About George Mason
The university president developed George Mason's Vision Statement, after discussions with many others who care about the future of this vibrant institution, to give clarity to George Mason's fundamental character and aspirations. The vision is forward-looking and identifies the distinctive attributes and strengths of the university that are believed to be most important to its future.
The Innovative University for the Information Society
George Mason will be the university needed by a region and world driven by new social, economic, and technological realities.
We are in the right place: The nation's capital region is the epicenter of the world's political web, its information and communications network, and its new economy.
We are ready: In an age that demands originality and imagination, George Mason is among the nation's most innovative universities.
George Mason will:
by Alan G. Merten
President, George Mason University
A Distributed University
George Mason University is a distributed university with three campuses in Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William counties, and two satellite sites in Herndon and Reston. Each campus has a distinctive academic focus that plays a critical role in the economy of its region. At each campus, students and faculty have access to all the university's resources, while duplication of programs and support services is minimized through the use of technology. In addition to the campus facilities, the university offers programs at the Herndon Training Center at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and on the Internet.
The Fairfax Campus, situated on 677 acres of wooded land, offers a wealth of opportunities beyond the numerous academic programs and continues to be the principal center for undergraduate residence and life. The resident student population is expected to grow to 5,000 over the next five years as new residential units are constructed.
The George W. Johnson Center, the first building of its ind in the country, fosters university-wide learning by integrating students' curricular and extracurricular activities and by strengthening relationships between the university's communities.
The Center for the Arts and the Patriot Center offer the George Mason and Northern Virginia communities numerous opportunities to experience the arts, as well as sports and other entertainment. Professional artistic events presented on campus include music and dance from around the world; Theater of the First Amendment; and regional, national, and international visual art exhibitions. A designated number of free tickets is available to these events for full-time George Mason University students.
The Aquatics and Fitness Center provides state-of-the-art exercise equipment and competitive and recreational swimming to the university community and outside teams.
Located in the heart of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the Arlington Campus enjoys an alliance with more than 195 high-tech firms. George Mason's commitment to form relationships with area businesses provides students with direct access to employment experience and career opportunities.
The newest building is the beginning of a three-phase plan to develop the 5.2-acre site. Upon completion of all three phases, the Arlington Campus will include 750,000 square feet of space and many new facilities to accommodate its projected 8,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
The Arlington Campus offers courses that focus on economics, public policy, and public administration, and is home to the university's School of Law. The School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E) offers special certification courses in information technology through its Train to Technology program.
The Arlington Campus is the location of the Mercatus Center, the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy, and the Institute for Humane Studies, an independent entity affiliated with the university. These groups work together on projects of mutual interest. In addition, the campus houses the Professional Center, which works with the community to provide a venue for special events.
Prince William Campus
The Prince William Campus is located on 124 acres outside the city of Manassas, near the intersection of I-66 and the Prince William Parkway. It serves all of Northern Virginia and offers convenient access to the university for citizens of Prince William, Fauquier, and western Fairfax counties; the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park; and adjoining areas to the west and south. The campus comprises four buildings: a research facility, two academic buildings, and a recreational/fitness center.
Through mutually beneficial partnerships with local government and area businesses, the campus has positioned itself to tap into the unique assets of the surrounding community while providing access to university resources and programs for students and citizens.
A major focus of the campus is research and academic programs in the life sciences, including programs in bioscience, biotechnology, and bioinformatics. The university's National Center for Biodefense also is housed at the Prince William Campus. Programs in teacher education, administration of justice, business, information technology, health and fitness, recreation, exercise science, health promotion, parks and outdoor recreation, sport management, therapeutic recreation, tourism and events management, and athletic training also are offered. Professional certificate programs are available through the Office of Continuing Professional Education.
The 300-seat Verizon Auditorium and the 110,000-square-foot Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center serve both university and community needs. The Freedom Center offers state-of-the-art exercise equipment, group fitness programs, a full gymnasium with elevated track, and recreational and instructional swimming in a 50-meter competition pool, as well as George Mason's human performance lab, classrooms, and other meeting space. Prince William Campus resources that are available to all university students, faculty, and staff include a full-service library, drop-in computer labs, a university bookstore, a cafeteria and student lounge, an intercampus shuttle bus (between Fairfax and Prince William campuses), and a full complement of student and academic services.
Herndon Training Center at the Center for Innovative Technology and Reston Lab
The Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) Herndon Training Center, located off the Dulles Toll Road and Route 28, provides a wide range of yearly open enrollment seminars and workshops in their meeting facilities. The CIT classrooms are fully electronic and include a groupware platform. The School of Management's Executive Master of Business Administration program and the IT&E's Train to Technology program are located at the Herndon Training Center.
George Mason, 1725-92
When George Mason of Gunston Hall wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776, he gave America the noble concept that the rights of the individual must be protected against the power of government. By placing in Virginia's first constitution a list of rights that could never be taken away from citizens, Mason sought to ensure a society in which government could not become all-powerful.
As a result of his influence, the first 10 amendments, which we know as the Bill of Rights, were added to the U.S. Constitution. The universal significance of this action made the American Revolution much more than a war for indepen dence from Great Britain; it enshrined in our most important public document the principle that a government must always respect the rights of the people.
Mason, a slave owner, did not recognize that those rights extended to slaves. Nevertheless, his words were later used to demonstrate that slavery could not exist in a country that proclaimed its belief in human rights. In the United States we have not always adhered to Mason's great ideas, but they remain the measure of the best in our national life.
Highlights of George Mason's History
George Mason University's growing reputation as an innovative educational leader is rooted in Virginia's strong educational tradition. By emphasizing the needs of its region, high technology, public policy, and the fine and performing arts, George Mason has created a curriculum and mission to meet the needs of Northern Virginia's extraordinary cosmopolitan constituency.
The idea for George Mason University was born in 1949 when the Northern Virginia University Center, essentially an adult education extension of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, opened under the direction of John Norville Gibson Finley. In 1955-6, the Board of Visitors of University of Virginia and Virginia legislature authorized the establishment of a two-year branch college to serve Northern Virginia, also under Finley.
The university's formal history began in 1957 as University College, the Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia, offering courses in engineering and the liberal arts. It opened in a renovated elementary school in Bailey's Crossroads with an enrollment of 17 students.
Eager to support the fledgling institution, the Town (now City) of Fairfax purchased 150 acres in 1958 and donated the land to the University of Virginia for a permanent branch campus. The following year, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors selected the name George Mason College. Construction of the campus's first four buildings was completed in 1964. In September of that year, 356 students began their studies in the new classrooms.
In March 1966, the General Assembly authorized the expansion of George Mason College into a four-year, degree-granting institution and gave it the long-range mandate to expand into a major regional university. The first senior class received degrees in June 1968. Graduate programs began in September 1970, with the first master's degrees conferred in June 1971. The George Mason College Board of Control, supported by citizens of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Arlington and Fairfax counties, acquired an additional 422 acres. By the end of 1970, the college's Fairfax Campus reached 572 acres; it is now 677 acres.
In 1972, the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia recommended that the college separate from its parent institution. On April 7, the governor signed the General Assembly legislation that established George Mason University as an independent member of the commonwealth's system of colleges and universities.
Since 1972, the university's development has been marked by rapid growth and innovative planning. In 29 years, en rollment has risen from 4,166 to nearly 25,000 students in 2001. In 1979, George Mason was given the authority to grant doctoral degrees and began offering programs at this level. In the same year, the university acquired what became George Mason University School of Law, located at the Arlington Campus.
In 1984, the first Robinson Professors, a group of outstanding scholars committed to undergraduate teaching and interdisciplinary scholarship, joined the faculty as the result of a generous bequest from Clarence J. Robinson.
Drawing prominent scholars from all fields, George Mason's outstanding faculty also includes Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel laureates, IEEE Centennial Medalists, and recipients of numerous Fulbright, National Science Foundation, and National Endowment of the Arts grants and awards, among others. The university's 34 endowed chairs have also brought many artists and scholars to campus.
In 1985, George Mason, in partnership with area businesses, developed an engineering program geared toward the emerging information technology field and started the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E). Through IT&E, George Mason was the first institution in the country to offer a doctoral degree in information technology.
The establishment of the Institute of the Arts in 1990 (which became the College of Visual and Performing Arts in 2000) solidified the university's commitment to make the arts a pervasive part of students' lives. The Center for the Arts and the arts complex, which includes art galleries, studio and rehearsal space, and performing venues such as Harris Theater and TheaterSpace, are all components of the college.
George Mason has expanded its presence to serve the entire Northern Virginia region by employing the revolutionary concept of the "distributed university." Designed to help George Mason serve the needs of its region, the distributed university consists of one university at multiple locations, with each location based on a programmatic theme that reflects the needs of the community. The Prince William Campus was established in partnership with state and county governments and the private sector. A partnership with American Type Culture Collection, the world's foremost archive of living cultures, has led to academic programs focusing on the biosciences, which will make Prince William County a center for biotechnology.
The university is also expanding its presence in Arlington. Arlington I, completed in 1999, is a 132,000-square-foot building and the first in a three-phase plan to develop the 5.2-acre site. Arlington County recently approved a $5 million bond referendum to assist the university with the development of the second new building. The Phase II expansion, estimated to cost $42 million, will be a 240,000-square-foot building and public plaza, each with two levels of underground parking, located between Arlington I and the Original Building. The new building also will house an auditorium, art gallery, library, and conference space designed for educational and community use. Also, the George Mason University Foundation is working with the county to develop a commercial and parking structure next to the campus on Washington Boulevard.
The innovative George W. Johnson Center was dedicated on April 12, 1996. By combining student life resources with educational support facilities such as an interactive library, George Mason has created the learning workspace of the future. Educational administrators from around the world have toured the center.
George Mason University has achieved national distinction in many areas. Its reputation continues to grow as the university provides an educational, cultural, and economic resource for the people of Northern Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation.
The University's Mission
The mission statement of the Board of Visitors reads as follows:
(Adopted January 1991)
Faculty and Students
The university's more than 900 full-time instructional and research faculty members are experts in a broad range of fields, and have published widely, contributed to major research findings, and consulted with government and business. George Mason faculty members have received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and are winners of Fulbright Scholar grants and Mellon Fellowships.
Of particular interest to undergraduates are the Robinson Professors, outstanding scholars in the liberal arts and sciences who have come to George Mason from prestigious positions elsewhere. They are concerned with broad and fundamental intellectual issues and are dedicated to undergraduate teaching. The Schedule of Classes printed every semester gives details about courses taught by Robinson Professors. The majority of the university's nearly 28,000 students are from Virginia, with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 135 countries and regions represented in the student body. While full-time undergraduates, 18 to 24 years in age, make up the largest student group, part-time graduate and undergraduate students account for nearly half of the student population. George Mason welcomes qualified students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds.
George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. George Mason is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States.
The George Mason University Foundation
Established in 1966, the George Mason University Foundation works to advance and further the aims and purposes of George Mason University. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation organized and operated exclusively for the benefit of the university.
The foundation assists the university in generating private support, and manages, invests, and administers private gifts, including endowment and real property. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, led by a chairman. The vice president of University Development and Alumni Affairs of George Mason University serve as president of the foundation.