They lined up in the parking lot of Patriot Center, smiles on their faces and arms wrapped around their friends in celebratory hugs. Mason's class of 2009 was about to receive their degrees from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. United as one, they marched into the Patriot Center on May 15, 2009.
Mason President Alan Merten was in attendance and Associate Dean of Research Matthew Zingraff acknowledged the college's faculty award-winners. "Today's graduates have had the good fortune to earn their degrees with the support of an extraordinary collection of professors," Zingraff said. "We place great emphasis on scholarship and teaching excellence among our faculty."
Former Congressmen Tom Davis was the undergraduate convocation's guest speaker, sharing inspirational anecdotes from his 14 years as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives.
More than 1,300 undergraduate students walked across the stage in the Patriot Center to the applause of their families and friends.
George Mason University Alumni Association President Ted Arnn, a 1993 Mason graduate and Captain with the Fairfax County Police Department, challenged the students to remain engaged as alumni.
"Because we find ourselves in some troubling and uncertain times, I say that today, more than ever, thinkers and idea-makers such as yourselves have become more important," said Censer. "We need your skills in innovation and forward-thinking to help us meet the challenges that lay ahead and help achieve the change and evolution required to overcome these challenges."
The night before, on May 14, 2009, approximately 300 students received master's and doctoral degrees. The celebration was held in the Center for the Performing Arts. Guest speaker was Washington Post columnist, E.J. Dionne.
"As graduate students, you have worked shoulder to shoulder with scholars to become scholars yourselves," Dean Jack Censer said. "You have learned the value of scholarly ideas and seen how to draw meaningful connections between them and the ever-changing world around us."
May 28, 2009