University Celebrates 10 Years under President Merten’s Leadership

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

In 1996, George Mason University had 24,368 students. Today it has 30,500. In 1996, the university’s budget was $243 million. Now it is $530 million. In 1996, 2,885 people worked at George Mason. Today there are well over 4,000.

In 1996, Alan Merten and his wife, Sally, joined the university as president and first lady.

Not only have the numbers increased at George Mason – the buildings, the people, student enrollment, the programs – but during the Mertens’ tenure, the intangibles, such as a spirit of entrepreneurship and excitement, have endured, according to the numerous colleagues, friends and associates who spoke at the President’s Fall Convocation on Wednesday.

Mertens at 10 year celebration
The Mertens at the Fall Convocation on Wednesday.
Creative Services photo

Photos, video footage, and live appearances by many people associated with the Mertens recalled the milestones the university has achieved over the past 10 years under the Mertens’ leadership.

With Rick Davis, Center for the Arts artistic director, as master of ceremonies, the presentation included video appearances by Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine and former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Charles Robb; three live appearances by Mason Board of Visitors rectors – Stanley Harrison, who was rector in 1996, Edwin Meese, rector from 1998 to 2004, and Sidney O. Dewberry, the current rector; Brian Lamb, founder and CEO of C-SPAN, who weighed in via video; and long-distance greetings from the Mertens’ expectant daughter, Melissa, and her husband.

The Mertens’ family was also represented in person, with son Eric making comments from the podium and Alan Merten’s mother watching from the audience.

The student body was represented by Aseel Al-Mudallal, president, and Andrew Day, vice president, as well as members of the George Mason University Chorus who sang a “customized” version of “It’s De-Lovely,” to the accompaniment of Stan Engebretson, director of choral studies.

Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens presented a portfolio of the many buildings that have gone up on the Mason campuses since Merten took the reins of the university, while Provost Peter Stearns gave an overview of the academic achievements that have occurred. As well, the president’s entire top leadership council gave their personal impressions of Mason under the Mertens via videotaped interviews.

After all the testimonials were finished, the Mertens took the podium. Sally Merten said, “I’m so overwhelmed. Thank you so much.” And after thanking everyone for their comments, President Merten also thanked “some of the people who don’t always get recognized” – the Physical Plant, Events Management and Sodexho Dining Services staff.

Merten recalled a recent meeting with students in a leadership workshop where he was asked why he’s stayed at George Mason for 10 years. “I answered, ‘For three reasons,'” Merten said. “‘The students, the location and the entrepreneurial spirit of George Mason University.'”

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