Recap of Summer 2012 at Mason

Cabrera talks with parents of incoming freshman (Photo by Dakota Cunningham)
Cabrera talks with parents of incoming freshman (Photo by Dakota Cunningham)

New President Ángel Cabrera & Rector Daniel Clemente

After Alan Merten’s 15-year tenure as president, a new face will greet students returning this fall as Ángel Cabrera takes the helm of the university.

The Board of Visitors announced the appointment of Cabrera in December but he did not start his new position until the beginning of July.

Cabrera, age 44, will replace Alan Merten who served as president since 1996.

Cabrera has been president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona since 2004, and under his leadership the school has been ranked first in International Business for MBAs. Prior to that position, he was a professor and dean at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, his native country.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Madrid Polytechnic University. He later earned his master’s and doctorate in psychology and cognitive science from Georgia Tech Institute of Technology as a Fulbright Scholar.

The BOV also underwent a change after longtime rector Ernest Volgenau announced his retirement. Daniel Clemente was unanimously elected in July to replace Volgenau. Volgenau had served on the board for eight years, and Clemente was appointed to the 16-member board in 2010.   

The rector is responsible for presiding over all board meetings and attending official functions of the University as a representative of the board.

The BOV sets policies and long-term strategy for the university and is in charge of hiring key staff members. Members are appointed by the governor of Virginia and serve four-year terms on a rotating basis.

Also in the July meeting, Nancy Pfotenhauer, who was appointed in 2010, was elected vice rector and Edward Newberry, appointed 2009, was elected secretary.

Another major personnel change occurred over the summer as Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens announced he would be leaving his position after 15 years at Mason to become president of Newberry College in South Carolina.

As vice president he served as chief operating officer, plays a role in campus development and institutional planning and served as a liaison for local and state government affairs.

Scherrens has taught ethics, graduate-level finance, and strategic decision making courses during his time at Mason. Scherrens’ wife Sandra who currently serves as vice president for University Life will be leaving her position after December.

A search committee has been created to find his replacement. As of now there is not a set time for the final decision to be made, according to Mason Press Secretary Dan Walsch.

New dining options on campus

This summer brought the addition of several new dining options on the Fairfax campus of George Mason.

Among the new restaurants on campus are Red Hot & Blue, Hot Spot and a salad station called Sprouts that can now be found in the Johnson Center.

Hot Spot will be moving from Student Union Building I and will have two lines in its new location for faster service.

Taco Bell will be moving from the Johnson Center and opening a full service facility on the bottom floor of SUB I. Chick-fil-A, also located in SUB I, will be expanded.

Apart from the additions in the Johnson Center and SUB I, University Hall will undergo some changes as well. Panda Express recently opened in University Hall and Einstein Bros Bagels will open this fall. There will also be another Einstein Bros Bagels that will open in the Nguyen Engineering building.

Everlasting Life, an all vegan café, is also scheduled to open in University Hall. The project is still in design and will not open until January 2013. Mason Dining will not run Everlasting Life Café or Panda Express.

Capital One leaving Fairfax campus

After a five-year contract, Capital One left George Mason’s Fairfax campus this summer.

“It was a business decision on their end,” said David Atkins the director for contract management and licensing. “They did not find it possible to maintain their contract.”

Apple Federal Credit Union will replace Capital One’s bank location in the Johnson and is set to open before students move in for the fall semester.

AFCU was created by a group of local Fairfax County Public School educators. In 1956 ten teachers assisted a colleague in purchasing a set of car tires and have since grown the credit union to over 117,000 members. AFCU’s contract will last for five years, and they will have to option to renew in 2017, said Atkins.

Renovations for University Commons come to a close

After six months of renovations University Commons will reopen for students this fall.

“We are pushing as far as we can to finish on time,” said project manager Hieu Tran. “We’ll make that schedule.”

The Commons was originally built in 1986, and according to Tran student housing is renovated every 20 years, indicating that an upgrade in the Commons was pending.

As part of the renovation process, the interiors have received new air conditioning units, electrical plugs and improved cooling. Originally, all laundry facilities were located in Hanover Hall, but now laundry rooms have been added to each floor. Lounge areas have been reduced to make room for the laundry rooms.

Several energy saving renovations were also made. All windows have been replaced, and lighting has been altered to automatically turn off when no one is in the room.

 “We try to make these rooms more efficient,” Tran said.

Hanover Hall is being transformed into a living-learning center with conference and media rooms. Construction on that building, however, will not be finished until September.  

Overall, the project went over budget.

“We ran into a few problems with the utilities,” said Tran. “We are over our budget due to unforeseen utility repairs.”

Construction began early this year after the original occupants were moved to the new Whitetop and Rogers halls between the fall and spring semesters. 

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