Accomplished Students Win Seats on Board of Visitors

Posted: July 6, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: July 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

By Ethan Vaughan

David Arditi. Creative Services photo

With the quality of student applicants at an all-time high, Mason’s Board of Visitors (BOV) had a tough time this year making its picks for the next academic year’s student board members.

David Arditi and Danielle Miller were chosen from a “very competitive” field to represent the student body at the BOV’s meetings.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” says Miller, a sophomore with a double major in marketing and management. “I’m actually shocked that I got it.”

Tom Hennessey, university chief of staff in the Office of the President and liaison to the BOV, is not quite so surprised.

“Both students have great communication skills,” he says. “They have the ability to connect with people and convey their thoughts and enthusiasm. They’re both good students, no doubt about that, and they both have many activities.”

The newly named representatives have reached out to their peers before the 2010-11 year has even begun, urging fellow Patriots to speak to them about important issues.

“If someone has something they’d like to address, I’d more than happy to meet with them about it,” Miller says. “They can contact me at dmille8@gmu.edu.

Danielle Miller. Creative Services photo

Arditi, a graduate student earning a PhD in cultural studies, has urged students to seek him out in the Graduate Student Center, which he pushed to establish earlier this year.

While Hennessey praises Miller and Arditi, he also says that their qualifications led to the margin of victory being tighter than usual.

“The board members have commented every year that the quality is better than the year before,” says Hennessey. “This year the quality was outstanding, to the point that it was a very close vote. The selection committee actually sent letters out to students who weren’t picked, saying, ‘Be sure to apply next year.’ It’s hard to say whether that was the result of the quality of the students applying or the quality of the students overall.”

Miller and Arditi pulled ahead, Hennessey says, because of their contributions to the school.

Both candidates came with impressive resumes.

Miller was a service chair for the Mason Ambassadors during the 2009-10 school year. In that capacity she led eight service activities, including the highly successful GBAY auction in the spring.

“It was the first university-wide benefit auction held at Mason,” Miller explains. “There were live and silent auctions and door prizes. One of the main goals was to raise money for need-based scholarships.”

The effort, which was inspired by Dean of Admissions Andrew Flagel, raised more than $10,000 toward scholarships for Mason students.

“In the fall we did a lot of work for the external community, working with Befriend-a-Child and doing the AIDS Walk, and in the spring we wanted to focus inward and help the inner community grow,” Miller elaborates. “Given the economy, we thought we would help those students in need. We’re continuing the promotion of bringing in the excellent students Mason deserves to have.”

Arditi has a full roster of accomplishments as well.

In working to represent the interests of Mason’s graduate students he founded the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) and successfully secured space for a Graduate Student Center in the Science and Tech II Building.

“It gives graduate students a place to study,” he says. “One of the big problems is that there’s no place for them to do their jobs, especially if they’re lecturers or TAs [teaching assistants]. They wind up grading papers in the Johnson Center, which presents some obvious privacy concerns; you don’t want to be grading papers with your students walking by. The Graduate Student Center also creates a social community.”

Both Miller and Arditi have goals for their year with the BOV.

“I want to involve graduate students in the process of university governance,” Arditi says. “I also have an interest in academic life itself and would like to make sure the BOV is constantly thinking about academic quality, integrity and freedom.”

Miller hopes to let people know about the academic and on-campus opportunities at Mason.

“Mason is one of the most underrated universities in Virginia,” she says. “It’s a fantastic school. I’ll promote that to anyone — promote it as much as possible so that we can continue to push forward.”

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu