New GMU center puts special focus on the GovCon industry

George Mason University has created a government contracting-dedicated center in its business school to attract students and train them in the nuances of the GovCon industry.

After all this is a $500 billion a year market with 1.5 million in separate federal contracting actions each year, said John Hillen, executive-in-residence and professor of practice at George Mason's School of Business. He also is the former CEO of Sotera.

"There's not a business school in the country that specializes in the highly unique business issues that animate your lives and animated my life as a CEO in this space,” he said at an event promoting the program.

The program will consist of certifications and add-ons to MBA programs that add a special focus and lend expertise in the government contracting arena. Different certifications will focus on things like government contracts accounting and contract formation and administration.

There is also a class, Hillen said, called “From Tech to Exec” that helps those people who are very technically skilled but lack business and management skills.

“Sometimes 30 percent to 40 percent of classes are tech management or MBA students, so these are already people in our space,” Hillen said. “This is our community in many ways. To not grasp a little bit of our energy and center it around this community would be a missed opportunity.”

The center has affiliated faculty and it will sponsor industry and government fellows. On the latter, Hillen mentioned how important it could be for people high in the government to get to know industry better.

The center will also work with other centers at George Mason, including the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We’ll flex, in the GovCon center, every single muscle that a research university flexes,” Hillen said.

Right now is the time for companies to get involved. Sponsoring events meant to publicize and facilitate this center is a good way to do this, Hillen said, and a great way to give students exposure to companies in the industry.

So far, the center has raised $1 million. “We’re looking to raise $3 million and name this center, but we’re not waiting to be a center before we start producing,” Hillen said. “Our goal is to get to $3 million and raise the visibility of this center and the school and university with the single biggest industry in the Northern Virginia area.”

Click here to explore the program further on the George Mason website.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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