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Measuring Success

Measuring Success

This is a short comment, appropriately jolly for the season.

One of the most satisfying developments at Mason over the past decade plus involves the increasing number of venues in which we can identify student success. I hasten to add that Mason has always attracted many good students, so I don’t mean to overdo the novelty. And of course it’s true that spring is usually the most appropriate time to take note of the records of some of our best individual students.

But it’s collective (though not universal) achievements that I want to note here. My thoughts were stimulated by the annual holiday music concert. I have to confess (again, no insults intended to the many able, past student musicians) that when I first heard our orchestra I was underwhelmed. The steady improvements over the years, however, not only in the orchestra but now also in solo vocalists and the choir, are truly impressive. The recent concert was splendid — to my non-specialist and certainly subjective ears. And we could say the same about dance and other collective arts categories.

It’s also been great to note, over recent years, the exemplary success of our nursing graduates on their licensing exams, which was a problem for us a decade ago, as well as our law students on bar exams. In both cases we’ve not only improved our own record, but have risen well above state averages.

Students, in sum, form one of our greatest assets. Their progress reflects important evolutions in admissions standards and results, and certainly the positive input of many faculty. I sometimes wonder if we find enough opportunities to identify student quality and achievement in our academic arenas. Both are very real, and I think many faculty would agree that both contribute greatly to the pleasure of working here.