Men’s wrestling head coach Frank Beasley speaking on behalf of faculty and staff at the reception. / Photos by Christopher Bobo
Generosity and gratitude were on display at the annual Faculty and Staff Donor Appreciation Reception, held January 23 in the Linda Apple Monson Grand Tier at the Center for the Arts. This annual tradition recognizes and honors the nearly 1,000 faculty and staff who also donate to support university needs such as student scholarships, the arts, athletics, and academic programs.
“As ambassadors for Mason, you share with the others the importance of what we do,” Interim President Anne Holton told the guests. “And because you give your own personal gift first, it makes you that much stronger as an ambassador.”
The dedication of one staff couple in attendance, John and Tammy Hanks, exemplifies the spirit of the Mason ambassador. John, a network engineer for Information Technology Services, has worked at Mason since 1981, and received his degree in electrical engineering here in 1990. His wife Tammy, an administrative assistant with Facilities, is a relative newcomer, having been at Mason only since 1995. The couple’s daughter, Christina, received her MEd from Mason in 2015, playing tuba with the Green Machine while studying for her master’s.
Enthusiastic fans of Mason music, the Hankses have pioneered a unique way to contribute. For the past decade, at every men’s basketball game and some women’s games, the two have manned a table in the EagleBank Arena concourse, handing out swag such as scarves and Doc Nix plushies to raise money for the Green Machine. The couple pays the cost of the merchandise themselves, then donates the proceeds raised—all in addition to their own generous annual gift.
Coincidentally, due to the combination of her first initial and last name, Tammy Hanks owns perhaps the best email address on campus: “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Considering all that she and John have done for George Mason, nothing could better epitomize the spirit of the evening.
Speaking at the reception on behalf of faculty and staff givers, men’s wrestling head coach Frank Beasley shared the stories of two student-athletes whose education was made possible by support for endowed scholarships. One, Ibrahim Bunduka, graduated in 2018 with a degree in Engineering. Born in Sierra Leone, Bunduka was forced to flee that country as a child due to its civil war. The second, Matt Voss, who graduated in 2019 with a degree in Communication, became a two-time university All-American and an academic All-American as a heavyweight wrestler. “Neither of these young men would have been able to come to Mason and graduate here if not for that scholarship support,” Beasley said.
Emphasizing that point, Vice President of Advancement and Alumni Relations Trishana Bowden told the guests: “Your gift, when it reaches the right student, can change their world, change their family’s world. Never doubt the impact of philanthropy, of your generosity, every day, on what we do.”
Reception guests enjoyed music from a Mason Music Productions trio consisting of pianist Thomas Mirus, a graduate student in Jazz Studies, saxophonist Emma Pivetta, an undergraduate Jazz Studies major, and bassist John Wehmeyer, a graduate music education student. As they departed, each attendee received a snug Mason green and gold scarf as a thank-you gift.
Rob Riordan / January 27, 2020
Gifts to support the university are made via the George Mason University Foundation, and can be designated to whatever purpose or cause the donor wishes, such as a specific scholarship fund, department, or program. Faculty and staff who wish to join their colleagues in giving can do so conveniently through payroll deductions, as well as through any standard giving mechanism.