George Mason University

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Honoring excellence at Mason’s 50th Commencement

May 16, 2017   /   by Preston Williams

The class of 2016

2016 Commencement. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

George Mason University will mark its 50th annual Commencement in style on Saturday by honoring a diverse graduating class of more than 8,700, saluting faculty members with four new endowed awards and welcoming as speaker a journalist whose leadership has been documented in an Oscar-winning film.

The ceremony, at EagleBank Arena on the Fairfax Campus, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. Doors open at 9 a.m. for guests.

The featured speaker, Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron, has overseen newsrooms that have won 12 Pulitzer Prizes, one the focus of “Spotlight,” the Best Picture winner at the 2016 Academy Awards.

This year the university will begin a Commencement tradition of handing out four endowed awards to celebrate faculty achievement. President Ángel Cabrera will present the John Toups Medal for Excellence in Teaching, the Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship, the Earle C. Williams Medal for Excellence in Social Impact, and the Karen and Hector Alcalde Medal for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion.

Mason alumnus Jimmy Hazel, who for more than 30 years has served on a variety of George Mason boards and in many other leadership and philanthropic capacities, will receive the Mason Medal, the university’s highest honor.

Graduates in the Class of 2017 hail from 76 countries, 43 states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-five percent of bachelor’s degree earners will be the first member of their family to earn a degree from a four-year university, according to students reporting parental education level.

Twenty-five percent of undergraduates and 28 percent of advanced degree recipients will earn degrees in STEM fields.

The top five majors for the more than 5,400 undergraduates are psychology; criminology, law and society; biology; information technology; and accounting.

The top five majors for the 2,800 master’s candidates are curriculum and instruction, special education, education leadership, public administration and public policy.

The top five majors for the more than 300 doctorate candidates are education; economics; psychology; earth systems and geoinformation science; and conflict analysis and resolution.

Get more details about the commencement ceremony and degree celebrations here and read about some members of this year’s graduating class here.

Topics: Graduation