Through coordination and care, Mason has been able to adapt in the face of the ongoing pandemic. We partnered with local and state health departments to offer vaccination clinics at our Fairfax and Science and Technology Campuses, but we didn’t stop there. We went into the community with mobile vaccination clinics, reaching out to individuals in need.
Our campus community’s commitment to public health allowed us to have in-person graduation ceremonies in spring 2021. We were able to invite more than 1,800 graduates from the class of 2020 and their guests, honoring a promise made by the university to provide in-person ceremonies once it was safe to do so.
When campuses reopened in fall 2021 for in-person, hybrid, and remote classes, many in our workforce came back to our campuses, though many had never left. We provided flexible work options to staff. We figured out new ways to teach, meet, and innovate.
MASON PROFESSOR TYLER COWEN, RANKED AS ONE OF THE TOP 20 MOST INFLUENTIAL ECONOMISTS IN THE WORLD, started the Emergent Ventures Fast Grants program to incentivize the fight against COVID-19. It led to, among other things, the development of a saliva-based COVID test that was pivotal in the NBA’s successful bubble strategy for the 2020 basketball season. The program received substantial donations from Mackenzie Scott and an anonymous donor from the New York City financial community. In total, Fast Grants has distributed $54 million via more than 200 grants, and the funds are usually distributed within 14 days of applications being received. “The more quickly we can help researchers in the fight against COVID-19, the better off the whole world will be,” Cowen says.
PROVIDING EMERGENCY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO STUDENTS
When Mason pivoted to remote learning in spring 2020, some students struggled with inadequate computers or Wi-Fi connections, lost jobs, or caring for family while taking classes. The Student Emergency Assistance Fund provided an immediate response to financially assist these students. As one student put it, “This opportunity has given me a sense of security and has put my mind at ease. I am so grateful that I can continue to pay my bills during this trying time, and that my academic success here at Mason will not be affected due to the virus.”
ENSURING COMMUNITY HEALTH THROUGH MOBILE VACCINE CLINICS
Mason has vaccinated more than 110,000 people both at its campus vaccination clinics and at its Mason and Partners (MAP) and mobile clinics, in partnership with local and state health departments. “It feels so good to be able to provide hope,” Julie Zobel, Mason’s associate vice president for Safety, Emergency and Enterprise Risk Management, said in February 2021 as the first vaccine doses were administered at EagleBank Arena. Mason continued to deliver on its commitment to community health by visiting areas in need with our mobile vaccine clinics.