President’s Blog

Realignment? Misalignment? Reshuffling?

Posted: November 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

All this talk about athletic conference realignments reminds me of M. C. Escher’s Waterfall lithograph, where water flows down through a series of canals to end up in the same place.  Every university hopes to move up to a better, more reputed, more distinguished club. They leave partners behind for new ones, leaving spaces in […]

The Mission of the University according to Ortega

Posted: November 23, 2012 at 6:59 am

A Mason colleague recently directed me to Spanish, 20th Century philosopher Ortega’s essay on the mission of the university (José Ortega y Gasset, 1931, Misión de la Universidad, pdf in Spanish). The text is indeed priceless and very pertinent for our ongoing task to craft a new mission statement for the university.  It raises questions […]

The best university FOR the world

Posted: November 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Prof. Tom Lovejoy recently reminded me of the conversation we had over lunch at Barra de Tijuca in Rio last summer, during the Rio+20 U.N. Conference, right before I joined Mason and before he received the prestigious Blue Planet Prize: The university should not strive to be the best in the world, but the best for […]

Why we have (public) universities

Posted: November 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm, Last Updated: November 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm

As we continue the work of producing a new vision for the university, I was reminded of Louis Menand’s piece in The New Yorker: Why we have college. There are at least three (mostly implicit) theories that shape our narratives about the purpose of universities. Meritocratic theory: College is a four-year long intelligence test, a […]

The social contract of publc higher education

Posted: November 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm, Last Updated: November 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

By Ángel Cabrera and Callie LeRenard Let me add more color to my commentary last week about the public disinvestment in higher education. Though not a perfect public good, higher education creates many positive externalities that benefit society at large. Whether or not you are the one going to college (and therefore the one personally […]

This time around, the prospect of change may be real

Posted: November 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm

My introduction to the Forum on the Future of Higher Education (better known for its trending hashtag #masonfuture) is provided in the video above (fast forward to around min 5′). Here’s the short version. Every generation before us has felt that higher education was on the brink of a revolution.  This time around though, it […]

#masonfuture trends

Posted: November 4, 2012 at 7:30 am, Last Updated: November 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

It was terrific to see the hashtag for the Future of Higher Ed forum, #masonfuture, atop the global twittersphere totem pole Friday evening (it trended worldwide for at least one hour!). On Saturday it just couldn’t compete with European soccer, American college football, Formula 1 or the U.S. presidential campaign.  But it still topped the […]

Commencement address – Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:27 am, Last Updated: October 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

On June 22nd, before I arrived to Mason, I had the honor of delivering the commencement speech in my alma mater, the School of Telecommunication Engineering of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.  Until now I had not had the chance to post it, so with only 4 months of delay, here it goes. First, the video […]

Value of a college degree in Virginia

Posted: October 12, 2012 at 9:20 am, Last Updated: October 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

I posted earlier some data from SCHEV indicating variations in earnings of graduates from different Virginia universities. These data, as SCHEV itself recognizes, have some methodological limitations.  But they at least provide a broad picture of monetary value of a degree for a graduate of our universities (and I need to emphasize that there many other forms of value that […]

Message from the President

Posted: October 10, 2012 at 10:36 am, Last Updated: October 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

Dear Colleague, On August 17, 2012, the Board of Visitors adopted a resolution that charged me with the creation of a new Strategic Vision for the University in collaboration with the faculty and key internal and external stakeholders.  The new Vision will be the basis for a new academic strategic plan and a new comprehensive […]