Academic Commitments

The globalized economy puts people in motion, whether by choice, necessity, or compulsion.  Much of the labor-related teaching and research at Mason coalesces around matters of immigration.  Mason faculty find immigration-related research and teaching opportunities nearby in Northern Virginia and around the world.  The topics they explore — cross-border human trafficking, community conflicts over immigrant day laborers, immigration economics, and policy — can overlap with the UNGC areas of human rights and anti-corruption.


Issues associated with immigrant labor are a focus for scholars in diverse departments and programs, including New Century College, Latin American Studies, and the Department of Social Work, English, and Sociology and Anthropology.  The keen interest in immigration, both among faculty and the general public, recently sparked the creation of a new research institute at Mason.  Launched in 2012, the Institute for Immigration Research conducts unbiased research to educate policy makers, media, teachers, students, and the business community about the contributions of immigrants as entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers.  Early research projects focus on mapping immigrants’ economic activity, as well as examining the economic impact of immigrants in higher education.


Preparing for Careers in the Academy is a credit-bearing course offered by Mason’s Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence.  The purpose of this program is to help students working on terminal degrees such as the PhD and the MFA to prepare for future academic careers and strengthen their institutional effectiveness.

Mason also participates in the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program, a national movement to transform the way aspiring faculty members are prepared for their careers.  The PFF program provides doctoral students, as well as some master’s and postdoctoral students, opportunities to observe and experience faculty responsibilities at a variety of academic institutions with varying missions, diverse student bodies, and different expectations for faculty.  Students come from several types of institutions such has historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, women’s colleges, and tribal colleges.  Mason’s relationship with Howard University has been productive, resulting in the hiring of more minority faculty members.

Beyond Academic Commitments


As a public institution in Virginia, George Mason University does not discriminate against state government employees and applicants for employment.  All individuals are afforded an equal employment opportunity without regard to race, gender, color, national origin, religion, age, veteran’s status, political affiliation, or disability.  A Governor’s Executive Order also prohibits retaliation against those persons filing a complaint or persons participating in the investigation of a complaint.


The state-level Office of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR) provides state agencies and their employees a broad range of workplace dispute resolution tools that ensure solutions to workplace conflict consistent with Virginia’s human resource policies and related law.  Mediators assist people in conflict to explore differences and develop solutions to their concerns.  EDR offers online and classroom training on such topics as workplace conflict, grievance procedures, and the disciplinary process.  An AdviceLine provides confidential consultation on employment rights and responsibilities, and how to resolve workplace conflict.


Since 2000, Mason has had a triennial Quality of Work Life survey.  The first two surveys (2000 and 2003) were conducted with a sample of Mason employees.  Beginning in 2006, all university employees were invited to participate in the survey.  The survey is comprehensive, touching on a number of work-life issues, including salary, benefits, work unit relationships, fairness, and autonomy and growth.  The findings are compiled by a distinguished faculty member in our Psychology Department.  Input from faculty and staff through the Quality of Work Life Survey has been responsible for the creation of our Telework and Flextime Policy (2002), renamed Flexible Work in 2008; the Mason shuttle between the Fairfax and Prince William Campuses, and much more.


Mason strongly supports flexible work schedules for its employees.  It has numerous flexible work options including a compressed work schedule, flextime, job sharing, remote work, and telework.  Mason has found that flexible work options can be a great strategic tool for faculty and staff retention; continuity of operations; productivity enhancement; and extended office coverage (compressed schedules).  For faculty and staff, the benefits including putting commuting time to a different purpose, reducing commuting costs, enhancing productivity, and creating work-life balance.


As a public institution of higher education within Virginia, Mason follows the procurement procedures and processes outlined by the state legislature.  These state that preference shall be given to goods produced in Virginia and to good, services, or construction provided by Virginia persons, firms, or corporations.  In Mason’s requests for proposals, it gives preference to local products and businesses.


The Small Women- and Minority-owned Businesses (SWaM) program seeks to increase diversity in Mason’s vendor community.  Mason seeks to procure at least 40 percent of its products from SWaM organizations.  The university communicates with the delegated purchasing community on a continuing basis to emphasize the importance of diversity in procurement.  Mason conducts training and outreach to ensure SWaM businesses gain access to university contracting opportunities.


Mason chooses and works with vendors that share our commitment to sustainability.  Virginia requires that vendor’s contracts with the state must include the following: vendors must not discriminate because of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, or other basis.  The vendor needs to advertise that it is an equal opportunity employer; must comply with federal, state, and local laws and federal immigration laws; must have a drug-free workplace; and must have worker compensation coverage.  There are also preferences for vendors that are small businesses owned by women, minorities, and service-disabled veterans.  They must also have products with recycled content and less toxicity, and provide Virginia-based products and services.


The Office of Human Resources and Payroll has a specific policy that allows classified and wage employees time away from work to develop basic skills.  This no-cost training focuses on four objectives: develop and enhance employees’ skills, provide skills required by changes in the employee’s current position, secure basic skills to prepare an employee for advancement, and allow employees to obtain basic skills to perform their jobs.  More than 50 certificate programs and seminars are available to build employee skills.