Profile of a Senator January 2022

Meet Will Gautney, Staff Senator and Assistant Master Electrician, Center for the Arts, College of Visual and Performing Arts

William Gautney, Assistant Master Electrician, Center for the Arts, College of Visual and Performing Arts. Photo by Creative Services

Role: Alongside the Master Electrician and our other great hourly and classified staff, I help make sure the needs of performances at our venue are met. There’s a bit of prep paperwork, programming, physical labor, and design mixed with a lot of quick problem solving and a dash of crew management.

Mason journey: I started as an “overhire” stagehand (fancy theatre term for “can do just about anything part-time hourly wage staff”) in late 2013, and continued part time off and on for many years. While working with various theatre companies across the country, I’ve been a master carpenter, technical director, painter, props artisan, stitcher, house manager, electrician, rigger, and even (terribly) mixed audio for a middle school’s version of Beauty and the Beast. Even after working with so many companies, the staff at Mason’s Center for the Arts were those I felt most at home with, and I was fortunate in September 2018 to be offered a full-time position.

The “before times”: A typical week in a season (school year) consisted of shows every day or two, with occasional week-long residencies for dance, opera, or student groups. We also typically had at least one day each week for changing over scenery and lights, which needs pre-planning, paperwork, and lots of coordination. After graduations our schedule typically became much less crunched, and we could maintenance at our own pace during time available between new student orientations on stage and other smaller events.

Covid-19 transition: When the world stopped, the arts were hit heavily. Fortunately, thanks to some creative thinking, we were able to assist Mason in other ways. It required a lot of tutorial videos and practice, but several of us were able to transition into running things behind the scenes for digital shows and editing their archival recordings, while the rest were able to help Mason students by making sure classes could safely transition to our large open theater space. You can check out both the Center for the Arts’ or the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s YouTube pages to see some of how we were able to keep the arts alive.

Best thing about working for Mason: I love working with faculty, staff, students, and outside clients to make their shows look great. The variety of shows, groups, and functions help to scratch that fast-paced puzzle-solving itch that comes with working in live theater, but with an added benefit of developing long-term working relationships granted by being at just one stable venue. I also really enjoy helping guide the growth of student talent and skills during and after their time at Mason.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: There are often choices, decisions, and policies made that directly impact – yet often overlook – part-time and hourly staff. I wanted to serve as an advocate for those often-forgotten roles who work odd hours, on the weekends, or during holidays.

Additionally, I enjoy being able to hear and have an impact on what is going on around campus, as well as help to promote initiatives, staff, and departments that might otherwise be left as just a footnote in their unit’s newsletter. Even before Covid, Mason sometimes felt like lots of little bubbles, so it’s wonderful to be able to expand my connections and work with so many other departments and voices.

 Unique fact: Shortly after college my left eyebrow decided to go white overnight. Since it didn’t bother me, I decided to keep it that way…but it definitely makes me easier to spot in a crowd!

 At the end of the day: Though I grew up surrounded by tons of animals, I currently am just a cool cat dad to one black, very food-obsessed, cat. I’m glad to be able to work with such a wide array of wonderful and quirky people. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done, especially when it comes with time or effort, and I try to keep that drive with my work at Mason. Also, come visit us, watch a show, or just support local businesses and the arts!

January 2022

Upcoming Performances at Mason

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Vasily Petrenko, music director
Kian Soltani, cello
Saturday, January 29, at 8 p.m.
Center for the Arts
Celebrate the diamond jubilee anniversary of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a program featuring one of the world’s most sought-after cellists, Kian Soltani. Under the direction of its new Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, RPO is recognized as one of the world’s most forward-thinking and boundary-pushing symphony orchestras. This stunning concert of cherished works is the perfect performance to reconnect with live, classical music. A pre-performance discussion will take place in Monson Grand Tier, which is located on the third level of the Center for the Arts Lobby, 45 minutes prior to curtain.

Virginia Opera: Three Decembers

Saturday, February 5, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 6, at 2 p.m.
Center for the Arts
By Jake Heggie with libretto by Gene Scheer, Virginia Opera’s production of Three Decembers is a two-act chamber opera about family— the ones we are born into, and those we create. Based on Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s unpublished play, Some Christmas Letters, this new addition to the repertoire grapples with contemporary issues wrapped in timeless music. Sung in English with English surtitles.

The Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic Orchestra

Saturday, February 5, at 8 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts Center
Traveling far from the cultural hotspot in Gdansk on the Baltic Sea, the Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic Orchestra will rouse spirits with an evening of innovative works that explore themes of resiliency and freedom. Formed in 1944 out of the ashes left from World War II, the orchestra has grown to become the largest music institution in eastern Poland and often features the most prominent Polish musicians and many world-famous artists.

January 2022

Climate Action Plan Town Hall #3

The Mason community is invited to virtually attend the university’s third Climate Action Plan (CAP) Town Hall on Friday, January 28, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The development of a new CAP will help Mason decrease its environmental impact as part of the university’s accelerating response to the climate crisis.

During the Town Hall, the Mason Sustainability Council’s Carbon Neutrality Task Force, Dumont Janks, and Arup will provide an overview of the CAP process and share updates about progress made thus far. 

Mason Patriots are encouraged to suggest ideas, offer feedback, and ask questions during the Town Hall. Resources and opportunities for the Mason community to further participate in the CAP process and provide feedback will also be shared.

Climate Action Plan Town Hall #3
Friday, Jan. 28
Noon to 1:30 p.m.

The recordings of the first and second Town Halls can be viewed here. 

Read more on the Climate Action Plan website. 

Submit feedback and ask questions using the CAP Feedback Form. 

Contact Ben Auger (he/they), Communications Specialist, Mason Sustainability Council, at with questions. 



January 2022

Join the Support Group for Working Mothers at Mason

The Support Group for Working Mothers at Mason is one way faculty, staff, and students can come together, discuss the issues confronting working mothers, and motivate changes on campus. The group will continue to meet via Zoom this semester.

If you are interested in sharing stories and being part of an informal organization of working mothers, join an upcoming meeting or visit the website for additional meeting dates and more information.

January 2022

Updates from Parking and Transportation

Guaranteed Ride Home

If you’re a faculty or staff member who bikes, carpools, vanpools, uses mass transit (e.g. bus, Metro) or walks to work at least two times per week, Parking and Transportation wants you to know that you always have a ride backup with Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH). Sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), it’s free to sign up and free to use.

Once you register, you can use GRH up to four times per year. If a qualifying emergency arises, call Commuter Connections, and they will arrange transportation for you (e.g. taxi, car rental, transit). It’s a good idea to sign up before you need it. Conditions apply; visit here for details and to register.

Nominations Open: Rick Holt Active Transportation Advocate Award

The Rick Holt Active Transportation Advocate Award honors Rick, “the Mason bike dude,” who passionately advocated for and encouraged active transportation at Mason and beyond. Nominations are open for this new award, and the recipient will be recognized at the Outstanding Achievement Awards in April.

If you know a faculty or staff member who embodies Rick’s enthusiasm and commitment, we encourage you to submit a nomination.

Love to Bike? Winter Bike to Mason Day on February 11

Winter Bike to Work Day is the Friday before Valentine’s Day! Join us on February 11 for a little bike love. Stop by the Merten Hall Lawn between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. with your bike for a beverage and some biking-related giveaways.

Reminder: Mason Shuttles Spring Service

Spring service began on Monday, January 24, for all routes except the On-Demand shuttle. On-Demand has moved to a weekend-only service. Fixed route service has been added to help address the reduction in On-Demand service. The West Campus shuttle will operate from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. (Monday–Friday), and the Student Townhouses has been added as a stop on the Sandy Creek to Metro shuttle for spring 2022.

The Arlington/Fairfax route has one bus (down from two) with service every two hours, and a stop has been added at Rappahannock River Lane. Both Sandy Creek to Metro and Gunston Mason are starting one hour later at 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m., respectively.

A complete list of changes and the spring 2022 individual route schedules are available at If you have any questions, reach out to us at or by phone at 703-993-2828. 

January 2022

Staff Senate Sustainability Tip: January 2022


Did you know that you can’t recycle a pizza box? Pizza boxes are made from corrugated cardboard, and when soiled with cheese, grease and other foods – they become a recycling no-go! 

January 2022

February General Meeting Announcement


The February Staff Senate meeting will feature David Farris, executive director of safety and emergency management. David will provide updates on Mason community COVID cases and current COVID safety policies and protocols.

Wednesday, February 2
10 a.m. to noon
General Business Meeting 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (agenda)
Guest speaker will present 11 a.m. to noon
Hosted on Zoom
Passcode: SS123
Call in: 301-715-8592 or 267-831-0333
Webinar ID: 939 9974 9658/ Passcode: 224754

The Staff Senate collected questions for consideration in advance.  If time permits, the Staff Senate will take questions during the live session.

The Staff Senate represents all classified and non-student wage employees at George Mason University. Working closely with university administration, we address concerns that have an impact on the quality of work-life for the Mason community. The work of the senate is accomplished through open and continuous communication with its constituents. Find more ways to engage with the senate before, during, and after our general meetings. You may also add a hold to your calendar for our monthly meetings by clicking here.