George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Written by Greg Johnson on .

Mandy O’Neill

Mandy O’Neill, associate professor of management, decided to step away from campus for a deeper dive into her research on organizational culture. Her year-long sabbatical took her to California for stops including her old stomping grounds of Stanford, where she received her PhD, and the Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley to take part in their new organizational culture initiative. The trip served another important purpose for O’Neill and George Mason University. Before departing, she received the names of several California-based School of Business alumni to visit and learn their thoughts on Mason.

With a significant majority of Mason alumni remaining close to the Fairfax campus, it is especially eye-opening to have conversations with those who have moved further away. “The biggest takeaway from my alumni meetings—which may sound a little cheesy—is that distance truly makes the heart grow fonder,” says O’Neill. The alumni cherish fond memories of their times as students, but they are also impressed with the institution’s current state. “Mason’s growth and now national impact is recognized here perhaps more than Northern Virginia regional alumni and residents imagine,” says Kevin Colgate, BS Business Administration ’75. Several alumni who also graduated from additional universities were far more interested in what Mason was doing than anywhere else. They are forever Patriots.

After seeing how inspiring their Mason memories were from years ago, O’Neill recommends more faculty take the time to meet with alumni. “When I returned to Mason, I felt so much more reenergized knowing the difference we have in students’ lives, even decades later,” she says. It is easy to take Mason Business for granted when you have lived in the region for a long time. Similar to admiring a piece of artwork, sometimes you have to take a few steps back for a better appreciation.

Mason is a place where no one is an outsider, having a student body representing more than 130 countries and all 50 states. Jackie Kalinowski, BS Management ’18, was one of just two students from her New Hampshire high school to attend college in Virginia and she too believes her perspective is different from those who grew up locally. “The opportunities that the School of Business made available to me are unparalleled, and I am forever grateful for the professors that helped me in finding my calling along the way,” she says. The tremendous resources at the School of Business is a recurring theme when speaking with other alumni and friends of the School.

Perhaps the best way to examine the success of the School of Business is by taking a look at its alumni. With their countless stories of achievement and gratitude, it is clear that our School of Business is flying high.