George Mason University earns Virginia’s highest level of fiscal management autonomy



Fairfax, Virginia - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation that approves George Mason University for the highest level of institutional management autonomy granted to Virginia public colleges and universities, a milestone achievement for Mason, the state’s youngest public research institution.

The “Tier 3” management agreement offers Mason greater autonomy in financial operations, including capital projects, procurement, information technology, and human resources. Mason, which in 2022 will celebrate its 50th anniversary as an independent institution, joins five much older Virginia universities in achieving Tier 3 status.

The new agreement, passed by the General Assembly in February and signed by the governor this month, takes effect July 1.

“This achievement recognizes George Mason University as a truly great institution, and we are grateful for the support and confidence that Governor Northam and state lawmakers show in the university,” Mason President Gregory Washington said. “This milestone is a strong indicator of the Commonwealth’s belief in the impact and public mission of Mason.”

Mason, the largest and most diverse public university in Virginia, with more than 39,000 students, met the statutory fiscal management performance standards required to attain the operational and administrative autonomy. The university earned an issuer rating of Aa3 from Moody’s Investors Service in October 2019.

Mason became Tier 2 in 2008 and Tier 2.5 in 2016, at which point it entered a five-year pilot program, which expires on June 30, 2021.

“This autonomy will have significant impact both in the near- and long-term operations for the university,” said Carol Dillon Kissal, Mason senior vice president for administration and finance. “Mason has shown every step of the way that greater flexibility leads to more positive outcomes for our students, faculty and staff – and our region and state.”

Mason becomes the sixth Virginia institution to attain Tier 3 status since the state passed the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act of 2005, joining the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, the College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth and James Madison.


About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. For more information visit


Contact: Preston Williams, Presidential Communications Manager