Following the announcement of the retirement of current president Alan Merten, the Board of Visitors created a task force to fill the vacancy, which has resulted in Ángel Cabrera, 44, becoming the sixth president of George Mason University. Cabrera will officially take office following Merten’s retirement effective June 30.

by Stephen Kline

The process of finding a new president was not easy, said Board of Visitors and Presidential Task Force member Lovey Hammel.

According to Hammel, Mason utilized the national search company Greenwood/ Asher & Associates to aid in the search for a new president. The task force decided what they wanted in a new candidate — such as innovation and a drive to improve the university — and then gave their specifications to the company. The task force then had to search through hundreds of potential candidates, and presented the best picks to the Board of Visitors.

It should be noted that the task force does not select the president.

“The Board of Visitors decides,” Hammel said. “The task force goes through the candidates and presents the Board of Visitors with options.”

An oddity in this selection process is that the candidates were anonymous through the entire process, and even the Faculty Senate was not aware of the identity of the candidates, which caused tension among some members at the Dec. 9 meeting. Faculty Senate members claimed that the anonymity of the candidates contradicted rules in the faculty handbook.

The anonymity of the candidates was an oddity because in past Mason presidential elections, including Merten’s own in 1996, the candidates were known to the community and professors.

At the Dec. 9 meeting, Linda Monson and June Tangney, two members of the task force, told members of the Faculty Senate that Mason granted secrecy to this election to protect the jobs of some of the possible candidates. Monson declined to comment when Broadside reached out in an email.

After the Dec. 9 meeting, the Board of Visitors decided to elect Cabrera as the sixth president of George Mason University, and he was officially sworn in on Dec. 15.

Cabrera is the president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and received a B.S. from Madrid Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology which he attended as a Fulbright scholar.

In 2002, The World Economic Forum named Cabrera a “Global Leader for Tomorrow,” and two years later, he was named by BusinessWeek as one of the 25 stars of Europe.

Later, in 2007, the United Nations asked Cabrera to chair an international that formed the “Principles for Responsible Management Education.”

Cabrera commented on the fact that members of Mason’s administration are leaving in the coming year.

“I do hope not everyone leaves at once,” Cabrera said.

He added that he considers his staff to be a big part of how he runs a university.

“Being a president is like being a CEO of a company, but it’s different in many ways,” Cabrera said, commenting on his mindset as a university president.

At the ceremony on Dec. 15, Cabrera was also reminded of the shoes that he has to fill. Since Merten took office in 1996, Mason has increased enrollment from 24,000 to 33,000 students and has tripled the number of freshmen.  I

n addition, the average GPA of accepted Mason students has risen from 2.89 to 3.65.

Cabrera wants to improve recognition of the Mason brand, and said the best way to do that is through the accomplishments of faculty and students.

“[I want to] bring the world to Mason, and take Mason to the world,” Cabrera said.