The biggest cap-and-gown-clad graduating class in the history of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University walked across the Patriot Center stage last week, in three well-coordinated and enthusiastic convocation ceremonies. Each ceremony featured its own distinguished commencement speaker, a few guests, and of course, a vocal and supportive audience!
The Patriot Center hosted about 2,700 PhD, master’s, and undergraduate students on May 15, 16 and 17, with thousands of family members and friends in attendance. The convocation speakers bestowed upon the students tales from their own experience and life lessons. In addition, the college recognized both faculty and student award winners.
On Wednesday, May 15, a total of 555 graduate students – receiving 71 PhDs and 484 master’s degrees – were honored at the graduate convocation. Among them were 16 students who received a master’s degree in the history of decorative arts, a program in its second year at Mason. Peter Stearns, the university provost, delivered the keynote address and spoke about "research of consequence," noting that the audience of graduate students had already begun to demonstrate keen insight into the world of research.
On Thursday, May 16, in the undergraduate convocation for humanities and interdisciplinary programs, 1,055 students were recognized. The new environmental and sustainability studies major sent 7 students to the stage for its first graduating class. Mara Liasson, political journalist for FOX News and National Public Radio, spoke of the responsibilities awaiting the graduates in the employment world, and also encouraged the students to take on new challenges and adventures.
Finally, on Friday, May 17, the undergraduate convocation for the social sciences saw 1,086 students graduate. Ilryong Moon, chairman and member at large of the School Board for Fairfax County Public Schools, gave a detailed, engaging historical narrative of his background, including his immigration to the United States while in high school, his adventures in adapting to American culture, and his reasons for pursuing a career in public service.
Jack Censer, dean of the college, was recognized in the final convocation season of his Mason career – which has included time as faculty, university committee member, department chair, and dean. Incoming dean Deborah Boehm-Davis asked each of the graduating students to welcome Dean Censer "as an honorary member of your class, the Class of 2013."
"You are here this morning as the result of a lot of hard work, study, diligence, and – we hope – personal growth," Censer told the graduating students. "But keep in mind, Patriots, where you sit right now is not the end of the road. It’s only the starting point of a new journey."
He added, "During my 36 years at Mason, and eight graduations as dean, it has been my privilege to watch students, like you, graduate and move forward."
The student numbers are accurate as of March 22, 2013. Photos by Creative Services, George Mason University.
May 22, 2013