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How Students Help Us Build

30 Apr Posted by in Academics | Comments Off on How Students Help Us Build

This is the season when we learn about the achievements of all sorts of individual students. Our students have collected Fullbright grants, they’ve won a disproportionate share of awards in vocal music, they’ve pushed us near the top in Forensics — this list is long and the students impressive. Obviously accomplishments of this sort help Mason greatly, in terms of impact and image alike. I’m also struck by how much our students help us in other ways. The Mason Ambassadors group wins almost universal praise for the ways they enthuse and inform undergraduate applicants — they know their audience but they also have learned a lot about the university.

I had the pleasure of meeting recently with another group that’s helping to build the university. The Asian and Pacific American student association, with whose leaders I meet once a year, has turned a vague interest in establishing an Asian American studies minor into a really active plan. With the help of an able faculty advisor, they’ve canvassed available courses and analogues at other institutions, while also talking with existing and prospective students about what kinds of emphases would be particularly useful. Going farther still, they recently organized a conference and concert for several hundred local high school students, interested in learning more about the field and about Mason as a source of educational opportunity. The energy poured into this project was constructive in many ways, in attracting potential applicants for the future and in contributing still further toward helping us define an enriching educational program.

Examples could be multiplied. Students in the global affairs area have managed to mount an enriching conference on global issues for the third year in a row. Student government has been exceptionally active and constructive this year. The fact is that our student leadership capacity seems to be increasing fairly steadily, providing a real source of guidance along with some very concrete achievements here and now.