Seven Years: The Era of Cabrera 

Fourth Estate/Alexandria McAlpine

Highlighting the highs and lows of Cabrera’s presidential term


Following the 16-year term of former Mason President Alan Merten, Ángel Cabrera assumed the position in July of 2012

In his inaugural speech Cabrera said,“What if, instead of defining our goal as trying to be the best university in the world, we promise one another that what we are going to try to do is become the best university for the world? That’s our goal.” 

In 2014, Cabrera announced that,“Former Washington Redskins player Brad Edwards will be the college’s new athletic director,” according to CBS D.C

Mason Korea, a satellite campus of Mason in Incheon, South Korea, was founded in 2014 under the Cabrera administration and aimed “to become the best global education hub in Northeast Asia,” according to the Mason Korea website

In 2016, Mason faced controversy for accepting a set of donations from politically conservative sources. According to an article in the Washington Post, “Among the gifts to the law school was $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation.” 

This decision alone led to unrest among students and staff as it was revealed that “Millions of dollars in donations from conservative-leaning donors like the Charles Koch Foundation had come with strings attached,” according to the New York Times

The university also took a donation from Dwight Schar, an American businessman known to support conservative causes. This decision was supported by Cabrera as he stated, “Dwight Schar’s gift will help bring the increased international acclaim the school so richly deserves.” 

In 2018, Mason welcomed its largest incoming class: the class of 2022. “3,700 students is the largest incoming class in school history and brings the total enrollment past 37,000 students for the first time,” according to Mason’s website at the time. 

The Cabrera administration worked to help students who wanted to begin their higher education at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and later transfer to Mason. 

“In addition to more closely aligning their curricula and course requirements, GMU and NOVA are supporting ADVANCE students by pairing them with success coaches who will advise them throughout their higher education career,” according to an article published in November 2018 in the Fairfax County Times. Cabrera stated, “This is not just a pilot. This is a sustainable solution that is going to change the lives of thousands of students.” 

In March 2019, it was first reported by the Fourth Estate that recently appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had been hired to teach at Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School as a visiting professor. 

This decision was met with mixed reactions from the student body and contributed to the creation of Mason for Survivors, a student-run organization. According to an article published in the Huffington Post, Maeve Hartnett, a member of Mason 4 Survivors, said she felt “uncomfortable going to this school,” adding “I don’t feel like I can complete the rest of my education here.” 

Meanwhile, President Cabrera reconfirmed the university’s decision on the hiring, stating,“Even if the outcome is painful, what’s at stake is very, very important for the integrity of the university.” 

On June 6, University Life sent out an email to all currently enrolled students announcing that Cabrera was selected as a top finalist for the presidency of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). A few days later on June 13, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) named Cabrera president of Georgia Tech effective beginning Sept. 1. 

On July 31, Cabrera left Mason with a farewell message on his blog stressing to the Mason community that “A lot of work remains for all of us. In Fairfax, in Atlanta, across the nation, and around the world… More conversations need to happen between those who disagree … Hasta la vista, George Mason University. Muchas gracias.”