Mason marks 50 years with yearlong celebration


On Friday, April 7, 1972, a group from George Mason College met with Virginia Governor A. Linwood Holton Jr. in Richmond. They were there to witness the governor sign into law Virginia General Assembly Bill H 210, which separated the college from the University of Virginia. With the stroke of a pen, George Mason University, as we know it today, was born.

Mason is celebrating that first half-century and setting the tone for the next 50 years with a yearlong celebration that includes a week of festivities in April. The celebration kicked off at the Homecoming basketball games this past weekend with the video “Mason at 50.”

Many who attended the tailgate and games may have noticed that the university is also "decorating" to show our Patriot pride and create awareness of this special milestone. Soon the Arlington, Science and Technology, and Mason Korea campuses will also be sporting green and gold and the 50th mark.

"We are excited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the university this year," said 50th Anniversary Planning Committee Co-Chair Rachel Lubar Quinn, assistant vice president, events and operations, in the Office of University Branding. "We are planning numerous events throughout the year to celebrate all the accomplishments the university has had over the last 50 years as well as the exciting plans for the future."

We're asking everyone to "save the date" for the week of April 4-8 and join in the following events:

  • Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial Dedication, April 4, 1:30 p.m., Wilkins Plaza
  • 50th Anniversary Commemorative Celebration, April 7, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

April 7 will also be this year's Giving Day, which has been retooled for the milestone and is now called Mason Vision Day. This event presents an opportunity for Mason community to come together each year to identify and support a deserving campus initiative.

Beyond that week, the university is incorporating the anniversary into many events throughout the year, including groundbreakings at Arlington on April 6 and at SciTech on April 22, and Mason Day on April 22. More specifics on each of these events will follow as they get closer.

“Our alumni have such fond memories of Mason and we are excited to include them in all aspects of the 50th celebration," said Jenn Robinson, 50th Anniversary Planning Committee co-chair and associate vice president for alumni relations.

To help Mason shine, Creative Services in the Office of University Branding has created a 50th anniversary toolkit. School, colleges and other offices within Mason can access the 50th mark, templates, and other items there. The Mason basketball players are already wearing the 50th mark on uniforms.

As a part of the yearlong celebration, there will be several weekly series in The George email newsletter that will draw attention to Mason people, milestones, and moments. The Mason Trailblazers series will recognize a few of those faculty, staff, students, and alumni who helped put Mason on the map. These stories will also be shared on social media throughout the spring. The George will also be featuring one historical photo a week that tells a part of the Mason story.

The University Libraries Special Collections Research Center is also sharing historical Mason photos on Twitter at #gmuscrc50. The University Libraries staff are also working on several exhibits to showcase photographs and treasures from the Special Collections that can help tell Mason's story.

Mason Athletics kicked off its yearlong celebration of women in sports commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX at the women's basketball game against George Washington on Jan. 29 at its annual Sue Collins National Girls and Women in Sports Day game.

In honor of the historic anniversary, Athletics has put together a PSA and "What it Means to Me" videos capturing the voices of Patriot alumni who have thrived in athletics and in their careers in part due to the opportunities provided by the landmark legislation. Along with profiles of alumni, coaches and administrators, Mason will look back at some of the milestone achievements of its women's programs. You can find those videos here.

A special 50th website has been built to engage the Mason Nation in this special milestone and help those who are new to Mason learn how we arrived at this moment. The yearlong celebration will continue in the fall, and the website will provide a running list of events.

Special 50th anniversary commemorative items are also being created and can be found here and here.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to bring people back to campus to showcase our amazing university," said Quinn.