Jack Wood Award Recipients for 2022
Dr. Esperanza Román-Mendoza, Professor of Spanish and Spanish Linguistics, has forged significant Latinx community-university relationships over the past twenty years, including with the Fairfax, D.C., and Arlington school systems’ bilingual and heritage Spanish programs; with Latinx advocacy organizations including The Dream Project, Edu-Futuro, and LaCocinaVA; and through her leadership on the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS)-College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) Curriculum Impact Grant, partnering with Mason and Partner (MAP) Clinics in Prince William and Fairfax Counties, and the Department of Community and Health Services in Alexandria.
Her leadership on the Latinx Task Force in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages provides essential guidance on new Latinx outreach, advocacy, and assessment initiatives.
As the University moves forward with its larger goals of anti-racism and social justice education along the lines of an engaged campus—and expands our engaged commitments to our Latinx community in and outside the university—Dr. Román-Mendoza’s work is a beacon and a model for synergizing university and community efforts.
Micron Technology, Inc. has been a partner and advocate for George Mason University in a variety of capacities. First, Zuzana Steen, Micron’s Academic and Community Relations Director, currently serves as the Chair of the SciTech Advisory Board. Second, Micron works closely with the Volgenau School of Engineering to feed the pipeline of engineers needed at their international corporation. And third, Micron has been a sponsor of the SciTech Robotics Team for the past five years. Their contribution allows the team to purchase robot parts and helps pay for registration and travel to competitions. The team has been invited to the Worlds Competition every year that it’s been held since the team’s creation in 2016, and has brought back different awards from attending these competitions. This year the team was invited to participate at the 2022 VEX World Championship in Dallas, Texas that concludes today. If it were not for Micron, the robotics team would not be able to represent Mason at these international competitions.
Partnership Initiative Category (an initiative created between a Mason entity and an external organization(s) which benefits all entities involved):
Patriot Perks is a partnership between George Mason University departments (comprised of Business Services, Athletics, Human Resources, Mason Card, Center for the Arts, Alumni Relations, and Office of University Branding), the Old Town Fairfax Business Association (OTFBA), the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce (CFCC), and the City of Fairfax Economic Development Office.
The program connects City of Fairfax businesses with the Mason community by helping businesses reach thousands of potential customers; and by offering the Mason community, including students, alumni, faculty, staff, and retirees, valued discounts. Since its inception, more than 100 businesses have signed on to offer exclusive discounts.
In addition, the program has also helped local businesses understand how to offer MasonMoney. The entities have worked together to host Alumni events such as Basketball Watch parties in local restaurants; and Mason also invites Patriot Perks members to the Fairfax Campus to engage with the Mason community at annual events such as SpringFest and College Colors. Jennifer Rose, Executive Director of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and a former Mason adjunct professor in the School of Integrative Studies, coordinated a webinar for merchants to discuss the benefits of the Patriot Perks program. The program is managed and resourced through Mason’s Operations and Business Services Office, with David Atkins, Executive Director of Business Partnerships and Licensing serving as the program’s key administrator. The program is expected to expand discount offerings to 200 by the end of 2023. This program and its leadership are key components in helping to enhance the synergy and town-gown relations between the university and the community.
Specialty Award for Legacy (The Legacy award recognizes leadership achievement in town-gown relations over a period of time longer than five years):
John Tilghman “Til” Hazel Jr. was a visionary real estate lawyer and developer who recognized the impact George Mason University could have as the anchor for the region. He cleared the way for the university’s emergence by working with officials to secure 421 acres for the Fairfax Campus. He was also the driving force behind Mason acquiring a law school in the 1970s.
In service to the university almost since its inception in 1957, Til Hazel has been a chief philanthropist, patron, cheerleader, and champion of the university both locally and at the General Assembly in Richmond.
Til Hazel’s most influential work on behalf of the university took place behind the scenes. He mobilized the Northern Virginia business community to support and work with the university, creating a symbiotic relationship between Mason and the region’s business interests that exists to this day.
Til Hazel engaged in a years-long tussle in Richmond lobbying for the university to be permitted to create a law school and ultimately brokered a deal between the university and the financially strapped International School of Law in Arlington—with Til Hazel co-signing the $3 million note that also netted real estate near the Metro in Arlington, laying the foundation in 1979 for what would become Mason’s Arlington Campus.
In addition, in the mid-90s Til Hazel founded the Virginia Business Higher Education Council to bring together the state’s business leaders and university presidents to oppose state budget cuts to higher education.
Til Hazel was truly a leader in town-gown relations. He died March 15 of this year at the age of 91.
Congratulations to all our award recipients. We greatly appreciate your leadership in strengthening the relationships between the university and the communities we serve.