Retro Mason: The signing of H 210


To celebrate George Mason University's first 50 years as an independent institution, the university staff has been going through boxes and archives to figure out how best to show this unique journey from a branch campus of the University of Virginia to the Virginia's largest public research university. Weekly, we will be sharing a historical photograph or image that tells a part of this amazing story. For our first photo, we thought we'd begin with the moment that started it all.

black and white photo of people standing at a desk

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.

In attendance that day was, from left, Student Government President James Corrigan, Governor Linwood Holton Jr., Mason Chancellor Lorin A. Thompson, Mason Advisory Board President John Wood, and Student Senator Anne O'Grady.

In a recent interview, Corrigan, who graduated from Mason with a bachelor of individualized study in 1981, laughed about the intensity with which he is watching the signing.

“What I’m looking at is the pen,” he said. “Because I’m going to get the pen!”

Souvenir or no, Corrigan recognized that he was a witness to history. “I knew when they made Mason a university, that things were going to be incredible. The growth would be massive.”

Photo credit: University Libraries' Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Photograph Collection, 1950s-1999 Box 2, Folder 9