George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason Reads Turns the Page to Include More Students and a Focus on Well-Being

September 11, 2014

By Sudha Kamath

Mason Reads, George Mason University’s common read program, is expanding this year with a focus on well-being. The not-your-average book club is asking all freshmen to read the introspective best-seller “How Full Is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton.

Mason’s latest common read has students talking about well-being. Photo Courtesy of Orientation and Family Programs and Services.

Mason’s latest common read has students talking about well-being. Photo courtesy of Orientation and Family Programs and Services.

The university is asking incoming students to read “How Full Is Your Bucket?” together because it helps students see how their actions and attitudes affect those around them. Students also are asked to take the StrengthsFinder assessment, which will help them discover what their greatest strengths and talents are so they can continue to build upon them.

“Our well-being university initiative provides a wide range of resources and experiences inside and outside the classroom for students to explore the many ways they can enhance their own well-being and develop greater resilience to respond to challenges in their lives,” explains Nance Lucas, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Abigail Rubemeyer is a freshman who received a free copy of the book during orientation over the summer. The Honors College student says the book has given her a new perspective as she enters Mason Nation. “Especially coming from Cincinnati, Ohio, and only knowing a few people, it really opened my eyes and prepared me not only to enter a new school, but also the marketing and communications career field,” Rubemeyer says.

The Mason Ambassador is sharing the lessons she’s learning. “I realized that I do fill others buckets,” she says. “However, I could put more effort into [the traits of] ‘shining a light on what is right’ and ‘giving unexpectedly.’ This book could and has changed work environments, people and even universities …. Mason is a community, and if everyone knew how to fill one another’s buckets, I feel it could be that much greater of a university.”

Rubemeyer plans to attend an event with co-author Rath when he speaks on Oct. 28 at Mason’s Center for the Arts.

The offices behind Mason Reads include the Division of University Life‘s Orientation and Family Programs and Services, Off-Campus Student Programs and Services, Housing and Residence Life, Student Involvement and Living Learning Communities. Mason Reads also is being coordinated by the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being and the Center for Academic Advising, Retention, and Transitions.

The books are stacked in favor of Mason Reads this year. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University.

The books are stacked in favor of Mason Reads this year. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Last year, the Mason Reads pilot program kicked off with off-campus freshmen reading “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie. That program was such a page turner, it was expanded this year. “The program enhanced student connections with peers and faculty, and engagement with the book theme throughout campus,” says Sally Lorentson, Orientation and Family Programs and Services director.

During Welcome Back Patriots Week this year, off-campus freshmen attended “Meet and Munch” discussion groups hosted by facilitators to discuss “How Full Is Your Bucket?” at the Johnson Center.

Lauren Wagner of the Office of Admissions served as one of the facilitators. “It’s a simple and yet great idea―bring the wonderful, wide variety of Mason students together with something they’ll all have immediately in common. And then on top of it, make it relate to Mason’s overall mission to watch out for students’ well-being. I was honored to be part of it.”

Related Mason Reads events are being held in residence halls and across campus throughout the fall semester. Also, students in INTO Mason’s undergraduate pathways program will be implementing the book in their English courses.

And as part of a partnership between Mason and Gallup, the StrengthsFinder assessment will be available to students. “They will gain greater insights into their unique strengths, explore novel ways to apply their strengths, and learn how to leverage their strengths in making better decisions about their academic majors, their career paths and in life generally,”  says Pam Patterson, associate vice president, Division of University Life.

She says StrengthsFinder also gives new students a common language about strengths they can use in academic environments, in conversations with advisors and in student organizations.”

Lucas, who is also a professor in New Century College, agrees. “Using the StrengthsFinder assessment, students will be equipped to make better decisions and identify opportunities at Mason where they can do what they’re best at doing every day. This assessment, combined with “How Full Is Your Bucket?” allows us to focus more on what’s right with people and what’s right with organizations.”

Follow the Mason freshmen book banter on Twitter and Facebook.