Commencement and new beginnings

Tomorrow morning is Commencement at George Mason University. As in so many previous years, I’ll arrive early at the Institute, don my academic regalia and walk across the campus lawns to the Patriot Center to join the platform party and mark the end of another academic year.

The carnival of academic regalia reflects the diversity of our faculty, my own bears the markings of the University of Michigan where I received my doctorate. But those of us on the faculty, as we enter the arena, will be swamped by the sea of green, as thousands of Mason students prepare to begin the rest of their lives.
In the end, it’s the ability to positively influence the education of thousands of students, that is the core mission of this large public university. Teaching, this past semester, to both undergraduates and doctoral students, I felt energized by this core mission in a way that both invigorates my own efforts here at Mason as an administrator and that gets leveraged into my role as a science leader at this institute for advanced study.
Already, only the seniors are left on Mason’s campus, some 12 miles from the U.S. Capitol Building. After tomorrow, we’ll settle into the summer routine–for administrators, things only gradually begin to wind down–but I already can’t wait for the Fall semester and the challenges that await: working with my graduate students on research, building out Phase II in our expansion project, teaching undergraduate neuroscience and continuing to edit a 100+ year old scientific journal called The Biological Bulletin.
I feel energized by what’s ahead, just as I feel satisfaction in what’s now past. And I continue to consider this, the best job anyone could hope to have.
Jim