Devoted ‘Pathway’ Founder Robert Templin to Receive Mason Medal

By Cathy Cruise

Robert Templin, a longtime partner and supporter of George Mason University, will be awarded the Mason Medal at this year’s Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at the Patriot Center on the Fairfax Campus.

Templin served as the fourth president of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) from 2002 until this February. Under his tenure, NOVA began a strategic plan to increase college access and student success by strengthening relationships between NOVA and the region’s high schools, community-based nonprofit organizations, universities and employers.

Templin was instrumental in bringing more than 30,000 NOVA students to Mason, many of them first-generation college students, through his Pathway to the Baccalaureate initiative. The program helps open doors for qualified students who might otherwise be unable to attend college. Mason’s Pathway students have made the most of their opportunities—about 83 percent have earned degrees here.

NOVA transfers more students to Mason, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison, Virginia Tech and UVA than any other institution. Templin’s recent assistance facilitating a Mason/NOVA collaboration in Loudoun County enabled thousands of families in the region to have greater access to Mason offerings.

The Mason Medal is the university’s highest honorary award. Its recipients have a record of service to their community, state or nation consistent with the level and quality of American patriot George Mason, the university’s namesake.

Mason president Ángel Cabrera, in his nomination letter, said Templin’s “guiding hand and progressive vision have benefited more than 500,000 NOVA students of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds” and that “scores of them continue their educations at Mason.”

Templin said he is humbled at receiving this award, and sees it as a testament to Mason and NOVA’s collaboration, promising even greater opportunities for the future.

“I am so very pleased that NOVA’s relationship with Mason has blossomed into one of the nation’s exemplary partnerships between a community college and a great university,” Templin said. “When we see two great institutions like NOVA and Mason educating students, we see an outstanding future for our students. When we see these two great institutions serving tens of thousands of students together, we see an outstanding future for our region.”

Since 2010, Templin has served as chair of the board of directors of Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform network. He is founding chair of the C-4 Network that supports the design and implementation of collective impact partnerships between community colleges and Goodwill Industries International. And he was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House, following the White House Summit on Community Colleges.

Templin recently accepted an appointment as a senior fellow with the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., where he will continue his national community college reform work and develop programs for the next generation of community college presidents. He will also serve as a professor at North Carolina State University.