Governors help dedicate Schar School

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Ohio Gov. John Kasich helped the George Mason University community dedicate the newly named Schar School of Policy and Government on Monday, recognizing long-time Mason supporter Dwight C. Schar for his generous gift to the school.

Mason renamed the school this year in honor of Schar, a Virginia businessman who gave a $10 million gift to boost the school’s reputation nationally and amplify its research, programs and experts.

“Our Commonwealth is strong today because of leaders like Dwight Schar,” McAuliffe said before an audience of approximately 300 people on the Arlington Campus. “You have made this not only a better Commonwealth, but a better university and a better country.”

McAuliffe also announced that the Schar School has entered into an agreement with The Washington Post to conduct regional and state polling in Virginia.

The governors spoke at a ceremony alongside Mason President Ángel Cabrera, Rector and former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly and Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell.

Cabrera talked about the importance of giving the school a name that commands respect.

“Someone with a name that indicates real values and leadership,” Cabrera said.  “This is a transformative gift, and promises that he will be here for the long run with us. This gift will help us propel this school to a whole new level.”

Cabrera said the school will “create a new generation of leaders who can make good things happen in our society.”

The Schar School educates about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year and has more than 80 faculty and more than 13,000 alumni.

The school offers a range of public policy and government topics, including regional economics, global terrorism, security, public health, transportation, and many other areas. The faculty includes Carnegie and Guggenheim Fellows, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a former congressman, and the former head of the CIA and NSA.

Kasich, in his third appearance at Mason this year, said Schar is setting an example of how to use his wealth in meaningful ways to help his community.

“There are moments in time when we can rise to the higher level, when we live a life a little bit bigger than ourselves,” Kasich said. “Dwight has been very generous to this school. People won’t talk much about his business career or how much money he made. They’re going to talk about his generosity, the moments he lived his life bigger than himself.”

Schar, perhaps best known for founding and leading NVR, Inc., the National Capital Region’s largest residential homebuilder, did not speak at the dedication. But he has been a great supporter of Mason for decades.

Schar and his wife Martha in 2002 established an endowed faculty chair for the public policy school. They also have supported Mason’s Center for Regional Analysis, which studies and predicts economic trends in the metropolitan Washington area. Schar has been the driving force behind the recent formation of the Stephen Fuller Institute, which will analyze the economic vibrancy of the region and the Commonwealth.

“This naming is a most deserving honor, because Dwight Schar helped build Northern Virginia,” Mason Rector Tom Davis said. “And he’s helped build George Mason University, both through his time and his resources.”

Schar served on the George Mason University Board of Trustees from 1986 through 1998 and received the Mason Medal, the university’s highest honor, in 2003.

The family’s commitment to Mason spans generations. The Schars’ daughter, Tracy, is a Mason alumnus and a current member of the university’s Board of Visitors.

“It’s been impossible to place a value on what I’ve learned from you,” Rozell said, addressing Schar. “We look forward to your continued involvement with the school.”