Mason president Dr. Gregory Washington with CACI CEO John Mengucci (second from left), John Patton (third from right), University Life Advisory Board members, and CACI executives.
Friends and colleagues of the late Paul Patton (USAF Ret. Col.) gathered at George Mason University on February 9 to recognize his contributions to Mason, to his country, and to his longtime employer, CACI.
Patton, who died in October at the age of 79, made a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of students at Mason through his years of service on the University Life Advisory Board, and in other roles. Patton’s wife, Gwen, equally admired for her commitment to community service, passed away in November, shortly after her husband.
To honor their legacy, the University Life Advisory Board has established the Paul and Gwen Patton Memorial Scholarship Endowment to provide a scholarship each year for a student who graduates from Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP), which helps prepare first-generation students for success in college. The endowment has been bolstered with a gift of $25,000 from CACI, supplementing generous gifts from Patton’s friends and colleagues, including advisory board members Jim Green and Annie Bolger, who launched the fund.
Through his work with University Life and EIP, Paul Patton was a mentor to Mason students, a relationship-builder, an energetic fundraiser, and an enthusiastic advocate and friend-raiser for Mason.
“Paul was fiercely committed to our students. He was also the kind of person you just wanted to be around. Paul simply exuded the sort of kindness and energy that you walked away feeling good about,” said Rose Pascarell, vice president for university life at Mason.
After earning an electrical engineering degree and an ROTC commission at the University of Pittsburgh, Patton served for 27 years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Following his military retirement, he worked for more than 20 years as a senior vice president at CACI, the defense and technology contractor now headquartered in Reston, Va. He led the company’s Secretary of Defense Executive Fellows program for military officers, and guided many diversity and inclusion initiatives.
CACI and Mason have enjoyed a long and productive relationship. The company is a dedicated sponsor of the College of Engineering and Computing, and at least 20 Mason students intern each year at CACI, which also employs hundreds of Mason graduates.
“Paul was a great ambassador for CACI and a consummate professional,” said CACI president and CEO John Mengucci, recalling that Patton was the sort of leader who made a point to speak with each person in the office as he walked down the halls. “To know Paul was to love and respect him. He created that bond with you, and made sure that it was a two-way trust. A great listener, a hardworking gentleman, who did something because it was the right thing to do—not for recognition.”
Wednesday’s event was also attended by the Pattons’ son, psychologist John Patton. “I was blessed with sensational parents,” John Patton said. “I flourish based on what I learned from them; when I flounder it’s probably because I lost focus on what they were teaching me.”
“I want to personally thank CACI and George Mason for providing a platform for this scholarship endowment,” he added. “This honestly is one of the first rays of sunshine for me since my parents passed, because this really begins a legacy for them, and an opportunity for us to help that next generation move forward.”
—Rob Riordan, Feb. 10, 2022