No two days at Mason are the same.

With a combined tenure at Mason of 45 plus years, Dr. Morrie  Scherrens and  Dr Sandy Scherrens reflect on their time at  Mason as they say prepare to say goodbye to the institution they helped to shape.

Dr. Morrie Scherrens recalls when he arrived in Fairfax 37 years ago, Mason was just a shell of what it has become. It enrolled just 5,000 students and the on-campus housing options consisted solely of the student apartments. Mason was not a number one option. Students arrived hesitantly to campus, electing to go to Mason only when their first several options fell through.

“Most students that came here in the 70s or 80s were coming here as a second, third or fourth choice,” Dr. Morrie Scherrens said. “Most students that come here now are coming because they want to be here.”

In his 37 years on Mason’s campus, Dr. Morrie Scherrens played a major role – along with Dr. George W. Johnson and Dr. Alan Merten – in shaping the reputation of the university. While the two former presidents focused much of their attention on bringing in the best faculty – with the idea that the best faculty would attract the best students – Dr. Morrie Scherrens focused much of his efforts on building an infrastructure around the institution that was necessary in attracting the brightest students.

“There is a culture that Mason continues to embrace,” Dr. Morrie Scherrens said. “One of diversity, one of inclusivity. And I think that is what Mason has stood for since I have been here.”

When Dr. Sandy Scherrens arrived at Mason as Vice President of University Life in 2004, the institution was still considered a commuter school. Athletic events saw just a few hundred students in attendance and weekend activities were almost nonexistent.

“It was like ghost town on the weekends,” Dr. Sandy Scherrens said. “There was literally nothing going on.”

According to the Scherrens, it was commonplace among students to believe that Mason was not a “real” institution and that Fairfax was not a “real” campus.   Dr. Sandy Scherrens dedicated a large chunk of resources within University Life to increasing student involvement.

In her eight years as vice president, University Life has grown from 120 employees to over 600 employees, each of whom dedicates their career to bringing Mason students an incredible college experience. Students now pile into the Patriot Center, attend major events at the Center for the Arts and participate in on-campus weekend activities, immersing themselves more and more into the new identity that Dr. Sandy Scherrens has helped create.

“I think we have seen the payoff,” Dr. Sandy Scherrens said. “Students seem really happy to be here.”

Along with getting students involved, Dr. Sandy Scherrens has always been a strong advocate for students as leaders. When she arrived at Mason, however, there were no programs or offices in place to properly educate students on the intricacies of leadership.

“That just seemed like we were missing the boat,” Dr. Sandy Scherrens said. “When we talk about educating students, looking at the big picture, that just seemed like a really important piece that we weren’t giving them.”

In just her second year at the university, Dr. Sandy Scherrens played a key role in the creation of the Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Office, an office that now hosts a variety of different events for students to develop skills in leadership.

“It’s such an important component to educating the student,” Dr. Sandy Scherrens said. “You have to have a way to take what you’re learning in the classroom and put it into action.”

For many years, the administrators within Mason worked to develop a plan that would make the university an attractive place for all students – preparing for any opportunity that would thrust Mason into the spotlight. With the proper foundation in place, thanks in large part to the work of Dr. Morrie and Dr. Sandy Scherrens, Mason was primed to take advantage of their opening, when the men’s basketball team made its improbable run into the Final Four.

Freshmen applications increased exponentially, transfer applications hit an all-time high and, most importantly, students were arriving at Mason because they wanted to be a part of something.

“We have the attitude of the underdog because there has always been UVA and Tech, the big schools,” Dr. Morrie Scherrens said. “But we have risen quicker than anyone ever thought we could rise.”

Despite the rapid growth, Dr. Morrie Scherrens and Dr. Sandy Scherrens have held to their core values and have continued to make student satisfaction the top priority within the university.

“We offer students an opportunity to get involved and to voice their opinions,” Dr. Sandy Scherrens said. “But then we listen to their opinions, and we act upon those opinions.”

With the input of students, staff, faculty and alumni, Dr. Morrie and Dr. Sandy Scherrens have played a key role in morphing the university into one of the most respectable universities, an institution that was recently named the top up-and-coming university by U.S. News & World Report for the second time in five years.

Dr. Morrie Scherrens announced his departure from the university in mid-May after being named the president at Newberry College. Shortly after that message, Dr. Sandy Scherrens announced that she will be joining her husband in South Carolina, relieving Mason of two key members of its rich tradition beginning on Oct. 1.

Though their home will no longer be in Fairfax, their presence and their work within the community will forever be a key component in Mason history.

“[Mason] has been a great place to work,” Dr. Morrie Scherrens said. “As Dr. Merten always said, ‘I hope we did the right thing, at the right time.”