Alan G. Merten
The reputation of George Mason University as a progressive, innovative institution of higher learning has continued to gain in strength and scope under the presidency of Alan G. Merten. Since becoming the university's fifth president in July 1996, Mason has gained national and international acclaim for a number of significant initiatives and achievements ranging from the completion of its first capital campaign and becoming the first university to host the World Congress on Information Technology to dramatically increasing its basic and applied research activities.
During Merten's tenure as Mason's president, the university has become the fastest growing university in Virginia, with student enrollment climbing from 24,000 in 1996 to more than 30,000 today. The quality of Mason's students at all levels has increased dramatically during this time. Coinciding with this growth is the emergence of George Mason University as a vital center of cultural, academic, and athletic activity for the entire Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C., region. As a result of the university's outreach efforts, an estimated three million people visit the Mason campuses each year to attend and participate in a range of events and activities, including lectures, sports competitions, concerts, recitals, and theatrical productions.
George Mason University is also the only institution of higher learning in Virginia to have two faculty members win a Nobel Prize. James Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986, and Vernon Smith was awarded the same Nobel Prize in 2002.
Building on its strengths in the information sciences and the performing arts, the university has recently developed innovative teaching and research programs in the humanities, public policy, and the biological sciences. George Mason University is presently immersed in a far-reaching building program that is unprecedented among academic institutions.
Prior to coming to George Mason University, Merten was the dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University from 1989 to 1996. He was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Florida from 1986 to 1989, where he also served as a professor of information systems. From 1970 to 1986, he was at the University of Michigan, first as an assistant professor of industrial and operations engineering. Merten rose to the rank of associate dean in the Michigan Business School where he was responsible for executive education and computing services.
Merten has held academic appointments in both engineering and business, and academic and business positions in Hungary and France.
He has served on business and government councils and committees, holding several leadership roles. Merten was chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology and a member of the Virginia Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Northern Virginia Technology Council, a real estate investment trust, a mutual fund trust, and a banking institution.
He has been recognized for his contributions to the Northern Virginia technology community, and as a leader of the Greater Washington, D.C., business community. He has also been recognized for promoting volunteerism and service to the community, and for his contributions to the use of information technology in the federal government. Named one of the most powerful people in the National Capital Region in 2007, he was also recognized for outstanding community service and dedication to improving the quality of life in the region.
Merten has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University, and a PhD degree in computer science from University of Wisconsin.
He and his wife, Sally, have two children and four grandsons.