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Mason Tops U.S. News List of Universities to Watch

Reprinted from the Mason Gazette, August 22, 2008.

By Dave Andrews and Tara Laskowski

Mason was named the nation's number one university to watch on U.S. News and World Report's new list of "Up-and-Coming Schools" published on Friday, Aug. 22.

The list, comprising 70 colleges and universities across the country, identifies "schools that have recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus or facilities."

In its annual peer assessment survey, U.S. News asked education experts to identify schools that met those criteria. This is the first time a list of up-and-coming schools has been created.

"Being recognized by U.S. News & World Report for this is both an honor and validation of our efforts," says Mason President Alan Merten. "This acknowledgment is something that every one of our faculty, staff, students and alumni should be proud of."

Celebrating its 37th anniversary in 2009, Mason has strong academic and research programs, which concentrate on producing successful students and accomplished alumni with a global focus.

In the past three years, Mason has added 27 degree programs, including undergraduate degrees in global and environmental change, and film and video studies.

The university also partnered with the Smithsonian Institution in fall 2007 to create the Smithsonian Semester, which allows students to live on-site at the Conservation and Research Center of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and study global-scale conservation issues and civic concerns.

The university has a reputation for forward-thinking academic offerings. In the 1980s, Mason established the first engineering school in the country to focus on information technology to meet the workforce needs of an emerging high-tech economy.

The university also boasts some of the most cutting-edge research in the biosciences, from cancer research to thwarting biological weapons.

Its new biomedical research laboratory is one of 13 nationwide being built with the help of a $25 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The university's students are innovators as well. From discovering new galaxies to lobbying legislators on policy issues, Mason students have success in all areas.

Mason has one of the strongest undergraduate research programs, and students regularly publish research that contributes to the knowledge of their field. The school has produced acclaimed authors, popular television personalities, celebrated Olympic athletes and renowned scientists.

Mason is a young university that continues to grow. The school is in the midst of its largest structural transformation ever, investing more than $500 million in construction between 2002 and 2013.

Highlights include multiple new academic buildings, an on-campus hotel and conference center and what will soon be one of the largest academic, residential communities in Virginia.

"For universities or colleges to achieve and maintain excellence, it is imperative that they continually seek ways to be innovative, enhance their academic programs and upgrade their facilities," says Provost Peter Stearns.

"This strategy has allowed our faculty to pursue their research, and students to achieve their educational goals."