Twelve months ago, friends and supporters of George Mason University gathered for the public launch of the Faster Farther campaign, setting the ambitious goal of raising $500 million to advance Mason. On Saturday, September 10, many of those same supporters, bolstered by new friends of Mason as well, gathered for an end-of-summer barbecue to celebrate progress made in the past year.
There was much to celebrate. Having raised a record $97 million in the past fiscal year, with gifts from more than 12,000 individuals and organizations, the university has now reached 92 percent of its half-billion-dollar campaign goal, reported campaign chair Jimmy Hazel, JD ’84.
Hazel and his wife Sally co-hosted the barbecue along with Til and Anne Hazel at the Hazel farm in pastoral Broad Run, Virginia. The 150 or so assembled guests enjoyed classic barbecue fare, from pulled pork and pulled beef to potato salad and dessert treats, while fending off unseasonably warm temperatures with copious cups of iced lemonade and sweet tea.
While the financial figures reported are impressive, the real focus of the afternoon was something else: the value of education, the power of philanthropy, and the achievements of the Mason Nation.
Those themes were encapsulated in the performance of the Green Machine, Mason’s award-winning ensemble that has been named the #1 pep band in the nation by the NCAA. Nearly 300 students from many different majors are part of the Green Machine, with more than 50 playing at Saturday’s event. With a repertoire ranging from The Jackson Five to Jay Z, from Aretha Franklin to Aerosmith, the team energized guests with a high-intensity performance that included not just the traditional brass, woodwinds, and drum sections, but strings, electric harp, synthesizer, rappers and vocalists.
Led by the irrepressible Doc Nix, who moonlights 9 to 5 as Dr. Michael Nickens, associate professor of music and Mason’s 2016 Faculty Member of the Year, the students of the Green Machine rely on a mix of scholarships, financial aid, and philanthropic support to produce their spirited performances, which are a vital part of their educational experience at Mason. These students represent just one of many, many examples of how gifts to Mason as part of the Faster Farther campaign resonate loudly across our campuses and around the region.
Watch a sample of a past Green Machine performance below.
September 13, 2016 / RR