Quarterly Quill August 2020

Strategic Plan

Dear University Life Staff,

I am happy to announce the launch of the University Life 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. As the higher-education landscape continues to change, student affairs professionals must be prepared to evolve and provide support and service in creative and innovative ways; this includes responding to the diverse needs of various emerging and growing student populations and responding to the social, global, and economic conditions that our students are facing. It is in that context that I asked the UL Strategic Planning Committee to be bold and forward-thinking in the development of our next four-year plan - they have done just that. Our vision is clear – Every Student Succeeds. We will continue to work toward the goal of supporting every student as they create their futures at Mason. Our mission is clear – creating communities that embody the principles of inclusive well-being, lifelong learning, and ethical leadership. And we remain committed to a strong return on investment for all our students, i.e. graduating students at higher rates who are seeking greater prosperity for themselves and their families, and who are engaged and passionate about the work and the world that is waiting for them to make their mark. The four thematic areas embedded in this plan - Inclusive Thriving Communities, Engage All Students, Holistic Student Support Services, and Organizational Excellence - are cornerstones that build a solid foundation for our work over the next four years.

As we finalize the plan, we are working to welcome back a student body that is feeling the effects of the worldwide global pandemic that is the coronavirus. We are also hearing from a student body that has both witnessed and participated in the mass protests that have occurred around the globe demanding racial and social justice. While the next few months could have an enormous financial impact on our ability to move our work forward, it will also present opportunities for us to reimagine our work in ways that we hadn’t previously thought possible. And as so many higher education professionals have managed a quick shift into areas previously thought to be unworkable, we are living in the possibilities of serving our students in new ways while feeling an urgency to create just and equitable communities in which they can thrive. We strongly believe that the goals and strategies outlined in this plan will position us well to address these and other challenges ahead. I am deeply appreciative of everyone that participated in the development of this plan, and all those who provided feedback to strengthen our work with students. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Creston Lynch, Kirk Vandebrooke, and Jana Hurley for leading our efforts. Various strategic planning committees spent countless hours discussing current trends in higher education, the needs and interests of our students, and our responsibility to assist students in their pursuit of higher education so they could find their passions, reach their goals, and become ethical leaders and citizens. The plan is the culmination of their work and our commitment to our students’ futures.

Rose B. Pascarell
Vice President, University Life

University Life’s Summer 2020 Student Emergency Assistance Fund (The Summer Fund), which opened May 26, has seen over 1,150 requests for help so far. The Fund continues to address the needs of students who face unexpected financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Summer Fund has disbursed $820,790 to date and assisted 603 Mason-enrolled students with emergency needs such as rent payments, utilities, food, medical bills and health insurance, and laptops to continue their learning. Emergency funding for summer closes on August 7. Applications for Fall 2020 emergency assistance funding are available beginning August 17. 

University Life is grateful for the continued support of Mason’s Giving Day, Patriots Helping Patriots, and funding from the CARES Act, which all provide much-needed assistance to Mason students. See more information on Student Emergency Assistance Fund.

Orientation takes on new meanings as we adjust to changing concepts of safety and social interactions. At George Mason University, New Student Orientation helps students navigate the many paths open to them as incoming members of the Mason Nation, now in a virtual format.

Digitizing a program that traditionally uses face-to-face interactions to help students make the connections they need to thrive in a new environment with new responsibilities is an ambitious task. And that is exactly what New Student and Family Programs (NSFP), a department of University Life, has done, all in the space of two months.

"The flexibility and dedication to serve our new students and families and to provide them with this important program in a completely new way has made me so proud to be a part of the Mason community," said Rick Gray, NSFP Director.

Read the full article

Learning Communities provide Mason students opportunities to connect with peers who share common interests, majors, and identities; engage with faculty inside and outside the classroom; and participate in transformational experiences throughout their time at Mason.

The global pandemic means prioritizing student health and safety through social distancing, which in turn means reduced occupancy for residence halls. With a need to maximize resources to support both new and returning students, challenges were presented to Mason’s Learning Community program.

The Office of Housing and Residence Life leaned into this unique opportunity to provide an enriching learning community experience for students with Virtual Learning Communities. These Virtual Learning Communities (VLC) are designed to foster the same sense of community but in a new and exciting format.

Read the full article.

Dear Mason Faculty and Staff,

Our students are experiencing an unusually challenging time in their lives. In addition to their daily responsibilities, they must now navigate a global pandemic, a struggling economy, and increased tensions in the mounting fight for racial justice as racism and racist violence continue to create suffering and trauma for our Black students and communities of color. The accumulation of these stressors means more students than ever are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health concerns.

Mason’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) understands the growing demand for mental health care during this time, and we have worked diligently to expand and improve services to meet these needs. We are committed to making mental health care accessible to all students. As part of this work, we have increased support for students who require after-hours crisis intervention.

Beginning July 15, 2020, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is partnering with Protocall Services to provide after-hours crisis services for Mason students. Protocall is a crisis hotline staffed by licensed clinicians to provide crisis intervention and referral services from 5:00 pm to 8:30 am Monday to Friday and 24 hours on weekends. Students may call Protocall for reasons ranging from anxiety or relationship distress to suicidal ideation or other serious mental health issues.

If you are faculty or staff member with concerns about a student:
If you call CAPS at 703-993-2380 between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, then the CAPS office will assist you. After normal business hours and on weekends, you will be directed to press 1 in order to connect Protocall with the student in need. Protocall can also provide guidance to faculty or staff on how to support a student in crisis.

If a student is experiencing a medical emergency or is in a life threatening situation, please contact 911 directly, and clearly state the student’s location (on campus or off campus) for an immediate response. Mason Police may also be called for assistance at 703-993-2810.


Rachel Wernicke, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Chief Mental Health Officer
University Life

Jennifer Kahler, Psy.D.
Director Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

New To University Life

Please join us in welcoming our new colleagues as they join the University Life team!

Coalition Building and Diversity Education
Hamal Strayhorn, Director, Coalition Building and Diversity Education

Counseling and Psychological Services
Calena Creft, Counselor
Geneva Reynaga-Abiko, Associate Director, Clinical Services
Mandi Quay, Psychologist
Merrill Reiter, Psychology Intern
Nicole Hedrick, Psychology Intern
Phill Kroke, Psychology Extern
Raymond Bradni, Psychologist
Shereen Ayoubi, Psychology Extern
Thomas Rigg, Psychology Intern

Disability Services
Jennifer Early, Assistant Director, MASI

Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education and LGBTQ+ Resources
Crystal Davidson, Assistant Director, Student Engagement for Racial Justice
Lex Lewis-Semien, Assistant Director, Student Access and Equity

Housing and Residence Life
Patrick Dassira, Administrative Specialist
Brandon Ford, Community Director
Christian Rafael Suero, Assistant Director, Staff Development, Engagement, and Onboarding
Sasha Toophanie, Community Director

Mason Care Network
Allison Wallen, MCN Success Coach
Amira Aly, Success Coach, ADVANCE Success Coach
Ashley Marshall-Lanier, ADVANCE Success Coach
David Golden, Student Success Technology Manager
Glenda Cosby, MCN Success Coach
Samantha Cozzolini, MCN Success Coach
Taylor Dilley, MCN Success Coach
Micah Hodges, MCN Success Coach
TJ Pegg, Assistant Director, Training and Student Engagement
Susan Schott, MCN Success Coach
Krystal Wiley, Assistant Director, ADVANCE
Whitney Gaston, Assistant Director for the Mason Care Network

Mason Recreation
Rebecca Demus, Assistant Director, Fitness
Carissa Smith, Coordinator, Competitive Sports, Camps, and Special Events

New Student and Family Programs
Brittany Bailey, Administrative Specialist
Michelle Healey, Assistant Director, Orientation and New Student Programs

Student Health Services
Nour Alamiri, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator
Crystal DeJesus, Clinic Nurse
Crysta Fischer, COVID Team Registered Nurse
Paul Hanbury, Office Manager
Billal Khan, COVID Team Medical Assistant
Jennifer Monson, Nurse Practitioner
Stephen Wintermeyer, Associate Medical Director

Student Involvement
Tisheika Snow, Office Manager

Student Support and Advocacy Center
Shayna Marlowe, Assistant Director, Sexual and Interpersonal Violence and Student Support
Aripra Mohan, Graduate Advocate
Elizabeth Portaluppi, Office Manager
Shannon Osbourne, Assistant Director for Financial Well-Being
Aina Ramiaramanana, Graduate Advocate

University Life Advancement
Sally E. Richards, Program Coordinator/Student Emergency Assistance Fund

University Life Assessment
Christine Choi, Qualtrics Specialist
Elijah Earl, Assistant Director, Data Management
Christina Lee, Assessment Analyst

University Life Communications and Marketing
Melissa Taylor, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communication

University Life Project and Process Management
Tahisha Mayfield, Project Manager

University Life Technology Services
Deepali Nanda, Information Technology Support Specialist



University Life is committed to the growth, learning, and professional development of graduate students by providing high-quality, relevant experiences in various functional areas within student affairs-related units. Graduate Professional Assistants are invaluable members of the University Life division at George Mason University. We are so pleased to welcome the 2020-2021 University Life Graduate Professional Assistants to our units and teams!

Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education and LGBTQ+ Resources
Anna Cho, GPA for LGBTQ+ Resources | MA Higher Education and Student Development
Erin Fay, GPA for STEP | MA Higher Education and Student Development
Felicia Haynes, GPA for Student Engagement for Racial Justice | MA Higher Education and Student Development
Japneet Kohli, GPA for Student Engagement for Racial Justice | MS Data Analytics Engineering

Graduate Student Life
Austin A. Deray, GPA for Graduate Student Leadership and Advising | PhD Cultural Studies
Nikita Thadani, GPA for Graduate Student Engagement | M.Ed. Counseling and Development

Housing and Residence Life
Alexis Cherry, Beacon Hall GPA | MS Biology
Fatima Samham, GPA | M.Ed. Counseling
Miata Smith, GPA | MS Biology
Ryen Weaver, GPA | MS Forensic Science
Stephanie Reyes, GPA for Residential Academic Engagement | MA Social Work

Housing and Residence Life / Student Conduct
Justin Shirey, GPA of Community Standards (CS) | MA Higher Education and Student Development

Housing and Residence Life / Student Involvement
Nuria Piracha, GPA for Residential Student Engagement - The Ridge | Master of Public Health
Taylor Mallory, GPA for Residential Student Engagement | MA Higher Education and Student Development

Housing and Residence Life / Student Support and Advocacy Center
Gary Hooker, GPA for Student Care and Outreach | MA School Psychology

International Programs and Services
Jasmine Walmon, GPA for Intercultural Engagement | MA Global Affairs

LEAD Office
Derek R. Smith, GPA for LEAD | MBA

Learning Services
Aya Abdel-Kader, Graduate Coordinator for Learning Services | Master of Public Health
Rebecca Mattern, Graduate Coordinator for Learning Services | M.Ed. Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Mason Care Network
Meghan Davis, GPA for Student Success | MA International Commerce and Policy
Wai Ling Fong, GPA for the Patriot Experience | PhD Education

Mason Recreation
Alexandria Ricciuti, GPA of Aquatics | MS Sport and Recreation Studies
Christopher Baunoch, GPA of Marketing | MS in Sport and Recreation Studies
Michael Fisher, GPA of Outdoor Adventures and the EDGE | MS Kinesiology
Zill Raval, GPA of Well-Being | Master of Public Health Epidemiology

New Student and Family Programs
Damaris Paris, GPA for New Student Programs | MSW and MS Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Samaria Moss, GPA for Family Programs | M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
Taylor Campbell, GPA for New Student Programs | MA Higher Education and Student Development

Student Involvement
Chalon Johnson, GPA for Registered Student Organizations | M.Ed. Psychology
Hunter Bonton, GPA for Fraternity and Sorority Life | MA Higher Education and Student Development
Jane Aronds, GPA for Campus Events | MBA
Julianna Napiecek, GPA for Student Government | MA Higher Education and Student Development
Nhien Ho, GPA for Esports | Master of Health Administration

Student Support and Advocacy Center
Clarisa Meza-Negrete, GPA for Financial Well-Being | Master of Public Policy
Elizabeth Ayala, GPA for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Education | Master of Public Health
Mariam Abdelwahab, GPA for Student Support and Community Outreach | M.Ed. Counseling and Development

University Life Assessment
Drew Bonner, GPA for UL Assessment | MA Sociology

University Life Career Services
Caroline Simpson, GPA for University Career Services | MA Higher Education and Student Development

University Life Regional Campuses
Sang Jin Lee, GPA for UL Regional Campuses | PhD Education

University Life Well-Being Initiatives
Zimako Chuks, GPA Well-Being (University Life Central) | Master of Public Health