George Mason to Graduate 6,803 Students at 2006 Commencement

Posted: April 27, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

George Mason University celebrates the largest graduating class in its history on Saturday, May 20, as 6,803 students are scheduled to receive their degrees.

The university will award 3,843 bachelor’s degrees, 2,505 master’s degrees, 190 doctoral degrees and 265 law degrees at the 39th Commencement ceremony.

It is expected that this will be the largest graduating class in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2006 as well.

Scott S. Cowen, president of Tulane University in New Orleans, is this year’s commencement speaker.

Mason will also honor Cowen with an honorary doctor of humane letters for the leadership he displayed during the Hurricane Katrina disaster that forced Tulane and many other institutions of higher learning in that region to shut down for several months.

When Katrina struck, Cowen rode out the storm at the campus’ recreation center, sleeping on the floor. Tulane University suffered more than $200 million in damages. As part of the institution’s recovery effort, Cowen initiated a comprehensive plan to, as he said at the time, “help ensure Tulane’s survival in a post-Katrina world.”

Cowen has served as Tulane’s president since 1998. Prior to that, he was a faculty member for 23 years and dean and Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Management at the Weatherhead School of Management for 14 years at Case Western Reserve University.

Several other distinguished individuals will be recognized at this year’s commencement program.

Enrico Garaci, president of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS), will be awarded an honorary doctor of science degree. Throughout his career, Garaci has had a profound influence on the direction of medical research in Italy through his leadership of the ISS and other prestigious organizations. ISS is the primary scientific arm of the Italian National Health Service.

Mason will be awarding its highest honorary award, the George Mason Medal, to John M. Toups, in recognition of his long and distinguished record of public service. Toups is a George Mason University Foundation trustee emeritus and former foundation chair.

In 1958, he founded a civil engineering firm that merged with Planning Research Corporation (PRC), an information technology and engineering firm, in 1970. From 1978 until his retirement in 1987, Toups served as chairman and CEO of PRC.

Toups remains active in community activities. He is chair of the Inova Health Systems Board of Trustees, a member and past chair of the Professional Services Council, a member and past chair of the Northern Virginia Community Foundation, and a founding member of the Northern Virginia Roundtable.

In 2003, Mason’s College of Nursing and Health Science named its nursing clinical simulation labs after Toups and his wife, Nina, in recognition of their encouragement and support.

During the past 39 years, nearly 110,000 men and women have received degrees from Mason.

Mason’s 2006 commencement begins at 10 a.m. in the Patriot Center on the Fairfax Campus.

Write to at