When Milt and Carolyn Peterson began contemplating their largest gift ever to George Mason University, to support the construction of a new home for the College of Health and Human Services, they knew it should be a family decision.
“We thought it would be a great investment, so we sat down and talked with the family members,” said the couple’s son, Jon Peterson, who is also the vice rector of the university’s Board of Visitors.
“We all said, ‘well, it’s hard to get a better return on investment than helping the future of education,’ especially in health and human services, which is one of the fastest growing parts of the university,” Peterson explained.
His remarks came at the May 3 public dedication of Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall, the newest and largest building on the Fairfax Campus. The 165,000-square-foot facility, which opened in January, came to fruition thanks to a landmark $8 million gift from the Peterson family, and important contributions from many other supporters of the college. Seventeen other named gifts are honored in the building’s classrooms, instructional facilities, study areas, and community spaces. These private contributions supplemented $62 million in state funding for construction.
“What you see here today is what can happen when the state, our community and this university work together to advance the opportunities for our students and faculty and, at the same time, lift our region in the growing bio-health industry,” said the university’s rector, Tom Davis.
The new building, and the gifts supporting it, are already making a substantial impact in elevating the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) as a leader in its field. With more than 2,700 students and 140 faculty and staff, CHHS educates one-third of Northern Virginia’s nurses, along with public health specialists, social workers, and those involved in health care policy, rehabilitation, and nutrition sciences.
“The research that happens here and the professionals that are trained every day in this facility will have a very direct impact on the quality of all our lives,” said Mason President Ángel Cabrera.
“This is an incredible building. Its presence exemplifies the great teaching, research, service and practice that occurs here at the College of Health and Human Services,” added the college’s dean, Germaine Louis. “The commitment to this mission is palpable among our faculty and staff. … It’s no mystery, once you’ve had an opportunity to see and experience this space, to know that great things are going to come, and happen, in this college.”
“George Mason has meant so much to our family over the years,” said Jon Peterson, who is the CEO of Peterson Companies, the real estate company founded by his father Milt in 1965. “I actually grew up two miles down the road. And I’ve seen this campus grow from four buildings to what it is now—one of the top research universities in the country, and the largest in the state.”
“Everyone who is here has a role in making George Mason what it is today, and will be in the future. Thank you, and we’re so proud to help to build this community.”
May 9, 2018 / RR