Matthys van Schaik came to George Mason University in 1996 after earning a PhD in international studies and a master’s degree in library and information science, both from the University of South Carolina. He was drawn to Mason after seeing an ad for a position for an international affairs librarian and instructor. “It was actually the most perfect thing in the whole world,” the South Africa native said. “You could imagine the job description was written for me. And that was my stroke of luck in life.”
His joining the Mason faculty also proved fortuitous for the Schar School of Policy and Government as van Schaik—known to all as “Thys” (pronounced “teas”)—worked his way into The Institute of Public Policy (TIPP), a budding entity which became Mason’s School of Public Policy, now known as the Schar School, where he eventually became associate dean for academic affairs. He retired from the position this summer after 25 years at Mason.
Thys would never admit it, but his dedicated efforts have been instrumental in the advancement of the Schar School, particularly in designing new programs and services. He expects the school to remain the nimble, progressive-minded institution it has become. “From my point of view, we have built a strong academic and administrative operation, and I hope that will continue,” he said.
Travel, when it’s freely permitted again, is among his future plans, but for now Thys plans to play more piano and continue sharpening his skills in the kitchen and in the garden. “And I hope to do some volunteer teaching English as a second language, and volunteering in other ways,” he added.