Mason Announces Next President, Gregory Washington

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Washington is currently the dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California-Irvine


After a more than six-month-long search, Mason’s Board of Visitors (BOV) has selected Gregory Washington, the dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California-Irvine (UCI), to be Mason’s eighth president.

Washington is set to start the position on July 1, 2020, according to an email sent out by Rector Tom Davis. He is Mason’s first African American president.

The announcement came at 1:25 p.m. on Monday after the BOV met in Merten Hall earlier that day. 

“When the Board set out to fill this position, we were determined to find someone who was both a strategic thinker with the vision to see our future and a mobilizer with the ability to inspire our community to build on Mason’s success. We searched for someone who understood our mission and our values of access and affordability, teaching and scholarship, research of consequence, and the importance of community engagement,” wrote Davis in the same email sent to Mason’s student body.

He continued, “We found that and more in Dr. Washington, who stood out in a competitive pool of leaders with a clearly defined vision for Mason that would set the standard for higher education.”

Washington has been the dean of engineering at UCI since 2011. Prior to this, Washington was the associate dean of research and interim dean of the College of Engineering at Ohio State University. 

He is also currently a member of multiple organizations, including the National Science Foundation Engineering Advisory Committee, the OCTANE Board of Directors and the California Network for Manufacturing Innovation Board of Directors. 

Washington was previously a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and is a past chair of the Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education.

“Dr. Washington’s story is very much the Mason story,” wrote Davis. “He was the first in his family to earn a college degree, earning his bachelor’s, master’s and [Ph.D.] at North Carolina State University. He is recognized as one of the best deans in the country, and has a deep appreciation for all the academic disciplines, as well as the many constituencies that make up a university community.” 

In an article published by George Mason News, Washington said, “I am honored to accept this position and thrilled to lead Mason at this exciting time.” 

He continued, “What attracted me to Mason was its reputation for having real impact, providing access and for its commitment to inclusive excellence. Those values are in direct alignment with how I operate as an academic leader. I look forward to helping continue to accelerate the trajectory of the institution. The Mason community has laid an extraordinary foundation and my job is [to] take us forward and build on that success. I feel really blessed to have been given this opportunity and can’t wait to get started.”

The announcement comes after a complicated presidential search process where Mason’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter has been fighting to have an open, transparent search process and uphold the faculty handbook. 

On Saturday, Feb. 23, faculty senators, a staff senate representative and Student Body President Camden Layton met with the final four candidates. Each meeting was an hour long, according to an email sent to the faculty by Shannon Davis, chair of the faculty senate.

“We know even that level of community engagement would not have happened without the vigilance and persistence of our campaign,” said AAUP in a statement to Fourth Estate. “Nonetheless, the lack of transparency and shared governance, and the lack of adherence to our Faculty Handbook, remain of great concern to us. While the GMU-AAUP looks forward to learning about and getting to know Dr. Washington, we are more committed than ever to the principles of transparency and shared governance at Mason and for the public good.”

Washington and his wife will be introduced to the university community at the Board of Visitors meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Hazel Conference room in Merten Hall.