Mason President Merten to Step Down as of June 30, 2012

Posted: March 24, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: March 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

By Daniel Walsch and Robin Herron

President Alan G. Merten

Mason President Alan G. Merten announced his intention to step down as the institution’s chief executive, effective June 30, 2012.

Merten has been president of the university since 1996.

The president submitted his letter of resignation to Mason’s Board of Visitors (BOV) at its meeting held on Wednesday, March 23.

Following is the content of Merten’s letter:

“I am writing to inform the Board of Visitors that I will be stepping down as president of George Mason University on June 30, 2012. Serving as president of Mason has been the greatest privilege of my career and I am proud of what has been accomplished.

Sally (Merten) and I have thoroughly enjoyed our tenure at Mason and value the friendships and community ties we have established. We look forward to a continuing strong relationship with the university for many years.

Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship.”

The BOV formally accepted Merten’s resignation, and BOV Rector Ernst Volgenau issued a statement.

“Dr. Merten’s continued leadership of the university and his outstanding connections locally, regionally and globally will ensure that ambitious goals of the Board of the Visitors and the administration will be realized in the future because of his accomplishments in the past: enhanced state funding, expansion of educational activities in science, technology, engineering and math, and new global opportunities, particularly in the area of mutually beneficial collaborative degrees,” Volgenau said.

(Volgenau’s complete statement may be accessed at

Merten came to Mason after serving as dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University from 1989 to 1996.

During Merten’s tenure at Mason, the university has seen significant growth in a number of key areas. Its student enrollment has grown from 24,368 to 32,562. The amount of sponsored research monies has increased from $28 million to more than $100 million. The number of buildings has gone from 125 to 168. The number of degree programs has increased from 110 to 199.

As president, Merten has overseen a university that became the fastest growing university in Virginia and the only institution of higher learning in Virginia to have two Nobel laureates on its faculty. Other highlights during Merten’s presidency include Mason being named the number one national university to watch by U.S. News & World Report and the men’s basketball team reaching the Final Four in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

Merten said that he and his wife expect over the next 15 months “to do all the things we normally do, and continue to move the university ahead at the same speed.”

He added that he was looking forward to celebrating in 2012 the university’s 40th anniversary as an independent institution and the 55th anniversary of its founding as an extension of the University of Virginia.

The Mertens plan to remain in the Fairfax area after the president steps down.

The BOV will appoint an ad hoc committee to recommend the composition of a search committee for a new president and a timeline for the process.


Write to mediarel at