Featured Events

Spring – Summer 2021 Events

After a prolonged hiatus due to the pandemic the RFA is holding its first in person event — a “High Tea” at Rosemont Manor, which is about an hour from Mason on March 31 at noon.  This event will mainly be of interest to those who have been vaccinated.

On July 29, a picnic was held in Occoquan Regional Park attended by 11 Retired Faculty, a few of whom are shown below.

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Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 Events

  • Tues, Sept 3, 1030,  JC 326 Meeting Room B, Dr. Bryan Caplan, Economics Department,The case against education:  Why the education system is a waste of time and money,
  • Thurs, Sept 19, Visit to Glenstone museum, Potomac MD, see interesting article about it here.  The visit starts at 130, but we will meet for lunch at noon at the Lock 72 Kitchen & Bar, Potomac, MD.  Only 15 spaces have been reserved for Glenstone, so register early here.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 @ 6 p.m. “Sounding the Alarm,” a lecture by David Wallace-Wells, author of the book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” sponsored by Robert and Lucy Beck and Fall for the Book.
  • Sun, Nov 3, 3:00, Little Theatre of Alexandria, The Haunting of Hill House,” meet for dinner right afterwards at Taverna Cretekou, 818 King St.   Purchase tickets to LTA online on your own, but RSVP for the dinner by Oct 24.
  • Wed Nov 13 1030, JC rmc C (327), Dr. Jim Finkelstein and Dr. Judith Wilde, “The CEO-ization of the university presidency.”
  • Tues, Dec 10, 1PM Talk on the book “Intentionally Nice: A Simple Approach to Creating Kindness in Today’s Complicated World,” by the author, Don Conwell, Center for the Arts, Monson Grand Tier, R.S.V.P. to Emily Rusch, erusch2@gmu.edu or 703-993-3872.
    Tues Dec 10, 4:00, Merten Room 3300, Dr. Peter Stearns, History Department, on “Time in World History: When Did People Start Needing It?
  • Mon, Jan 13, 1:30, JC rm C. Dr. Bob Ehrlich, Physics & Astronomy (Emeritus) on: “Where are the time travelers?
    fact, fiction & speculations about time travel.”
  • Thurs, Feb 13, 3:00, JC rm G, Dr. Jim Pfiffner, onThe Lies of Donald Trump: A Taxonomy:The Trump Presidency and Executive Power
  • Tues, Feb 25 at 3:00, Dr. Linda Monson, Director of the School of Music will give a lecture on, “Music and Math: A Harmonious Intersection,” This lecture/recital held in the CFA Grand Tier will feature some student performers. Join us for engaging commentary filled with copious musical examples at the grand piano as math and music connections  are explored and beautifully illustrated in this unique lecture- recital format.  Learn about the incredible musical programming opportunities available through Mason’s School of Music and learn about the student scholarships and support of the Friends of Music at Mason (FOMM).
  • Wed, Mar 18, 10:30, JC rm B, Dr. Jim Bennett, Intercollegiate Athletics Inc, How Big-Time College Sports Cheat Students, Taxpayers and Academics.
  • (non-RFA sponsored event) Thurs, Mar 26, at 6pm, Dr. Nathan Myers, Van Metre Hall, Room 113, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington Campus, Policy vs Pandemics: Polarization and Public Health Emergency Preparedness.  This presentation will discuss how a lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans has hindered the ability of the nation to carry out essential public health emergency response functions, such as biosurveillance and the development and deployment of medical countermeasures.
  • Tues, Apr 21 Visit to Harper’s Ferry (rain date Apr 23), meet for breakfast at 8 AM at the Silver Diner 12251 Fair Lakes Parkway, & then carpool to Harper’s Ferry where we meet David Fox a retired park ranger who will lead a 2 hr tour just for us that focuses on John Brown’s raid, which led directly to the Civil War.  After lunch we return to Fairfax in the early afternoon, but part of the group may want to spend more time in HF.  Be aware that the HF tour includes a 2 hr (2 mi) walk on uneven ground.
  • Thurs, Thurs May 21 130, JC rm 327 (rm C), Dr. Michael Summers, Imagined Life:A Speculative Scientific Journey in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals.”

Fall 2018- Spring 2019 Events

  • Tues, Sept 4, at 1:00 PM, Dr. Maria Dworzecka, “One Holocaust survivor’s story,” JC room D (333).  See a movie about her life here.
  • Tues, Oct 9, at 1:00 PM, Mr. Robert Vay, “The Complete History of George Mason University up to Dr. Cabrera,”JC room C
  • Sun, Oct 28, at 3:00, “Dracula,” at The Little Theatre of Alexandria,  – meet for dinner right afterwards at Taverna Cretekou, 818 King St.   Purchase tickets to LTA online on your own, but RSVP for the dinner by Oct 24.
  • Tues, Nov. 13 at 1:30 PM, First meeting of a newly formed RFA “Travel Group,” JC room E.  In addition Dr. Yehuda Lukacs’ documentary film will be shown which chronicles a field trip taken by Mason students who traveled from Budapest to refugee camps in Serbia.
  • Thurs, Dec 6 at 130 PM, Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, The FBI Profiler and The Psychopath: A Glimpse into the Mind of this Most Devastating Personality Disorder,” , JC room E.
  • Sun, Jan 6 at 10 AM, CANCELLED meet at the Renwick Gallery, of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F St., NW.  The SAAM houses an exhibit by Trevor Paglen that blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us. See more... Note that the Renwick opens at 10:00, but the SAAM (where the Paglen exhibit is housed) opens at 11:30.  Meet for lunch at 1:00 at Roti Modern Mediteranian 1747 Pennsylvania Ave, NW.
  • Jan 31.  The new RFA Climate Change Group took an amazing tour of Scott Sklar’s zero-energy house and office buildings in Arlington
  • Mon, Feb 4 at 1030 AM, Dr. Steven Pearlstein, “How American Capitalism Lost its Moral Legitimacy, JC room G (337), based on his recent book “Can American Capitalism Survive?”
  • Mon, March 4 at 10:30 AM, Dr. Chris Hamner, “Enduring Battle  (or why soldiers fight),” JC room G(337), based on his 2011 book: Enduring Battle:  American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945,
  • Sun, Apr 7 at 2:30 PM visit to Huntley Meadows park, meet at the visitor’s center, 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA.
  • Tues, May 14 at 130 PM, Dr. Jane Flinn, “Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention,” Merten Hall: Human Resources Conference Room 4102.
  • Tues, May 21, 10:30, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (in Vienna) tour of the  gardens with commentary by Prof. Doug Mose on local geology.  Following this we had lunch at Bazins On Church (see below).
  • Wed, June 26 12:00, lunch at Taverna Cretakou in Alexandria followed by a ferry ride to and from National Harbor.  Please register for it by clicking on this link. Note that your registration is not complete until you enter your requested name & email fields when prompted to do so.
  • Sun, July 7, A free film showing at the “House of Sweden” (part of the Swedish Embassy) of the movie “A Man Called Ove,” by a famed Swedish director.  We will be meeting for a noon lunch at lunch at Chez Billy Sud, and then walking a short distance to see the film at 2PM.
  • Tues, July 30, 1230-130, a talk by Dr. Maryam Dadkhah, “A climate-friendly diet.”  in rm 4102 Merten Hall.  Dr. Dadkhah is a well-qualified nutritionist with a Ph.D. from the Univ of Colo, who has taught nutritional studies at the university-level.

 Fall 2017 — spring 2018

  • Sat, Sept 16, at 10AM Dr. Tom Wood, Visit to “Environmental Studies on the Piedmont,” 6712 Blantyre Road, Warrenton, Virginia, 703-963-0866.  Bring a dish for a pot-luck lunch, and wear appropriate footwear to walk in the woods.  A $10 donation is suggested to help support this non-profit enterprise.
  • Sun, Oct 8 at 2PM A play based on “1984” in the Theatre Space (buy tickets on your own — seniors half price), followed by a discussion of the play if interested (meet after play near rear 3rd floor elevators in the JC.)
  • Tues Oct 10 at 1030  meet in Old Angler’s Inn lotWalk along C & O canal & lunch at Inn. rain date Thurs, Oct 12
  • Wed, Nov 8, 11AM, Rm A in Johnson Center, Talk by Dave Hall with AARP on the Senior Driver
  • Mon Dec 11, 5 PM 163 Research Hall, Talk by Dr. Mike Summers on Life in the Universe, followed by a night sky viewing session in the observatory from about 5:40 to 6:40.  This event will be held rain or shine.  If it is cloudy or rainy the observatory tour (led by Joe Renaud) will cover some of the work we do and images we have taken with the telescope, but we would not be able to actually view anything.
  • Image result for george mason university observatory
  • Thurs, Jan 11, 12 PM tour of the National Firearms museum, meet for lunch in NRA cafeteria at noon followed by tour at 1 PM of the museum in Fairfax, 11250 Waples Mill Road
  • Take a FREE OLLI course over breakfast:
  • Mon, Feb 5, 1:00, rm 3301 Exploratory Hall, Lecture by Dr. Rex Wade, “Rethinking the Russian Revolution of 1917 a Century Later.”
  • Mon, Mar 5, 1:30, rm 3301 Exploratory Hall, Lecture by Dr. Evans Mandes, based on his recent book “Interpreting visual art: A survey of cognitive research about pictures.”
  • Thurs Apr 5, 1:00, rm 3301 Exploratory Hall, Lecture by Dr. Richard Rubenstein, “Drones, Stones and Thrones: How to resolve the war on terror.”
  • Thurs Apr 12, 12:00 Mason Club (in Pilot House), Luncheon honoring the RFA for its contributions to the Mason Community (RSVP by Apr 4).
  • Fri, May 4, 12:00, civil war battlefields and potluck lunch at the Ehrlich’s lake house in “Lake of the Woods” or LOW  (which is about 75 min from GMU).  The noon potluck lunch will be followed by a 2:00 presentation on the Battle of the Wilderness, as part of a walking tour of some area sites.  Those who prefer not to walk could instead just relax by the water.  The presentation will be by the president of the Civil War Study Group at LOW, Charles Brewer, who happens to be a Mason alum from its very first graduating class.  Please note that LOW is a gated community, so an RSVP is necessary to rehrlich@gmu.edu no later than May 1.  The Ehrlich’s LOW address will be supplied when you RSVP.  Here is a link to several interesting sites you might wish to visit if you come 30-60 min early (better for traffic).

Past events Fall 2016 — spring 2017

  • May 10,1030 AM— JC Room E — Talk by Don Boileau, on Effective Communication and Dealing with Difficult People
  • April 12, 1030 — JC Room E –Talk by Marion Deshmukh, Robert T. Hawkes Emeritus Professor of History, talk on German Art and Politics, based on her recent book.

March 22, 1130 AM —JC room E– Talk by Patrice Winter, Assistant Professor, Global and Community Health, will talk on “Aging in Place: Do not blame the house.”  Join Dr. Winter as she addresses easy-to-do modifications as well as more complex suggestions for better aging in place.  Patrice will also address how to work with changes in sight, balance, and physical abilities that may come with aging and how you can make your house work for you.

  • February 9, 2017, 7 PM: Talk by Jim Jones on “Cybersecurity: Sifting through Digital Trash for Fun, Profit, Catch the Bad Guys.”  Free Thai food is available  starting at 6:00PM.  This event is sponsored by “Galileo’s Science Cafe” (not the RFA), and it is held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA.  In good traffic it is only 30 min from the Fairfax campus, but do be sure to allow for rush hour traffic on 66!  You need to RSVP to Amy Adams by clicking on this link http://capmm.gmu.edu/node/138 if you wish to attend.  For more information on this event, and future events at Galileo’s Science Cafe select: http://capmm.gmu.edu/galileo-sciencecafe#Jones
  • Jan 12, 1030-1200 — Guided tour of National Cryptological Museum (on NSA grounds), followed by lunch at the Rams Head Tavern
  • Dec 14, 1030 AM – Guided tour of Luray Caverns with Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Doug Mose, The caverns are about 90 min from George Mason.  The address is 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA.  Carpooling is strongly recommended.  Tickets for seniors cost $23, but in the unlikely event we get a group of 20 the cost is only $17.  We will meet at the waiting area at 10:30.  After the tour a nice nearby place for lunch is the Gathering Grounds Patisserie, 24 E Main St, Luray, VA
  • Nov 10, 1030 AM, Talk by Tom Davis, current BOV Rector, former Congressman – his ‘take’ on the 2016 election results, Johnson Center, room B (3rd floor), 10:30 AM.
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  • Oct  12, 1030 AM – Guided boat tour of the river ecology starts at Pohick Bay Regional Park Boat Launch area, 6501 Pohick Bay Dr, Lorton, VA.  On this boat trip you will play a role in measuring Potomac River water quality.  The tour is led by Chris Jones, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, and Director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center.  See a video of our Sept 2014  event
  • Sept 14, 1030 AM  – Guided tour of Gunston Hall by docent Libby Hall
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Spring 2016

  • May 11, 2016 lecture by Jack Censer, Professor Emeritus of History,  “The evolution of revolutionary ideas”
  • April 13, 2016 lecture by David Keegan,  State Department Foreign Service Institute,  “The Chinese economy: Opportunities and challenges”
  • March 9, 2016 lecture,  by Rebecca Goldin, Professor of Mathematical Sciences, “Statistical slips in the media: how numbers make the news.” 

  • Feb 10, 2016 – lecture by Michael Summers Professor of Physics,  “The ‘New Horizons’ mission to Pluto:  What have we learned?”   See  interview with Mike and link to photos:  Keep Watch: Pluto-bound Spacecraft Flies by the Icy Planet
  • Jan 13, 2016 – 10:30 AM  Meet at U.S. Botanic Garden (next to U.S. Capitol.)  The tour though the tropical gardens was a wonderful break on a windy and cold January day. Our guide provided just the right level of detail–not overwhelming. We saw coffee and cocoa growing and plants used for scents in the commerce part of the exhibition space.  Our guide also introduced medicinal plants and the huge tropical canopy trees. Orchids were everywhere. The Garden is indoors, free, and near an Orange Line Metro stop (Federal Center). Afterwards a group of 9 went to the cafe at the American Indian Museum across the street. The cafe has five menus from five regions of tribes from the NW to Meso-American. Julie suggested that go to the Museum again as a group to see the exhibits.  

Past events Spring 2014 – fall 2015

  •  Dec 9, 2015 – 10:30 AM socializing & 11:00 AM. Lecture by Karen Bune, Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, “Victimization of the Elderly and Senior Population,”
  •  Nov 11, 2015 -10:30 AM socializing & 11:00 AM. Lecture by Robert Lichter, Professor of Communication and Director, Center for Media and Public Affairs, “Talking past Trump: Candidate communications in the 2016 presidential elections.”  
  •  Oct 14, 2015 – 10:30 AM socializing & 11:00 AM. Lecture by Douglas Mose, Professor of Chemistry, “Fresh Water:  (a) Future Global Availability, and (b) An Assessment of the Risks and Benefits of Fracking.”   
  •  Sept 9, 2015 – 10:30 AM, Visit Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens,  4155 Linnean Avenue, NW Washington, DC.  For adult visitors a $18 donation is suggested.  Following our visit (expected to take 2-3 hours), we plan to meet for lunch at the Hillwood Cafe — please RSVP, so that we can arrange a group tour.  A 16-min video about the gardens and the mansion can be found here.  For more info see their web siteLunarCarousel1



  • Sun, May 17, 2015, 11:00 Annual Brunch in “Georges.”  Brief presentation with Q and A by Provost Wu.  Following the buffet Garry Kreps from the Department of Communication spoke on “Communicating about Health.




  • Sunday, April 26, 2015,  2:00  Walk through the Piedmont research station with Dr. Tom Wood, Associate Professor of Integrative and Interdisciplinary StudieIMG_1876s in New Century College and Director of Environmental Studies on the Piedmont, a 1000 acre research station at 6712 Blantyre Rd, Warrenton, VA.  Following a brief introduction to the field station, we walked to vernal pools to see amphibians and migrating birds.

(below: walking group with our guide, Tom.  Photo on right:  Janice Sutera feeIMG_1885ding a resident swan.)  Some of us sat on the porch and watched the swans on the lake.  Also accompanying us was Anaya, a Mescalaro Apache elder.     We had a wonderful cookout and pot luck dinner, conversing for several hours!   For more info about the research station see: http://envstudies.org/directions.html.  Note that this is a fantastic educational facility run by a very knowledgeable faculty member.  For opportunities to volunteer, see the preceding web site.



  • Thurs, April 9, 2015, Noon, Merten Hall (old University Hall) 1204.  Carla Marcantonio, Assistant Professor, Film and Media.  Topic: new trends in cinema “Melodrama: Imaging the Human, Imagining the World.”
  •  Wed, March 4, 2015, Wine & cheese 7;00, talk 7:30, JC  room B.  Richard Rubinstein, University Professor, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Topic: “Conflict Resolution and the War on Terror: Are There Alternatives to Violence?”
  • Thurs, Feb 12, 2015, Wine & cheese 7;00, talk 7:30, JC  room B.  Paulette Royt, Associate Professor of Biology Retired, Topic: A presentation on native plants for amateur gardeners
  • Thurs, January 22, 2015, Wine & cheese 7;00, talk 7:30, JC  room B   Carol C. Mattusch, Mathy Professor of Art History, Emerita, “Pompeiian Dreams: Myths and Realities about the ancient Romans on the Bay of Naples,”  18th-century rediscovery of the ancient towns and villas on the Bay of Naples and the impact of those finds between the 18th and the 21st centuries. Richly illustrated!
  • Thurs, November 13, 2014, 12:30, Johnson Center Room B  Steven Pearlstein, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, Post columnist, spoke on the subject of his latest book: The Moral Contradictions of Capitalism
  • Fri, November 7, 2014,  first floor room in Merten Hall (formerly University Hall)  Panel presentations and discussion:  “What am I doing in retirement? “  Paulette Royt,  Joe Kanyan, Brien Benson, Bob Ehrlich
  • Thurs, October 2, 2014,  7 PM, Johnson Center Room B   Janine Wedel, University Professor; School of Policy, Government and International Affairs. Topic:“Defining Corruption Down: How the West Created an Anti-Corruption Industry and Put Blinders on Its Own Misdeeds.” 7:00: Wine, biscuits and socializing. Seminar style talk began at 7:30 with Q & A following.
  • Thurs,  September 25, 2014, 7 PM, Johnson Center Room B   Conversation about the Theater Productions in Washington with Christoper Griffin, former lecturer at GWU and frequent presenter at Smithsonian and Politics and Prose on theater production, Shakespeare and Irish literature.  7:00 Wine, biscuits and socializing. Seminar style talk began at 7:30 with Q & A following.
  • September 9, 2014: Chris Jones, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, and Director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center spoke to us on “Water Quality and Living Resources in Gunston Cove and Tidal Potomac River.” A guided tour of the river ecology on a Mason boat at Pohick Bay Regional Park – Boat Launch area.  See a video of our boat ride,

Spring 2014 (1st RFA event was Feb 23, 2014)

  •  Douglas Mose, Geology professor, Sunday, May 18, 2014 1:30 3:30 — a walking tour  FOLLOWING : an OPTIONAL pot-luck picnic at noon.   Dr. Mose led a walking tour of the Virginia side of Great Falls, featuring the Potomac River geology, including the origin of the Appalachian Mountains, earthquakes and volcanoes, evolution and extinction, and the birth of the Atlantic Ocean.  For GPS the address of Great Falls Park in VA is 9200 Old Dominion Dr. McLean.
  • Jane Snowdon, Thurs, May 15, 2014, 7:30-9:00 PM, socializing at 7:00 Room 3301 Exploratory Hall, “The Coming Era of Cognitive Computing,”  Cognitive Computing reflects an inflection point in the information technology industry comparable in impact to the entrance of the mainframe computer in the early 1960s, the personal computer in 1981, and the commercialization of the Internet in 1995, which gave rise to the World Wide Web. Today’s modern computers are architected and programmed to perform clearly defined tasks. Tomorrow’s cognitive systems, using natural language processing and machine learning technologies, will learn and reason, communicate naturally with humans through voice commands and gestures, and generate their own novel insights.   Dr. Snowdon is the chief Innovation Officer, IBM Federal and Director, IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center.
  • Provost Peter Stearns, Thursday, April 17, 2014. 7:00-9:00 PM, in “The Hub” (SU2) — rooms 3 & 4, “The  History of Old Age,”  When the topic again gained attention and why; what we have learned about the complexities of old age in premodern societies, and 19th and 20th century concerns, and why the subject declined as a historical focus and whether it should be revived.
  • stearns    Harold Geller, Thurs, March 27, 2014,  7:30-9:30 PM in Showcase (at foot of the Observatory tower — see below)Dr. Harold Geller, weather permitting,  will lead a tour of the night sky.   Tour will include the planets, and nebulae seen through Mason’s 32 inch refracting telescope.  In case of clouds, Professor Geller will speak on his research specialization, the prospects for finding life on other planets, the Kepler project and the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Life).
  • Andrew Carle, Annual BrunchSunday, February 23, 2014, 11:00 AM, Brion’s Grill — brunch and lecture. Hear an exciting lecture on Nana Technology: Improving the Quality of Life for Seniors, by Dr. Andrew Carle, professor of Health and Human Services, George Mason University.  See his presentation slides here.