Korean Studies Center

Liasson, Moon, Stearns Headline CHSS Convocations

by Rashad Mulla

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences welcomes a trio of powerful speakers for its convocation ceremonies this May.

Mara Liasson, political contributor for the FOX News Channel and national political correspondent for National Public Radio, will address graduating seniors at the college’s undergraduate convocation for the humanities and interdisciplinary studies. Ilryong Moon, chairman and member at large of the School Board for Fairfax County Public Schools, will speak at the college’s undergraduate convocation for students majoring in the social sciences. To round out the impressive group, Peter Stearns, Provost at George Mason University, will give a talk at the college’s graduate convocation.

The convocation schedule is as follows:

Graduate Convocation

  • Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m., Patriot Center
  • Featured Speaker: Peter Stearns

Undergraduate Convocation (Humanities and Interdisciplinary Programs)

  • Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m., Patriot Center
  • Featured Speaker: Mara Liasson

Undergraduate Convocation (Social Sciences)

  • Friday, May 17, 10 a.m., Patriot Center
  • Featured Speaker: Ilryong Moon

Mara Liasson joined the FOX News Channel in 1997 and serves as a panelist on "FOX News Sunday," the station’s public affairs program that airs nationwide each Sunday morning. She joined NPR in 1985 as a general assignment reporter and newscaster. Liasson's reports can be heard on the award-winning newsmagazines, "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." During her tenure, she covered the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR's White House correspondent during all eight years of the Clinton administration.

Liasson received a Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism from Columbia University, and the recognition continued throughout her professional career. She has received numerous awards and honors for her reporting, including the White House Correspondents' Association Merriman Smith Award in 1994, 1995, and 1997 for excellence in daily news reporting. Liasson earned her bachelor's degree from Brown University.

Ilryong Moon became the first Asian American elected to a public office in Virginia when he won the Braddock District seat on the Fairfax County School Board in November 1995. This is his 14th year on the Fairfax County School Board, with the last 10 years as an at-large member. He is currently the chairman of the School Board and also served as the chairman in 2006. He served twice as the School Board’s vice chair and was on the Fairfax County Planning Commission in 2000-2003. Moon is a partner in the law firm of Moon, Park & Associates in Fairfax, Virginia.

Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1957, Moon immigrated to the United States with his family, arriving at Dulles International Airport in 1974. He attended T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated in 1977. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1983. He received his bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, and a law degree from the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

Moon spoke excitedly of the upcoming convocation speech.

"I am hoping to be able to share some of my personal stories that the graduating seniors can relate to, take to their hearts, and remember as they embark upon another chapter in their life," he said. "As [George Mason University] has been taking a bigger role as a higher education institution, not only in Virginia but also nationally, there are higher expectations of personal successes by, and contributions to the community from, its graduates in all their future endeavors."

Peter Stearns became Provost and Professor of History at Mason on January 1, 2000. He has taught previously at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Rutgers, and Carnegie Mellon; he received his AB, AM, and PhD degrees at Harvard University. He has authored or edited over 100 books. He has published widely in modern social history, including the history of emotions, and in world history. He has also edited encyclopedias of world and social history, and since 1967 has served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Social History.

Stearns has worked to expand research capacities, to add or enhance centers of strength such as the arts, biomedical research and education, and public health, and to increase the global activities and educational goals of the university. He has helped establish new facilities to promote teaching excellence and has encouraged a range of interdisciplinary and inter-unit programs. While under Stearns’ leadership, George Mason University was awarded the 2006 Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. Also in the area of international education, he wrote, "Educating Global Citizens in Colleges and Universities," published in December 2008.

His speech to the attendees of the graduate convocation will be about conducting research "of consequence," and how that constitutes a challenge for social sciences and humanities practitioners and researchers. 

"The [graduating students] have either recently generated research in the social sciences and humanities, or they certainly consumed it as part of their programs," Stearns said. "They can help us in the task of defining what 'consequence' means in their respective fields."

In the college’s biggest convocation season ever, it will deliver a power-packed slate of speakers.

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