Profile of a Senator December 2020

Meet Lesley Irminger: Staff Senator and Events Coordinator, University Events

Lesley Irminger, Events Coordinator, University Events, with her daughter, Sophie

Role: The Office of University Events oversees events on campus including commencement, groundbreakings, and the annual holiday party. I assist departments across our campuses in making their events a reality! I help them determine what their event needs are and how to achieve their goals. Sometimes this is by consulting and other times by managing their event. I am also the contracts coordinator for University Events. In this role, I work with community members who want to hold events on campus. These events range from small meetings to large-scale political events and are central to the university’s role as the cultural and educational anchor of our region.

Mason journey: I came to Mason in 2008 as a graduate student in the Arts Management Program. I started working with the Center for the Arts as a development assistant and assistant to the executive director. In 2010, I joined the College of Visual and Performing Arts full-time as their scheduling coordinator. In this role I also helped launch Series25, now 25Live, for the university by coordinating its use for the Center for the Arts and CVPA.

In 2016, I joined University Events in my current role.

COVID-19 transition: Our office had to 100 percent change how we do things when COVID-19 hit. Everything we did prior revolved around the personal connection of events and meeting in person. We shifted our team to fully remote and we have worked with our partners across campus like ITS, Enterprise Collaboration, GMU-TV, and others to assist our colleagues in transitioning to remote events. This has not always been easy, and we had challenges at the beginning, but I am proud to say that we have found ways to compromise and collaborate on some really great events. Examples are our virtual commencement and our annual holiday party. The events connect us as a campus community and help shape the Mason culture. In many ways, these events took on an even greater unifying role this year with so many of us working or studying remotely for most of 2020.

Best thing about working at Mason: I love Mason because of our motto in recent years, “Innovation is Tradition.” Mason fosters both individuality and diversity. Because of this, each member of our Mason Nation has a voice and the opportunity to grow outside of their work position. All our individual strengths lie within not only our communal goal, but our diversity. I find our diversity and our dedication to it to be one of the greatest strengths of Mason and one thing that sets us above the rest. Mason is also a family and we work as one family for the betterment of our Mason community.

As an artist/arts activist, in my mind “our football team” is our arts. We have two wonderful performing arts centers and a university-wide mission to support, promote, and cultivate the arts.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: I feel it is important for all staff to not only have an individual voice on campus, but a collective voice which is our Staff Senate. I want to be part of a group that fosters community, involvement, and appreciation in our staff and our university. I strongly believe Mason’s staff is the “heart” of Mason. My hope is by serving I can help those who often feel they do not have a voice, or who have yet to find that sense of community, find their voice and understand that staff is valued just as much as our students and faculty.

Unique fact: I grew up in East Tennessee, Oak Ridge, and moved to Auburn, Alabama upon graduating high school to pursue a degree in marine biology. While there I marched in the Auburn University Flag Corps and started taking theatre classes. I have always had a passion for the arts, but after three years of venturing into the arts I decided to make it a career. I moved back to East Tennessee and took a few years to “catch up” and earned my BA in theatre from the University of Tennessee. Come college football season you will often hear a dual “War Eagle and Go Vols” come out of my mouth!

At the end of the day: I am a mother (to 13-month-old Sophie), a wife, a daughter, and an arts advocate. I am proud of all the struggles in life and am thankful each day for its blessings. Despite everything 2020 brought, I found time to appreciate the blessing of being able to be a stronger and more present mother to Sophie. I want to be an example to her and those around me. My favorite quote is by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”