About the GMU Foundation

Ensuring a bright future through receiving, managing, investing, and administering private gifts made in support of George Mason University. Learn more about our mission and history below.

Message From the Foundation President

Trishana E. Bowden

Virginia’s own Arthur Ashe, the tennis great and force for civil rights, once said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

A great university exists to serve its students, its community, and the world. The ambitious mission of George Mason University—providing access to excellence for all—means that Mason succeeds only with deep engagement from people, institutions, and communities across Northern Virginia and beyond.

Since the impact of Covid became apparent in March 2020, George Mason has faced unprecedented external challenges. While others have struggled to meet those challenges, Mason has thrived. Enrollment is increasing, our financial picture is sound, and our community is united.

We could not achieve these things without the generous support of our donors—a community of givers measuring more than 12,000 strong each year.

Mason’s commitment to access and excellence has made us Virginia’s most diverse and most innovative university (according to the U.S. News and World Report), with tuition that is the lowest among the state’s major universities.

As the university strives to keep tuition affordable for all, philanthropy plays a key role. Scholarship support joins with financial aid to enable thousands of students who might not otherwise finish college to complete their higher education here. That helps explain why one-third of Mason undergraduates are the first in their family to earn a college degree, and more than half are from underrepresented populations. These students graduate from Mason well-prepared to serve their families, employers, community, and nation.

Charitable gifts to support more faculty positions, research, academic programs, student life, and more are equally needed. At the George Mason University Foundation, my team and I are committed to engaging with the entire Mason community, including alumni and friends, parents and students, faculty and staff, corporations, foundations, and other organizations, to support and help a great university become even greater.

By supporting George Mason University and its deserving students, I believe that each of us can not only make an impact, but be an agent of change, as Arthur Ashe was.

On behalf of our foundation’s Board of Trustees and staff, thank you for giving.


Trishana E. Bowden
President, George Mason University Foundation

Overview

Welcome to the George Mason University Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization that advances the educational mission of the university by receiving, managing, investing, and administering donations made in support of George Mason’s students and programs.

When our founders established the foundation in 1966—before George Mason was even an independent university—they understood the need for private philanthropy to advance the mission of a public institution of higher education. However, even they may not have envisioned the extraordinary growth trajectory Mason has been on over the past five decades. Today Mason enrolls nearly 40,000 students, offers more than 200 degree programs, is an engine of progress for our region, and as a top-tier R1 research university, is recognized among the nation’s outstanding public universities.

According to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, in 2020 George Mason again ranked highest among all colleges and universities in Virginia (and #15 nationally) for the diversity of its student body. Half of Mason undergraduates are from minority populations, with little or no disparity in their graduation rates by race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

This website presents key organizational information about the George Mason University Foundation, including financial reporting, endowment reports, and governance. If you would like to explore the university’s funding needs and stories of philanthropic impact, or make a gift, please visit the Giving to Mason website.

Leadership

Our leadership includes members from all disciplines and represents a cross section of the GMU alumni community. Get to know the team behind the community.

Our Mission

Since 1972, George Mason University has been setting the standard for public research universities nationwide. Today, the university serves as home to more than 39,000 students from 130 countries. At the Foundation, our purpose is to ensure a strong and sustainable future through managing gifts and other contributions from our gracious donors.

  • 1966

    1966

    The George Mason University Foundation, Inc. is established to purchase, accept and hold real estate and private resources to benefit George Mason University

  • 1971

    1971

    LeRoy R. Eakin Chair of Business Administration, George Mason’s first endowed faculty chair, begins with $25,000 donation by local businessman, LeRoy R. Eakin, Sr.

  • 1972

    1972

    Gov. Linwood Holton signs legislation that formally completes George Mason’s separation from the University of Virginia. Between 1957 – 1972, George Mason served as a two-year branch campus of UVA.

    George Mason University Foundation acquired the Fairfax High School building in the City of Fairfax which was used until 1983 as the North Campus for the university

  • 1978

    1978

    George Mason University Foundation financed the acquisition of the International School of Law in Arlington, now known as the Antonin Scalia Law Schoo

  • 1986

    1986

    George Mason University Foundation acquires University Park Office and Residential Townhomes for administrative office use by the university and for 36 units of student housing

  • 1989

    1989

    George Mason University Foundation acquires the Commerce Buildings in Fairfax City for administrative office use by the university

  • 1998

    1998

    George Mason University Foundation endowment exceeds $25 million with 142 individual endowed accounts

  • 2004

    2004

    Potomac Heights, a 504-bed student dormitory built by the foundation opens on Fairfax campus

  • 2005

    2005

    George Mason University’s first comprehensive campaign raises $142 million for university priorities

  • 2006

    2006

    Vernon Smith Hall, a 210,000 square foot office building built by the foundation opens. Building is adjacent to the university’s Arlington campus and provides 671 underground parking spots for Mason faculty and student use

  • 2007

    2007

    George Mason University Foundation endowment exceeds $50 million with 278 individual endowed accounts

  • 2011

    2011

    Merten Hall, a 143,000 square feet office building built by the foundation to house the administrative offices of the university opens on Fairfax campus

  • 2012

    2012

    Beacon Hall, a 152-bed student dormitory built by the foundation opens on the university’s Sci Tech campus in Prince William County

  • 2015

    2015

    Prince William Life Sciences Lab, a 76,000 square foot laboratory built by the foundation opens on the university’s Sci Tech campus

  • 2016

    2016

    George Mason University Foundation endowment exceeds $75 million with 471 individual endowed accounts

  • 2018

    2018

    Largest gift to George Mason University Foundation to endow the Allison and Dorothy Rouse Chairs at the Antonin Scalia Law School

    Completion of Faster Farther Campaign, which raised more than $690 million for university priorities from 2008-18

  • 2021

    2021

    George Mason University Foundation endowment exceeds $185 million with over 570 individual endowed accounts

Committee Structure

Executive Committee

Terri Cofer Beirne, Chair

Vijay Venkateswaran, Secretary

Michael E. Stievater, Treasurer, Finance Chair

Dennis J. Cotter, Real Estate Chair

Jenny E. Herrera, Audit Chair

Trevor J. Montano, Investment Chair

Nancy Rose Senich, Nominating & Governance Chair

Joseph J. O’Brien, Jr., Representative to IDIA Task Force

Tina Williams, At-Large

Sonya J. Stone, At-Large

Trishana E. Bowden, President (Ex Officio)

Gregory Washington, University President (Ex Officio)

Susan Van Leunen, VP & Chief Financial Officer (Ex Officio)

Investment Committee

Trevor J. Montano, Chair

Adel E. Antoun

Sanam Boroumand

Anirban Chakrabarti

James J. Consagra

Colin Hart

Deepak Hathiramani

John M. Jacquemin

Tim Peterson

Sonya J. Stone

Dean Representative: Zofia Burr

Staff: Tracy White, Director of Real Estate and Investments

Audit Committee

Jenny Herrera, Chair

Sharon P. Apricena

Timothy H. Gillis

Tamara Nall

Robin Valentine

Bruce D. Wardinski

Staff: Beth Cantrell, Controller

Nominating & Governance Committee

Nancy Rose Senich, Chair

Teresa H. Carlson

Nelson Garcia

Nicole A. Geller

Todd R. House

Jennifer Burkhart London

Margaret E. Myers

Sumeet Shrivastava

Susan E. Soza

Lourdes V. Venes

Tina Williams

Ruth Williams-Brinkley

Staff: Susan Van Leunen, VP & Chief Financial Officer

Jennifer Robinson, Associate Vice President, Alumni Relations

Finance Committee

Michael E. Stievater, Chair

Nadeem Butler

Tim Cannon

Christopher Durlak

Brian J. Hays

Jerry Hogge III

Robert W. Noonan

Delbert Parks

David T. Petersen

Kenneth D. Reid

Dean Representative: Alpaslan Ozerdem

Alumni Association Representative: Christine Landoll

Staff: Beth Cantrell, Controller

Real Estate Committee

Dennis J. Cotter, Chair

Jack Harrington

Peggy Jones

Pauline Thompson

Faculty Representative: Liza Wilson Durant

G.O.L.D. Representative: Rolando Flores Santos

Staff: Tracy White, Director of Real Estate and Investments

FAQs

The George Mason University Foundation (foundation or GMU Foundation) is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization established in 1966 to receive, manage, invest and administer private gifts, including endowment and real property, made in support of George Mason University (university or GMU).  The foundation is governed by an independent Board of Trustees and conducts business according to its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

The Investment Committee is the standing committee of the Board of Trustees established to fulfill its oversight responsibilities over investment policies, performance and other investment related matters.  The establishment of asset allocation targets and the development of an investment policy statement are at the heart of the fiduciary process. The Investment Committee oversees the foundation’s investment policy statements for the endowment and restricted portfolios. The Investment Committee also selects the foundation’s investment advisors, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.  The GMU Foundation utilizes an outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) model in managing its endowment and restricted portfolios. The foundation’s OCIO is SPG Fiduciary Partners of Raymond James Financial Services. The Investment Committee meets at least quarterly to review investment and OCIO performance, and reports the results to the Board of Trustees.

Yes, GMU is a public university, but receives less than 15 percent of its operating budget from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Private funds are critical to preserving and growing the academic excellence of the university.

The GMU Foundation accepts and invests private gifts received in support of the university.  Expendable gift funds are invested in a highly liquid restricted portfolio according to the Restricted Investment Policy Statement.  Endowed gift funds are invested in a well-balanced and diversified perpetual endowment portfolio according to the Endowment Investment Policy Statement.

An endowment can be created with a minimum $25,000 commitment. These endowed funds can be named in honor or memory of a family member, a beloved professor, or other individual or group, and may be created for a variety of educational purposes at GMU, including scholarships and faculty support. For more information, contact the Office of University Advancement.

The GMU Foundation expects that over time investment returns will not only preserve but enhance the real value of the endowment after funds are released for use, the objective is to achieve a real growth at least equal to the inflation rate plus the current spending rate in the long term.  In so doing, the GMU Foundation preserves the purchasing power of endowment assets for future generations.

The annual endowment payout for each individual endowment account is equal to the prior year payout distribution increased for inflation (Consumer Price Index) with annual distribution to remain above 3% but not to exceed 6% of prior year fair market value.  The endowment payout for endowment accounts for which the market value is below the original gift value will receive a payout of 2% of the prior year fair market value. Payout distributions for new or just fully funded endowments are calculated at 1.25% of the gift corpus in the first year.

The foundation does not determine the use of donor restricted funds. Donors may give restricted expendable funds to the GMU Foundation which support the donor’s intended use.  Donors also make commitments to the GMU Foundation in the form of endowments that are restricted to particular priorities — such as scholarships, professorships or programs, and distributions from the endowment fund support the donor’s restrictions as to use.

Gifts to endowment are invested in perpetuity.  The Board of Trustees approves payouts from the endowment and distributes them on an annual basis to support the individual endowment funds’ objectives. Alternatively, expendable funds, whether restricted or unrestricted, can be fully spent in support of a donor’s intended use.

An endowment is fully funded at the designated amount (usually $25,000).  Payout distributions for new or just fully funded endowments are calculated at 1.25% of the gift corpus in the first year.  Thereafter payout distributions are calculated based on the prior year amount, plus and inflation factor (see above).

Expendable funds are invested in a highly liquid low risk portfolio to ensure these funds are available when called upon.

The perpetual nature of the endowment allows the GMU Foundation and the Board of Trustees to take a long-term perspective in developing its endowment investment policy, which in turn enables implementation of its investment strategy without being significantly influenced by the day-to-day fluctuations of the financial markets.