George Mason Means Business and now Basketball



George Mason University A dozen years ago Your Business Blogger went school shopping.

To buy an MBA. Living in Northern Virginia, we were considering one of the three local Georges — Washington, ‘Town, Mason.

We were budgeting north of 40K. Self pay. So I was really, really interested in the cost.

So I ask GW, “How much?”

“Around $42,000 or so.”

“Or so? So what does that mean?” I wondered.

“It might be a bit more.” Said the major university big time recruiter smarty pants.

I was a sales manager at the time. I turned on the huffy sales manager voice, “Can you tell me the number it will cost me. The number I need to budget.”

“We don’t have the exact number,” says the GWU MBA seat seller.

I pause. Why would I buy an MBA from a business school that can’t even forecast their own costs? And they’re supposed to teach me this stuff?

I would have thought this unusual. But Georgetown said the same thing.

So I go visit Peggy at George Mason. She had the exact cost. No hidden charges. I like her. I bought a seat. Two years later, another consultant is set loose on the world.

George Mason had long been known for two things.

1) Favorable mentions by Tom Clancy in his books. And,

2) A university with a conservative flavor. Walter Williams et. al.

Now GMU is in the NCAA final four. Set to beat Florida Saturday nite.

Which creates a business opportunity. Alan Merten, the GMU president is scrambling to take advantage in the serge of applications that follow winning basketball teams.

“A target rich opportunity,” says Merten.

You can bet Mason will get the business branding of higher education right.

Mason can do the numbers. George Mason knows how to do business. Now basketball scores. Increased enrollment numbers are next.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

We should be hearing from Professor Starling Hunter, at The Business of America is Business. He teaches in the United Arab Emirates. George Mason has 31 students in an extension campus there. The UAE has Patriot fever, I understand.

My church pastor, David Wayne, the JollyBlogger, is a Gator guy. Can’t wait for Sunday’s sermon.

The Happy Booker has more.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

Jollyblogger is on the other side.

Alan G. Merten

The reputation of George Mason University as a progressive, innovative institution of higher learning has continued to gain in strength and scope under the presidency of Dr. Alan G. Merten. Since being named as the university’s fifth president in March 1996, George Mason University has gained national and international acclaim for a number of significant initiatives and achievements ranging from the launching of its first-ever capital campaign and becoming the first university to host the World Congress on Information Technology to being named among the “most wired” universities in the United States and dramatically increasing its basic and applied research activities.

During Dr. Merten’s tenure as Mason’s chief executive officer, the university has become the fastest growing university in Virginia, with student enrollment climbing from 24,000 in 1996 to over 29,000 today. The quality of George Mason’s students at all levels has increased dramatically during this time. Coinciding with this growth is the emergence of George Mason University as a vital center of cultural, academic, and athletic activity for the entire Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. region. As a result of the university’s outreach efforts, an estimated three million people visit Mason’s campuses each year to attend and participate in a range of events and activities, including lectures, conferences, sports competitions, concerts, recitals, and theatrical productions.

George Mason University is also the only institution of higher learning in Virginia with two Nobel Laureates on its faculty. Dr. James Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986. In 2002, Dr. Vernon Smith, professor of economics and law, was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Building on its strengths in the information sciences and the performing arts, the university has recently developed innovative teaching and research programs in the humanities, public policy, and the biological sciences. George Mason is presently immersed in a far-reaching building program that is unprecedented among academic institutions. A campus will be opened in the United Arab Emirates in 2006.

Most recently, Dr. Merten led the university in a celebration of the success of its first capital campaign. Mason exceeded its initial goal of $110 million by raising $142 million.

Prior to coming to George Mason University, Dr. Merten was the dean and professor of information systems at the Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University from 1989 to1996. He was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Florida from 1986-1989, where he also served as a professor of information systems. From 1970 to 1986, he was at the University of Michigan, first as an assistant professor of industrial and operations engineering. During his tenure there, Dr. Merten rose to the rank of associate dean in the School of Business Administration where he was responsible for executive education and computing services.

Dr. Merten has held academic appointments in both engineering and business, and academic and business positions in Hungary and France.

Throughout his career, he has served on business and government councils and committees, holding several leadership roles. Dr. Merten was chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Center for Innovative Technology, INOVA Health Systems, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an information technology company, and a mutual fund trust. Dr. Merten was a member of the Virginia Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.

He has been recognized for his contributions to the Northern Virginia technology community, and as a leader of the Greater Washington, D.C. business community. He has also been recognized for promoting volunteerism and service to the community, and for his contributions to the use of information technology in the federal government.

Dr. Merten has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. degree in computer science from Wisconsin.

He and his wife, Sally, have two children, Eric and Melissa.


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