Merten Call

“Talk of the Nation” is not heard in the Knoxville area. My wife and I were driving through Virginia on Monday when I heard a promo for an upcoming show featuring George Mason University president Dr. Alan Merten. This past March, Merten announced that he will retire in June, 2012.

I graduated from GMU during the term of Merten’s predecessor, Dr. George W. Johnson. I met Merten a couple of times, including at a memorable alumni dinner aboard the Queen Mary. He has done a great job for the school. I eagerly programmed the podcast into my WiFi clock radio and listened to it today.

George Mason is dealing with the double-whammy of losing both Merten and men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga. The coach wasn’t mentioned during the broadcast. Neither was basketball, which seemed odd to me. The topic of the interview was “How to Reinvent an Institution.” Merten joined GMU when it was “a provincial commuter campus that needed to grow into a major university.”

It’s a good interview that is more about management style than about George Mason. Parts reminded me of “In Search of Excellence.” Set aside a half-hour and listen to it yourself.

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