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Seeing Visions

15 Feb Posted by in Academics, Observations | Comments
Seeing Visions

Mason’s Visions Series is now in its fourth year in Fairfax, and has launched a series also in our new Prince William Hylton Center. Next year we will expand as well to the new conference room facility on the Arlington campus.

The purpose of the series was and is to showcase Mason faculty, from various disciplines, who have interesting research to discuss and can do so interestingly. Universities so often spend time showcasing faculty from other places — as they should, and as we also do — that it seemed fitting that we should do the same for our many distinguished faculty (and not just the most senior ones; we’ve had excellent efforts by younger folks as well).

The series has worked surprisingly well. The hope was that it would help build community, across conventional boundaries. The greatest success has come from people living around the University but not of it, some of whom have become real regulars. University faculty and staff attend as well, though understandably some focus mainly on efforts in their own fields. And we have some good student audiences, though I wish more students saw this as a relevant resource aside from being encouraged within particular courses.

The faculty involved typically put in a fair amount of preparation time, which is commendable, and I think they regard selection as a bit of an honor, which it is.

The other nice thing about the series and its success (with audiences even gaining ground in the new Prince William endeavor) is that it serves no really selfish purpose, at least in any immediate sense. We don’t use the talks as a means of raising money or soliciting other favors — they’re simply a celebration of various kinds of intellectual and creative endeavor. Attendees are present out of interest, not for grades or other rewards. And the speakers perform from their own commitment to their work. So, if I may presume, good for all of us.