George Mason University
MottoFreedom and Learning
TypePublic university
EndowmentUS$ 70.2 million (2014)
PresidentÁngel Cabrera
ProvostS. David Wu
Academic staff
Students33,917 [1]
Undergraduates21,324 (Fall 2013) [1]
Postgraduates11,873 (Fall 2013) [1]
Location, ,
38°49′51″N 77°18′27″W / 38.8308°N 77.3075°W / 38.8308; -77.3075
CampusSuburban, 854.2 acres (3.457 km2) total across 4 campuses
677 acres (2.74 km2) Fairfax Campus
ColorsMason Green and Mason Gold    [3]
MascotThe Patriot
(formerly "Gunston")
File:GMU logo.svg

George Mason University (also Mason)[5] located in Fairfax, Virginia, United States, is the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The university was founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1957 and became an independent institution in 1972.[6][7] Today, Mason is recognized for its strong programs in economics, law, creative writing, computer science, and business.[8][9][10][11][12] In recent years, George Mason faculty have twice won the Nobel Prize in Economics.[13] The university enrolls 33,917 students, making it the largest university by head count in the Commonwealth of Virginia.[14]


University of Virginia (1949-1972)

During the fall of 1949, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was interested in creating an extension center to serve Northern Virginia. The Extension Center, which offered organized classes starting the winter of 1950, was located on the property of Washington & Lee High School in Arlington, VA. Both credit and non-credit courses were offered, and all classes took place in the evening. By the end of 1952, enrollment increased to 1,192 students from 665 students the previous year. [15]

George Mason, (1725–1792) the university's namesake.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution in January 1956, establishing a branch college of the University of Virginia in Northern Virginia. In September 1957 the new college opened its doors to seventeen students, all of whom enrolled as freshmen in a small renovated elementary school building at Bailey's Crossroads. John Norville Gibson Finley served as Director of the new branch, which was known as University College.[16]

The city of Fairfax purchased and donated 150 acres (0.61 km2) of land to the University of Virginia for the college's new site,[17] which was referred to as the Fairfax Campus. In 1959, the Board of Visitors of UVA selected a permanent name for the college: George Mason College of the University of Virginia. The Fairfax campus construction planning that began in early 1960 showed visible results when the development of the first 40 acres (160,000 m2) of Fairfax Campus began in 1962. In the Fall of 1964 the new campus welcomed 356 students.

George Mason College, Fairfax campus, 1967.

During the 1966 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Alexandria delegate James M. Thomson, with the backing of the University of Virginia, introduced a bill in the General Assembly to make George Mason College a four-year institution under the University of Virginia’s direction. The measure, known as H 33[18], passed the Assembly easily and was approved on March 1, 1966 making George Mason College a degree-granting institution. During that same year, the local jurisdictions of Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church agreed to appropriate $3 million to purchase land adjacent to Mason to provide for a 600-acre (2.4 km2) Fairfax Campus with the intention that the institution would expand into a regional university of major proportions, including the granting of graduate degrees.

George Mason University (1972-Present)

Governor A. Linwood Holton, Jr., signing H-210, the bill which separated George Mason College from its parent institution, University of Virginia on April 7, 1972.

On Friday April 7, 1972, a contingent from George Mason College, led by Chancellor Lorin A. Thompson, met with Virginia Governor A. Linwood Holton at Richmond. They were there to participate in the Governor’s signing into law Virginia General Assembly Bill H 210 separating George Mason College from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and renaming it George Mason University.[19]

In 1978, George W. Johnson was appointed to serve as the fourth president. Under his eighteen-year tenure, the University expanded both its physical size and program offerings at a tremendous rate. Shortly before Johnson’s inauguration in April 1979, Mason acquired the School of Law and the new Arlington Campus. The University also became a doctoral institution. Toward the end of Johnson’s term, Mason would be deep in planning for a third campus in Prince William County at Manassas. Major campus facilities, such as Student Union Building II, Patriot Center, Center for the Arts, and the Johnson Learning Center, were all constructed over the course of Johnson’s eighteen years as University President. Enrollment once again more than doubled from 10,767 during the fall of 1978 to 24,368 in the spring of 1996.[20] Dr. Alan G. Merten was appointed president in 1996. He believed that University's location made it responsible for both contributing to and drawing from its surrounding communities—local, national, and global. George Mason was becoming recognized and acclaimed in all of these spheres. During Merten's tenure, the University hosted the World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT) in 1998, celebrated a second Nobel Prize-winning faculty member in 2002, and cheered the Men’s Basketball team’s in their NCAA Final Four appearance in 2006. Enrollment increased from just over 24,000 students in 1996 to approximately 33,000 during the spring semester of 2012, making George Mason Virginia’s largest public university and gained prominence at the national level. [21]

Dr. Ángel Cabrera, officially took office on July 1, 2012. Both Cabrera and the Board were well aware that Mason was part of a rapidly changing academia, full of challenges to the viability of higher education. In a resolution on August 17, 2012, the Board asked Dr. Cabrera to create a new strategic vision that would help Mason remain relevant and competitive in the future. The drafting of the Vision for Mason, from conception to official outline, created a new mission statement that defines the university.[22]

On March 25, 2013 George Mason University President Dr. Ángel Cabrera held a press conference to formally announce the university’s decision to leave the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference (A-10). The announcement came just days after the Board of Visitors’ approval of the university's Vision document that Dr. Cabrera had overseen. Mason began competition in the A-10 during the 2013-2014 academic year, and Mason’s association with the institutions that comprise the A-10 started a new chapter in Mason athletics, academics, and other aspects of university life.[23]


George Mason University has four campuses in Northern Virginia and one in South Korea and employs a distributed campus model[24]. For the University, this means that instead of having a main campus and branch campuses focused on duplicating academic offerings, the physical home for a given academic program may be on any one of the campus locations. The main administrative center is at the Fairfax Campus in Fairfax, Virginia. It is also the location of the 6,500 students who live on campus in residence halls as well as the location of the Patriot Center, a 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena and home to the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball teams.


Fairfax Campus, Johnson Center Aerial View

The University's Fairfax Campus is situated on 677 landscaped acres with a large pond in a suburban environment in the City of Fairfax in central Fairfax County. Off-campus amenities are within walking distance and Washington, D.C. is approximately 20 miles from campus, accessible by surface transportation or Metro’s Orange Line (via a connecting bus from the campus)[25][26]. Notable buildings include the 320,000 student union building, the Johnson Center; the Center for the Arts, an 2,000-seat concert hall; the 180,000-square-foot Long and Kimmy Nguyen Engineering Building; Exploratory Hall for science, new in 2013; an astronomy observatory and telescope; the 88,900-square-foot Art and Design Building; the newly expanded Fenwick Library[27]; the Krasnow Institute; and three fully-appointed gyms and an aquatic center for student use[28]. The stadiums for indoor and outdoor track and field, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer and lacrosse are also on the Fairfax campus[29], as is Masonvale, a housing community for faculty, staff and graduate students[30]. The smallest building on the campus is the 33-square-foot information booth[31].


Founders Hall and Hazel Hall at the Arlington Campus.

The Arlington Campus is situated on 5.2 acres in a bustling urban environment on the edge of Arlington, Virginia's Clarendon business district and four miles from downtown Washington, D.C. The campus was founded in 1979 with the acquisition of a law school[32]; in 1998 Hazel Hall opened to house the Mason School of Law; subsequent development created Founders Hall, home of the School for Policy, Government, and International Affairs, the Center for Regional Analysis and the graduate-level administrative offices for the School of Business. An adjacent building houses the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, the Mercatus Center, and the Institute for Humane Studies. The campus also houses the 300-seat Founders Hall Auditorium. The Arlington campus is served by the Washington Metro by the Virginia Square-GMU station on the Orange line. The station is located approximately two blocks west of the campus.

Prince William

Aerial Photo of the Prince William Campus.

The Univeristy's Prince William campus opened on August 25, 1997 in Manassas, Virginia, on 134 acres of land, some currently undeveloped[33]. More than 4,000 students are enrolled in classes in bioinformatics, biotechnology, computer and information technology and forensic biosciences educational and research programs[34]. There also are undergraduate programs in health, fitness and recreation; graduate programs in exercise, fitness and health; and nontraditional programs through continuing and professional education in geographic information systems and facility management. Much of the research takes place in the Biomedical Research Laboratory, a high-security facility. The 1,123-seat Merchant Hall and the 300-seat Verizon Auditorium in the Hylton Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2010,[35] share the campus with the 110,000-square-foot Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, operated by Mason and local governments and the Mason Enterprise Center. The Mason Center for Team and Organizational Learning—the EDGE— is an experiential education facility open to the public.


In the fall of 2005, the university opened a site in Loudoun County, Virginia. Several months later, it announced the gift of 123 acres (0.50 km2) of land by Greenvest, LLC, to build a fourth suburban campus. The campus was scheduled to open in 2009. However, the proposal was voted down by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, as part of the larger Dulles South project. Greenvest rescinded the gift.[36] Committed to expanding its presence in Loudoun, the university has now proposed a possible joint campus with Northern Virginia Community College. The campus would be located in Broadlands, Virginia.[37]

Mason's current Loudoun site offers several graduate programs; an MA in Business Administration, Masters and doctoral programs in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), a graduate degree in nursing, and a Master of Science in telecommunications. The Loudon campus also offers five undergraduate programs; a minor in business and management, certificates in the College of Education and Human Development, a BS in health science, a minor in information technology, and an introductory course in social work.

Mason Korea

George Mason University's new campus in Songdo, Korea.

In March 2014, Mason opened Mason Korea. The campus is in Songdo, in South Korea’s Incheon Free Economic Zone, a 42,000-acre site designed for 850,000 people. It’s 25 miles from Seoul and a two-hour flight from China and Japan. Matthew Zingraff is president and provost of Mason Korea. Students attending Mason Korea will earn a Mason degree just as they would if they took classes on Mason’s Virginia campuses. Mason Korea students will spend the fourth and fifth semesters (third year) on the Fairfax Campus, with all other course work to be completed in Songdo. Economics and management are the first course offerings and were specifically requested by Korea’s Ministry of Education. Future degrees include global affairs, conflict analysis and resolution and computer gaming.

The South Korean government approached Mason in 2008 about opening a Mason campus in Songdo. A $1 million grant in 2009 from the Korean government made it possible for Mason to begin detailed planning. The Korean government will subsidize Mason’s Songdo campus for at least the first five years, including free use of buildings and utilities.[38]


The Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study is located on the Fairfax campus.

Mason offers 81 undergraduate degrees, 88 master’s degrees and a law degree at its Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun County campuses.[39]

Mason also offers a variety of study abroad options through its Center for Global Education.

As of fall 2014, the University had 33,791 students enrolled, including 21,672 undergraduates, 7,022 seeking master’s degrees, 2,264 seeking doctoral degrees and 493 seeking law degrees.[40]

The student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and the average class size ranges from 25 to 35 students.[41]

Admission to the Honors College is based on a holistic review of each student’s academic performance as well as any other information included in the general application, such as rigor of coursework, standardized test scores, class rank, essay response, teacher recommendations, outstanding leadership, and commitment to community service. Admission to the Honors College requires an application and is open to both freshmen and transfer students.

Approximately 20 students each year are named University Scholars, Mason’s highest academic distinction, which includes a full tuition scholarship.

The 3+3 Accelerated Program[42] offers highly motivated George Mason University undergraduate students a fast track to earn both a bachelor's degree and a law degree in six, rather than seven, years of study.

Colleges and Schools


Main article: George Mason Patriots

See also: George Mason Patriots men's basketball and 2005–06 George Mason Patriots men's basketball team

Division 1 Teams

The George Mason Patriots are the athletic teams of George Mason University located in Fairfax, Virginia.[45] The Patriots compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference for most sports. About 485 student-athletes compete in 22 men's and women's Division I sports - baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. Intercollegiate men's and women's teams are members of the Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, the Atlantic 10, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL), and the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) [46]

Club Sports

In addition to its NCAA Division I teams, George Mason University has several club sports.[47] The club sports offer students a chance to compete at a high level without the time commitment of a D-I/Varsity team in sports including - badminton, baseball, basketball (women's), bowling, cricket, crew, cycling, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse (men's and women's), paintball, quidditch, rugby (men's and women's), running, soccer (men's and women's), swimming, tae kwon do, trap & skeet, triathlon, ultimate frisbee (men's and women's), volleyball (men's and women's), wrestling, and underwater hockey. Clubs have a competitive range from regional competition to yearly participation in U.S. National College Club Level Championships.

Student Life

George Mason offers more than 200 clubs and organizations, including 16 fraternities, 15 sororities, 24 International-student organizations, 25 religious organizations, a student programming board, student government, club sports, debate team, and student media. In a 2004 survey of 357 universities Mason was ranked number one for diversity.[48] The Office of Student Involvement at Mason administrates Student Government, Program Board, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Recognized Student Organization (RSO), Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA), and Weekends at Mason (WAM).[49] Mason also offers an Army ROTC program, called The "Patriot Battalion." Mason's club sports include Ice Hockey, ultimate frisbee, crew, equestrian, field hockey, football, lacrosse, underwater hockey, fencing, and rugby.[citation needed] A new sport in 2013 is Quidditch.


The George Mason University Forensics program is one of the top ranked competitive speech teams in the United States and has achieved international recognition in the field of communication studies.[50]

The team was founded in 1970 and has won nearly 10,000 individual speech awards. From 2010 to 2012 the team placed 4th at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and has won the International Forensics Association Championship each of the last five years. The Forensics Program has been extremely active on the George Mason campus with an active Community Service Committee. Mason hosts the annual Virginia Is for Lovers collegiate speech tournament, the Patriot Games Classic (which in 2009 had over 1,000 entries), and hosted the 2011 Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament. Currently Dr. Peter Pober is the Program Director with Jeremy Hodgson as Assistant Director.[51]

Debate Team

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The George Mason University Debate Team is a nationally ranked Policy Debate program. The team competes nationally as well as regionally, frequently attending the National Debate Tournament, the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament, and the American Debate Association National Tournament. The director of the team since its inception in 1975 is Dr. Warren Decker. In the 2012-2013 season, the debate team was ranked first in NDT-CEDA points for a majority of the season, ultimately finishing second behind Liberty University (See NDT-CEDA Rankings). In the 2013-2014, the debate team won a National Championship by finishing first in NDT points. The team is regionally and nationally competitive in the Novice, Junior Varsity, and Varsity divisions.[52]


Mason also sponsors several student-run publications through its Office of Student Media,[53] including, an online media and news convergence website,[54] the VoxPop, a feature magazine,Volition, an undergraduate student literary and art magazine, Phoebe, a graduate literary journal, So to Speak, a feminist literary journal, GMView and Senior Speak, an annual yearbook publication and video, New Voices in Public Policy, School of Public Policy student journal, and Hispanic Culture Review, a student bilingual (Spanish/English) journal on Hispanic literature and culture. Mason also sponsors several academic journals including, TABLET, the International Affairs Journal of George Mason University. Between approximately 1993 and 1998, the University was also the home of The Fractal: Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Mason offers one regular print publication, Broadside, a student newspaper. Mason also operates a Campus radio station, WGMU Radio. The online radio station offers music, entertainment, news, and public affairs relating to the University community, regional area and the country. GMU-TV is the university's professional Educational-access television station. GMU-TV is an award-winning leader in educational, informational and public interest programming. The unit offers a broad spectrum of content, ranging from public affairs and humanities to science, medicine and the arts. The Mason Cable Network, or MCN, is the student organized and operated station, and offers student produced entertainment and information on campus channel 89, available on the Fairfax campus of Mason.

Between 1990 and 2005, the underground newspaper Expulsion was distributed on the Mason campus. It also experienced a brief online resurgence in 2007.[55]

The staff of the Center for History and New Media produces a podcast called Digital Campus.

In fall 2008, the satirical online newspaper, The Mason Squire, premiered.[56] The site featured fake news stories criticizing the university. The newspaper's mottos were "Because fake news doesn't report itself" and "Fake news just got a whole lot sexier." However, the site has been inactive since late 2009.

Fraternity and Sorority Life

See also: List of Fraternities and Sororities at George Mason University

George Mason University does not have traditional Fraternity & Sorority housing or a "Greek row." For several years, three Panhellenic Council organizations had established "Living/Learning Floors" in the University Commons. Alpha Omicron Pi had a floor 2004–2010, Gamma Phi Beta had a floor 2006–2010, and Alpha Phi had a floor 2007–2010.[citation needed]

Officially, Mason refers to "Greek Life" as "Fraternity & Sorority Life" to avoid confusion with the Hellenic Society club, a student organization focusing on the people and culture of Greece.[citation needed]

Most organizations in the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC) hold one or two large charitable events each year. Most organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council(NPHC) and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) hold a series of smaller charitable events throughout the year. The NPHC is also known for its annual Step Show.[citation needed]

The most well-known[by whom?] event associated with Fraternity & Sorority Life on campus is held each spring and is called Greek Week. This annual event includes competitive sporting and trivia events, charitable fund raising, and is usually ended with Greek Sing. Organizations participating in Greek Sing put together 10–15 minute themed shows which have included extravagant costumes, set designs, lighting displays, multimedia presentations, dances, singing, and more.[citation needed] Other Greek Week events include Shackathon where organizations construct shacks decorated to fit a theme. Greek swim is another popular Greek Week event in which organizations perform in a synchronized swimming competition.

PHC holds a formal recruitment each fall. Informal recruitment is held in spring. Many PHC organizations also offer continuous open recruitment (or continuous open bidding) after the designated recruitment period. IFC has a designated one-week rush period in the fall and spring. This week is regulated and monitored, but participants are not registered or tracked.[citation needed]

Presidents past and present

Alan G. Merten in 2012

Notable alumni


Government and politics

Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, President of Puntland
Anna Cabral Treasurer of the United States
Kathleen Casey Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Literary and media

Sports and entertainment


Notable faculty

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Economics

James M. Buchanan, Nobel Prize-winning economist
Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Prize-winning economist
Gordon Tullock, Developed the Public Choice theory

School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

School of Public Policy

Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA
United States Ambassador to Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina

College of Science

School of Business

School of Law

School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism

George Mason University Press

George Mason University Press is the official publishing extension of George Mason University. GMU Press is distributed through University of Virginia Press.[citation needed]



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