News at Mason
George Mason Unveils Alan and Sally Merten Hall
June 23, 2014
By Preston Williams
On Monday, George Mason University dedicated Alan and Sally Merten Hall in a building renaming ceremony attended by hundreds of members of the Mason community and several integral figures from the university’s history.
Alan Merten was Mason’s fifth president, serving from 1996 to 2012. Merten Hall is the new name for what formerly was called University Hall, one of many structures erected during the Mertens’ dynamic 16-year tenure.
“When I travel around the region, the country or the world and people ask me what I’m most proud of with respect to what’s happened at George Mason,” Alan Merten told the attendees, “the answer is always I’m proud of the pride that people have in this institution as a result of what we’ve all done.
“What kept me going—what keeps us all going—is stamina, passion and a caring attitude. That’s what got George Mason going. That’s what will keep George Mason going,” Merten added before exiting to a standing ovation at the outdoor ceremony on the grounds outside Merten Hall.
Merten’s successor as Mason president, Ángel Cabrera, hailed the Mertens’ leadership of making “one smart decision at a time” and said that renaming the building in their honor was symbolic of their many contributions to the university.
“It is a reminder of how much these two individuals gave of their time tirelessly and how they helped George Mason be what it is today,” said Cabrera, whose office has been relocated to Merten Hall, on the north end of the Fairfax Campus.
Two guests in particular added historical insight to the Mertens’ tenure. Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, who taught at the university in the late 1970s, and the former Board of Visitors rector, Edwin Meese III, cited the joint efforts of the Mertens as crucial to the university’s growth, not only in size and enrollment but in stature as the largest public research university in the state.
“It’s become one of the great universities in the commonwealth and one of the great universities in our country and it’s all because of the great work—and they work as a team—Alan and Sally have done,” Wolf said.
Meese’s first year on the Board of Visitors coincided with the Mertens’ first year in office. They built a strong partnership.
“It is said that a great institution is the length and shadow of its leadership,” said Meese, the former attorney general under Ronald Reagan. “And that’s certainly true in this case….The beneficial shadow of your leadership is now permanently inscribed in the form of this building. You’ve made [the university] the knowledge and cultural centerpiece of Northern Virginia.”
The current Board of Visitors rector, C. Daniel Clemente, read aloud the board resolution that formally proposed renaming the building Alan and Sally Merten Hall.
The Mertens remain active on campus and serve in a variety of roles for the university. They have endowed four scholarships.