Cabrera will present Mason's vision next year to the BOV

Cabrera is currently on a "listening tour" to get ideas from the Mason community on the vision of the university (Photo by Dakota Cunningham).
Cabrera is currently on a "listening tour" to get ideas from the Mason community on the vision of the university (Photo by Dakota Cunningham).

He is not running for political office, but George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera has been on what he calls a “listening tour.” He has been meeting with students, faculty, staff and alumni to try and form a vision for the “next chapter” of Mason.

Cabrera sent an email to the university community in October saying that the Board of Visitors has given him the task of creating a “new strategic vision for the university in collaboration with the faculty and key internal and external stakeholders.” In the email, Cabrera said he foresees the vision to be a one-page document that will be the basis for a new academic strategic plan and comprehensive campaign.

Before taking the helm at Mason, Cabrera was president of Thunderbird School of Global Management. He served in that position from 2004 to spring of 2012.

I don’t know yet,” is what Cabrera told the BOV when they originally asked him what his plans were for Mason.

While Cabrera said his “16 bosses” were at first surprised, they soon understood his reasoning for having no answer, and they agreed with his plan.

His plan was that through the “listening tour,” the question would change from “what is YOUR plan for the university” to “what are OUR plans for the university?” Therefore, the vision would be formed by hearing from everyone in the Mason community—it would not be just his vision.

The process of building Mason’s vision will include the creation of a set of committees.

“The committees themselves are charged with reaching out to other constituencies to get ideas,” said Cabrera.

According to Cabrera, the committees will be made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni and board members. The hope, Cabrera said, is for people affiliated with the university to send letters and emails with ideas about the future of Mason to the members of the committees.

Cabrera said there has been already been some clear trends in what people are telling him.

The trends include concerns over higher tuition for students because of a decrease in funding from the state, the role of technology in improving the experience for students on campus, as well as how Mason can increase funding for research, how its research can have a real impact on society and how to ensure students are getting exposed to what is going on outside of the United States.

Cabrera will present the final vision for the university to the BOV in March 2013, and according to the email, his one-page document will outline the following four components:

  • a mission statement,
  • a set of values describing “The Mason Way of doing things,”
  • a profile of what should be seen in Mason programs and graduates called “The Mason Graduate
  • and a set of commitments for the next decade.

“Innovation is tradition” is Mason’s current slogan, but, according to Cabrera, this phrase is not Mason’s mission statement, and, therefore, the new vision does not include changing the slogan. Instead the slogan fits into Mason’s set of values that will be written about in the final vision presented in March.

“The mission statement has to be a very succinct sentence that tells us this is who we are and why we do what we do,” Cabrera said. “It has to be something that we can all remember. Right now we have a great vision statement that no one knows.”

One thing that is clear is that the “next chapter” of Mason will include many new faces on the administration level, because of the large number of departures and retirements early this fall and over the summer. Some of the administrators who left include Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens, Rector Ernest Volgenau, Vice President for University Life Sandy Scherrens, Vice President for University Relations Christine LaPaille and Dean Lloyd Griffiths of the Volgenau School of Engineering.

According to Cabrera’s email, a website is being formed that will post updates from the committees and will allow people to participate in the vision building process. 

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