Mason Confers 3,934 Degrees at Winter Graduation

Posted: December 19, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: January 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm

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By Robin Herron

winter graduation

Photo by Alexis Glenn

More than 1,500 happy grads, along with their families and friends, turned out on Dec. 19 to participate in George Mason University’s Winter Graduation at the Patriot Center. They were among the 3,934 graduates receiving their degrees this winter.

George Mason President Ángel Cabrera opened the ceremony by talking about the characteristics of the Mason Graduate, which are outlined in the university’s vision adopted earlier this year.

“A Mason Graduate is distinctive. A Mason Graduate is an engaged citizen, a citizen who is ethically oriented and committed to democratic ideals,” Cabrera said. “A citizen who is respectful of individual differences, rights, and liberties. That means that we are able to listen to one another, and if we disagree, we are still respectful of one another’s opinions.”

Cabrera also spoke about the importance of lifelong learning, telling graduates, “To be truly free you can never stop learning.”

The president noted that of the graduates receiving degrees this winter—about 100 more than the same time last year—2, 388 are bachelor’s degrees,1,395 are master’s or professional degrees and 151 are doctoral degrees.

Israeli-American businesswoman Shari Arison, owner of the Arison Group, a global business and philanthropic enterprise, was the graduation speaker. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree presented by Board of Visitors member Karen Alcade, BIS ’84, JD ’87.

Arison began her speech by saying, “All of you graduates here today have worked very hard to set the foundations of your future. But is it enough to be successful? And is it enough to yield only financial results?”

She then went on to talk about taking responsibility for one’s actions and making a positive impact in the world, points that align closely with the university’s vision.

Arison, who established an endowment at George Mason for the Arison Group Endowed Professor of Doing Good Values in Mason’s New Century College, spoke about her Doing Good philosophy.

“As I see it, we all share a common stake in our collective future, and each and every one of us can take an active part in making a difference,” she said.

She pointed out that business “is a powerful platform for positive action,” noting that it impacts people, society and the planet. The Arison Group, for example, places values at the core of each of its business entities and philanthropic endeavors, she said. She calls this the Doing Good Values Model. Among the values are financial freedom, sustainability and volunteering. Her company helps implement the volunteering value by sponsoring Good Deeds Day in March each year.

She concluded her remarks by saying, “So I challenge you to think not only of your future success, but to think of succeeding with a moral compass in your heart, and a state of mind of win-win, where everyone becomes winners.

“Some may say this is not possible, but I am here today to tell you that it is possible,” she said. “Anything is possible when you put your mind and heart to it, and do it in a positive way.”

[Read the full text of Arison’s speech and see the video here: http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2013/12/graduation-speaker-says-anything-possible/]

Rodney W. Turner, JD ’93, president of the George Mason University Alumni Association, also addressed the graduates. He urged them to remain connected with their alma mater.

“Whether it is coming back to attend Homecoming next February and Alumni Weekend next fall, seeking out leadership opportunities in your alumni association chapter, becoming an advocate for Mason, or simply showing your Patriot Pride for all to see, your contributions as an alumnus are important to Mason’s success,” he said.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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