University Day service awardees honored for driving Mason’s progress


The George Mason University community united recently to celebrate colleagues who have served Mason and/or the Commonwealth of Virginia from five to 45 years.

Mason’s annual University Day Service Awards recognized 652 individuals with food, music, mingling, and pictures with Mason President Gregory Washington and the Patriot mascot. 

The Nov. 8 “green” event honored those with five, 10 and 15 years of service. The Nov. 9 “gold” event honored those with 20 to 45 years of service.

group of people at University Day
Glenn Smith (center, green tie) celebrates University Day with College of Visual and Performing Arts colleagues. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

“During the 20, the 30, the 40, to even 45 years of service that many of you have been involved with this institution, [Mason] has made some remarkable progress,” Washington said during the Nov. 9 ceremony. “That progress is due to every single person in this room. Your contributions are the reason for our success.”

This rings especially true for the two employees who were celebrating 45 years of service: Glenn Smith, director of theory and composition in the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music, and Abdulaziz Sachedina, International Institution of Islamic Thought (IIIT) professor and chair of Islamic studies in the Department of Religious Studies.

Smith and Sachedina said they joined Mason because of its potential for growth.

“When I came to Mason, it was so new, and I decided that I was going to do what I could to bring this university into the 21st century,” said Smith, who started at Mason in 1976. 

One way he accomplished this was by bringing quantum physics and neuroscience to music, and creating Mason’s music for well-being programs, focused on vibrational healing with sound.

“I teach students energy psychology because everything is in a state of vibration,” Smith said. “If you’re a musician, you’re controlling vibrations, and you’re very powerful. You have to be careful how you use music, so I use it for healing.”

two men on stage at U Day
Abdulaziz Sachedina with President Gregory Washington. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Smith created and directs the related music and well-being minor, as well as Mason’s Healing Arts Ensemble, which he founded in 2007 and allows students to apply music healing principles in performance.

Sachedina, who joined Mason in 2012 after teaching at the University of Virginia for 36 years, said Mason allowed him to “see other dimensions of higher education in Virginia” and grow his experience with what is now the largest public research university in the state.

His research and teaching on Islamic studies has expanded to larger issues of humanity, he said.

“My goal is making people aware of the idea of coexistence: that human beings need to learn to live together,” Sachedina said. “I want to see that our humanity shines through in a global society.”

Mason helped him travel to Iran to teach, which was important, he said, because “we need education to be the bridge of connection in the world.”

For both 45-year service awardees, their reasons for staying at Mason are simple: the students. 

Students ask some of the best questions, Sachedina said, “and we learn from them as much as we teach them.”

That is why, Sachedina said, he wants to stay in Mason’s classrooms as long as he can.

Smith said that not only does he “get to play music and hear professionally played music every day,” he also gets to “help students grow into professionals in a relatively short period of time.”

President Washington ended his remarks on Nov. 9 by congratulating everyone on their milestones.

“I want to thank you, again, for your many many years of service,” he said. “Go Patriots.”