Mason BOV welcomes new board members, selects new rector

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The George Mason University Board of Visitors (BOV) elected a new rector and welcomed four new members Friday, July 29, as part of the governing body’s annual two-day planning conference and meeting.

Horace Blackman is wearing a dark sportcoat and red tie
Rector Horace Blackman

Horace Blackman, vice rector the past two years, takes over as rector from Jimmy Hazel, who remains on the board. Blackman, appointed to the board by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2017 and eappointed last year by Gov. Ralph Northam, is senior vice president and lead of IT consulting company CGI Federal’s Defense, Intelligence and Space business unit.

Blackman double-majored in American studies and English at Mason, graduating in 1993.

“It is incredibly touching to come through the university as a student and to have the opportunity to serve the university and the community as rector,” Blackman said. “We are all beneficiaries of the leadership of Jimmy Hazel, prior rector Tom Davis, and a number of the rectors who have helped build the board and build the university. I look forward to working with Mason leadership to carry out our vision for Mason.”

“Horace embodies the Mason spirit, starting here as a student and serving as a BOV member,” Mason President Gregory Washington said. “He is the right person to help lead us into our second half-century as an independent institution. His commitment, and his standing in the Mason and greater community, will continue to push us to new heights. And no one has done more for Mason than Jimmy Hazel. We thank him for his longstanding dedication to Mason and we’re pleased we’ll still have his guiding hand on the BOV.”

The board also elected Simmi Bhuller as vice rector and Jon Peterson as secretary. Bhuller, BA Government and International Politics ’02, is publisher and chief revenue officer at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Northam appointed her to the BOV in 2019. Peterson is chief executive officer of Peterson Companies, a real estate company. Northam appointed him to serve on the board in 2020. Peterson served as vice rector from 2014 to 2018.

The rector, vice rector and secretary are elected for two-year terms. The other two executive committee members elected for this term are Carolyn Moss and Wendy Marquez.

In June, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Mason’s four new board members, three of whom attended the planning conference and meeting. Members of the 16-member BOV serve four-year terms. The four new BOV members are:

  • Reginald Brown, of Alexandria, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Brown provides investigations-related guidance, strategic counsel and crisis management assistance to a broad range of companies and senior executives in government, law, media and public policy. He returns to the BOV after serving from 2011 to 2015.
  • Lindsey Burke, of Fairfax, the director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation. She oversees research and policy on issues pertaining to preschool, K-12, and higher education reform. Youngkin appointed her to serve on his landing team for education. Burke earned her PhD in education policy from Mason in 2018.
  • Michael Meese, of Oak Hill, president of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, a nonprofit supporting the military and veterans. He is a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and former professor and head of the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy. He has two daughters who earned degrees from Mason. His father, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, served two terms on the BOV and was Mason rector from 1998 to 2004.
  • Ambassador Robert Pence (ret.), of Washington, D.C., chairman of The Pence Group, a development company, and served as U.S. Ambassador to Finland from 2018 to 2021. Pence previously was appointed to the BOV in 2012 by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Brown, Burke, Meese and Pence