George Mason University Korea named Roberts Matz as its very first Campus Dean. During the Campus Dean candidate interviews, which took place in Dec. 2018, students and faculty were able to engage in the selection processes by leaving anonymous feedback or questioning directly to the candidates. Chief Business Officer Gbemi Disu, made the official announcement via email on Jan.10, 2019 that Dr. Matz would be assuming the deanship from Feb.2019. As a relay from the email, she explained that “Dr. Matz will be responsible for leading and managing all aspects of campus programs and operations.” According to his resume for the candidate interview, Dr. Matz has over 10 years of experience in administration for strategic planning, program development and the management of large staff—serving as the chair of the English department of the Fairfax campus from 2008 to 2013 and serving as senior associate dean of its College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS).
Can you tell us a little bit about your life before coming to work with George Mason University?
I grew up in Chicago, IL, and major[ed] in English in college, which I also studied in graduate school. In particular, the Renaissance literature was really interesting, and I hope to teach some of the classes later in the future. For recreation, I like to do bike touring and hoping to ski in Korea or Japan. I also like Scrabble or watching Netflix.
What are the visions that you had when applying for the position of Campus Dean?
I’ve been working at George Mason University Fairfax for 25 years. I really love its culture and the people there. I hope to bring the two campuses closer together and promote the international quality and diversity. Not only to bring that mission to this campus, but also from my personal level, being in the same place for 25 years and then coming to Songdo feels like the best of both worlds for me; doing something new, but also stay at an institution that I’ve always admired.
Based on your background from CHSS (College of Humanities and Social Science), how do you plan to use your experience to engage with students?
One of the nice things about CHSS was that the Dean would have regular lunches with students. And we’re also starting this here, starting from Thursdays of the month hoping that we will be able to sit down together and ask students about how things are going, their interests and concerns. Also, we encourage Mason Korea students to follow us on social media to get updates and informed about student activities.
Can you briefly introduce to us about the “Student Success Collaborative Platform” mentioned in your resume, and from that experience, how would you like to work with our students in Mason Korea?
The “Student Success Collaborative Platform” is a software that helps us with advising and supporting students. First, it allows advisors to keep a record of conversations with students and make notes from previous sessions, creating an information-based system. It also enables to detect the students’ difficulties. The faculty can reach out and suggest any help. One of the good things about Mason is the student support culture. Students have to work, but we’re also there to help them succeed.
What do you think is the most important thing for our students to have a well-balanced college experience?
A couple of things: one is planning, looking over syllabi at the beginning of the semester and mapping out and project management. Also, getting involved in extracurricular activities and student organizations is important because you can use different parts of the brain, and to also help one another. I highly suggest students to be involved in at least one student activity.
Last but not least, do you have some visions for our Mason Korea community?
One of the advantages that Mason Korea has over the Fairfax campus is that we’re relatively small, and I believe that we can individualize connections—a community where we know each other, as a particular individual and create good connections among students, faculty and staff. I also want some great interchange between the two campuses; bringing more Mason Korea students and faculty to Fairfax, and vice versa. I think the small classroom is a unique experience while you’re on this campus. That kind of engagement, listening well, thinking and answering to problems will make you grow. Learning from others and to view things from different perspective.