that for?’ one restaurant manager asked before finally relenting. Talk about an identity crisis. ‘(But) with the exposure we’ve gotten nationally, more people are going to be finding out about George Mason University,’ Larranaga said.”

Thursday, March 30, Washington Post

Mason Magic Isn’t Rocket Science; It’s Economics, at Least When an Acclaimed Faculty Theorizes

“Back before George Mason University’s basketball team was two wins away from a national championship, the school had a different set of all-stars: its economics department. It counts two Nobel laureates and is a ground-breaker in research into how changing incentives affect people’s behavior. But perhaps the two sets of stars have something to learn from each other. Basketball, as it turns out, makes an intriguing laboratory for testing economic theories against how things work in the real world – a specialty of George Mason’s economists. As the basketball team prepares to face the University of Florida in a semifinal game Saturday evening, The Washington Post called some of George Mason’s other big men yesterday to ask how they might apply their pet areas of research to examining their team’s recent success. In case you have trouble keeping them straight: Economists have game theory; the basketball players have just got game.”

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