DU Alumni / Magazine Feature / People

Mason stayed committed to DU, connected to students

Art Mason with wife Polly

Art Mason, pictured here with his wife Polly, dedicated much of his life to the University of Denver and its athletics department.

Art Mason’s relationship with DU spanned decades.

It began in 1948 when he became chairman of the insurance department. In 1966, he became the dean of the business school. He cheered on DU hockey for years, mentored students and donated funds to athletics.

And weeks before his death, Mason was enjoying dinner at a DU event.

“He thought and talked positively about most subjects, especially DU,” recalls business Professor Mark Levine.

He most certainly stayed committed to DU until the day he died, his colleagues say. Mason died July 24. He was 89.

“Art was a positive, wonderful, enthusiastic, lively and gregarious person. He was fun.

He wore a smile as others wear their shirt or blouse,” Levine says.

“I remember Art as the consummate professional,” says Bruce Hutton, business dean emeritus. “He always had the best interests of the college and the University at heart.”

Immediately, Mason connected with students at the University — even when they weren’t his own.

When Mason was the dean of DU’s business school, former DU hockey coach Murray Armstrong asked him to be an adviser to many of the hockey players. Then basketball coach Jack Rose asked him to do the same for his players.

“By the end I was doing it for five or six sports,” Mason said in 2008 for a University of Denver Magazine article.

In 1986, Mason was recognized for his service to athletics when the Dr. Art Mason Award was established to honor DU’s top hockey scholar-athlete.

It was no surprise the award was for hockey — Mason and his wife, Polly, had been season ticket holders for years.

But the couple wanted to do more than cheer on the Pioneers.

In February 2008, the Masons gave $200,000 for endowed scholarships in gymnastics and women’s basketball.

“We decided to come up with a new idea for giving — doing something different yet meaningful,” Mason had said. The idea was meaningful because it was meant to specifically support women’s athletics because those teams hadn’t received as many gifts for scholarships as men’s sports did.

Art Mason was born in Fremont, Neb., on June 10, 1921.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska in 1942 and 1947, and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958.  He served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946 and later became dean of the graduate school of business at Washington University.

When he became dean of DU’s business school in 1966, Mason said he would urge businessmen to become better people in general, not just professionally.

“We haven’t done a good job of showing how businessmen and people at all levels of corporate activity serve their community, and do it because they are successful in business and are making money,” he said in 1966. “It’s the successful businessman whose business and personal talents are both serving society and enabling more people to find an adequate and better life.”

And Mason himself bettered lives, his colleagues say.

“He always stepped up to leadership positions when the college needed him,” Hutton says. “But what I admired most about Art was that he was a genuine ‘university’ professor. His allegiance wasn’t just to the business school. He loved and contributed to the whole university.”

Mason’s wife of 66 years was a large part of those contributions.

“Polly is a perfect match. Each shared the same enthusiasm for life,” Levine says.

In addition to Polly, Mason is survived by daughters Judy Missery, Pam Madsen and Sally Mason, and granddaughter Alexandra.

Contributions in his memory can be sent to: Art and Polly Mason Scholarship Fund in Business, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, 2101 S. University Blvd., Denver, CO. 80208 or, Polly and Art Mason Endowed Scholarship Funds for Women’s Athletics, University of Denver, 2201 E. Asbury Street, Denver, CO. 80208.

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