George Mason University

George Mason University
Motto Freedom and Learning
Established 1957
Type Public university
Endowment US$ 70.2 million (2014)
President Ángel Cabrera
Provost S. David Wu
Academic staff
Administrative staff
5,598 total (3,545 full-time; 2,053 part-time)[1]
Students 33,917 [2]
Undergraduates 21,324 (Fall 2013) [2]
Postgraduates 11,873 (Fall 2013) [2]

Prince William
, Virginia, USA Seoul, South Korea
Coordinates: 38°49′51″N 77°18′27″W / 38.8308°N 77.3075°W / 38.8308; -77.3075{{#coordinates:38.8308|-77.3075||||||| |primary |name=

Campus Suburban, Script error: No such module "convert". total across 4 campuses
Script error: No such module "convert". Fairfax Campus
Colors Mason Green and Mason Gold          [3]
Athletics NCAA Division IA-10
Sports 22 varsity teams
Nickname Template:If empty
Mascot The Patriot
(formerly "Gunston")
Affiliations APLU

George Mason University (also Mason[4]), 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.[5][6] Today, Mason is recognized for its strong programs in economics, law, creative writing, computer science, and business.[7][8][9][10][11] In recent years, George Mason faculty have twice won the Nobel Prize in Economics.[12] The university enrolls 33,917 students, making it the largest university by head count in the Commonwealth of Virginia.[13]


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.[14]
File:George Mason.jpg
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.[15]

The city of Fairfax purchased and donated Script error: No such module "convert". of land to the University of Virginia for the college's new site,[16] 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 Script error: No such module "convert". of Fairfax Campus began in 1962. In the Fall of 1964 the new campus welcomed 356 students.

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,[17] 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 Script error: No such module "convert". 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)

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.[18] 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.[19] Dr. Alan G. Merten was appointed president in 1996. He believed that the 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.[20]

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.[21]

On March 25, 2013, George Mason University President 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.[22]

George Mason statue

The bronze statue of George Mason was created by Wendy M. Ross and dedicated on April 12, 1996.[23] The 7½ foot statue shows George Mason presenting his first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights which was later the basis for the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. Beside Mr. Mason is a model of a writing table that is still in the study of Gunston Hall, Mason's Virginia estate. The books on the table—volumes of Hume, Locke and Rousseau—represent influences in his thought.


Mason offers 81 undergraduate degrees, 88 master’s degrees and a law degree at its Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun County campuses.[24]

Mason also offers a variety of study abroad options through its Center for Global Education.[25]

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.[26]

The student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and the average class size ranges from 25 to 35 students.[27]

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[28] 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

Colleges and Schools of George Mason University
Historical name College of Arts and Sciences


School of Business Administration


School of Law


School of Engineering


School of Nursing


College of Visual and Performing Arts
School of Public Policy


Department of Public and International Affairs


Graduate School of Education


School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution


Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study


Current name College of Humanities and Social Sciences


College of Science


School of Business


Volgenau School of Engineering


College of Health and Human Services


School of Policy, Government and International Affairs


College of Education and Human Development



Between 2009 and 2013, George Mason saw a 21% increase in the number of applications, has enrolled 3.5% more new degree-seeking students, and has seen the percentage of undergraduate and graduate applications accepted each decrease by 4%. Law applications accepted increased by 10%.[29] Mason enrolled 33,917 students for Fall 2013, up 956 (2.9%) from Fall 2012. Undergraduate students made up 64.8% (21,990) of the fall enrollment, graduate students 33.6% (11,399), and Law students 1.6% (528). Undergraduate headcount was 1,337 higher than Fall 2012, a 6.5% increase; graduate headcount was 262 lower, a decrease of 2.2%; and Law headcount was 119 lower, a decrease of 18.4%. Matriculated students come from all 50 states and 122 foreign countries.[30]


U.S. News & World Report
Best Colleges in National Universities
U.S. News & World Report
Top Public Schools
U.S. News & World Report
Up-and-Coming Schools
Academic Ranking of World Universities
George Mason Top 200
Forbes Magazine
Top Colleges


George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s accreditation was most recently reaffirmed in December, 2011,[31] and extends until 2021.  However, the university will undergo a more focused midpoint review in 2017.

Campus locations

George Mason University has four campuses in Northern Virginia and one in South Korea and employs a distributed campus model.[32] 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.


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).[33][34] 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;[35] the Krasnow Institute; and three fully appointed gyms and an aquatic center for student use.[36] The stadiums for indoor and outdoor track and field, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer and lacrosse are also on the Fairfax campus,[37] as is Masonvale, a housing community for faculty, staff and graduate students.[38] The smallest building on the campus is the 33-square-foot information booth.[39]


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;[40] 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.

George Mason University Science and Technology Campus

The University's Prince William campus opened on August 25, 1997 in Manassas, Virginia, on 134 acres of land, some currently undeveloped.[41] More than 4,000 students are enrolled in classes in bioinformatics, biotechnology, computer and information technology and forensic biosciences educational and research programs.[42] 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,[43] 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. On April 23, 2015 the campus was renamed to the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus.[44]

Mason 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.[45]


George Mason University, an institution dedicated to research of consequence, hosts more than $100 million in sponsored research projects annually.[46]

The research is focused on health, sustainability and security. In health, researchers focus is on wellness, disease prevention, advanced diagnostics and biomedical analytics. Sustainability research examines climate change, natural disaster forecasting, and risk assessment. Mason’s security experts study domestic and international security as well as cyber security.[47]

Centers and institutes

The university is home to numerous research centers and institutes, including the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, which pursues multidisciplinary research on topics ranging from neurons to nations. Krasnow is composed of two centers funded by the National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Health and The Office of Naval Research.[48] The Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research opened in April 2015.[49]

Mason’s other key centers are: Center for Social Complexity; Center for Neural Informatics, Neural Structures and Neuroplasticity (CN3); Mercatus Center, the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas; Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine; Center for Excellence in Command, Control, Communications, Computing and Intelligence (C4I); Center for History and New Media (CHNM); National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases; Center for Climate Change Communication (4C); Center for Well-Being; Center for Collision Safety and Analysis; and SMART Lab (Sports Medicine Assessment, Research & Testing).


Mason has established far-reaching research partnerships with many government agencies, non-profits, health systems, and international finance organizations. Among others, Mason researches computer systems and networks with the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA);[50] investigates climate issues with the National Aeronautics and Space administration (NASA);[51] explores underwater archaeology with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA);[52] partners on conservation and biological matters with the Smithsonian institution; studies brain neurons with The Allen Institute; conducts economic research with the International Monetary Fund; and examines chronic illnesses and disabilities with the Inova Health System.

Student life


George Mason statue

George can often be found holding green and yellow balloons or adorned in Mason gear since decorating George with paper, ribbons, balloons and signage during organizational activities, homecoming, alumni weekend and other university events is common tradition. Another statue tradition is to rub George’s toe for good luck before an exam. Posing for a photo with George on your first day of class and in your academic regalia is considered a "must-do" for Mason students.[53]

Fight song

School of Music professor Anthony J. Maiello[54] wrote the original "George Mason Fight Song" between 1988 and 1990.  The lyrics were written and edited in 2009 by "Doc Nix" Nickens,[55] a Mason professor of music and director of Mason’s Green Machine Mason Day

Mason Day,[56] held on the last Friday of the spring semester, is George Mason University's longest-standing tradition and has been celebrating Mason Day since before Mason was an independent university. The event started in 1965[57] as the Mason’s version of University of Virginia’s Founders Day, which celebrated Thomas Jefferson’s birthday on April 13. The event has evolved over the years and features carnival food like funnel cakes and amusement park rides, in addition to local bands with a nationally known headliner.

Bench painting

Each spring, student organizations at George Mason compete to paint one of the 38 benches located on the Quad in front of Fenwick Library.[58] For years, student organizations have painted those benches that line the walkway to gain recognition for their group. With more than 300 student organizations, there is much competition to paint one of the benches. Painting takes place in the spring.[53]

Residence life


More than 6,000 George Mason students reside on campus in over 40 residence halls.[59] Student housing consists of traditional-style halls, suite-style halls, and apartment-style halls. The majority of freshmen live in traditional-style halls though some have the opportunity to live in suites. All upper-class students live in suite-style or apartment-style halls. Mason's residences are grouped into three neighborhoods – Aquia, Rappahannock, and Shenandoah.[60]

Student organizations

George Mason offers more than 200 clubs and organizations,[61] 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.[62] The Office of Student Involvement at Mason administers Student Government, Patriot Activities Council (PAC) Fraternity and Sorority Life, Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA), and Weekends at Mason (WAM).[63] Mason also offers an Army ROTC program, called The "Patriot Battalion."

Student media

Mason sponsors several student-run media outlets through the Office of Student Media.[64]

  • The Fourth Estate: Weekly student newspaper, available on Mondays.
  • Connect2Mason: The online platform of The Fourth Estate. The website features daily updates about what's happening around campus, as well as breaking news, and up-to-date sports coverage.
  • The George Mason Review: A cross-disciplinary, undergraduate journal.
  • Hispanic Culture Review: Publishes creative writing, book reviews, narratives, and essays in both Spanish and English. Published annually.
  • Mason Cable Network: A television outlet run by the students, for the students that provides analytical, and entertaining programming.
  • Phoebe: A journal that annually publishes original works of literature and art.  
  • So to Speak: A feminist journal that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art each semester.
  • Volition: Formerly known as Apathy, is George Mason University's undergraduate creative literature and art magazine.
  • WGMU Radio: Broadcasts a wide array of music, talk, sports, and news programming. WGMU is also the flagship station for George Mason's Men's and Women's Basketball team, part of the Go Mason Digital Network.

Greek life

Mason has 35 fraternities and sororities,[65] with a total Greek population of about 1,800. Mason does not have a traditional "Greek Row" of housing specifically for fraternities, although recruitment, charitable events—including a spring Greek Week—and other chapter activities take place on the Fairfax Campus.[66]

Interfraternity Council
Panhellenic Council
Multicultural Greek Council
National Pan-Hellenic Council


Main article: George Mason Patriots

Division 1 teams

The George Mason Patriots are the athletic teams of George Mason University located in Fairfax, Virginia.[67] 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).[68]

Club sports

In addition to its NCAA Division I teams, George Mason University has several club sports.[69] 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.


Board of Visitors

The Board of Visitors (BOV), of George Mason University was created in April 1972 by an act of the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly when the university became an independent institution. The board is a corporate body serving under the leadership of a rector, vice rector, and secretary. The 16 members of the board are appointed by the governor of Virginia on a rotating basis to serve four-year terms. The Faculty Senate Chair sits on the board as a nonvoting member. Two student representatives (nonvoting members) are appointed by the Board of Visitors each year at the May meeting to serve a one-year term.[70] The current rector is Tom Davis.

Office of the President

Ángel Cabrera is the sixth president[71] of George Mason University. Born in Spain (August 5, 1967), Cabrera earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in computer and electrical engineering (Ingeniero de Telecomunicación) from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. As a Fulbright Scholar, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a master’s of science and Ph.D. in psychology and cognitive science.

The World Economic Forum named Cabrera a Global Leader for Tomorrow in 2001 and a Young Global Leader[72] in 2005. In 2004, he was recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the 25 "Stars of Europe."[73] In 2007, the United Nations asked him to chair the international task force that developed the U.N.’s "Principles for Responsible Management Education."[74] The World Economic Forum appointed Cabrera chair of the Global Agenda Council for promoting entrepreneurship in 2008[75] and he was named the Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute.[76] In 2010, Cabrera became a topic leader[77] for the Clinton Global Initiative.  He has authored numerous academic papers and has received more than 2,000 citations.[78] His latest book, Being Global: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Transformed World, was published by Harvard Business Review in 2012.

George Mason University presidents
Lorin A. Thompson 1966–1973
Vergil H. Dykstra 1973–1977
Robert C. Krug 1977–1978
George W. Johnson 1978–1996
Alan G. Merten 1996–2012[79]
Ángel Cabrera 2012–Present[80]

Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President

Dr. S. David Wu became Provost and Executive Vice President of George Mason University on July 1, 2014.[81] As chief academic officer of the university, Dr. Wu is responsible for all aspects of academic administration of the university.[82] He also serves as Professor in the Volgenau School of Engineering.

Dr. Wu is an accomplished scholar in systems engineering and operations research. He specializes in optimization, game theory, and distributed decision-making. He has received significant support for his research from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD), and others. His scholarly work has been widely recognized and cited. A fellow of the Institute for Industrial Engineers, Dr. Wu has published more than 100 scholarly papers and served as editor or editorial board member on more than a handful of the journals in his field.[83]

Dr. Wu also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 1987.

Notable faculty and alumni





  • The Mason Spirit: Published three times a year by the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations in conjunction with the Office of Communications and Marketing.[84]
  • Cornerstone is published annually by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University.[85]

Mason Publishing Group

The Mason Publishing Group provides support and resources to the George Mason University community for creating, curating, and disseminating scholarly, creative, and educational works.[86]

Well-Being University

University Initiative

The George Mason Well-Being University Initiative was launched October 28, 2013 and is made up of more than 20 faculty members, staff, and students.[87] With its base in the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, the goal of the initiative is to see that Mason becomes a model well-being university where students, faculty, and staff are building a life of vitality, purpose, and resilience, enriched by diversity and characterized by thriving across a range of domains, including physical, career, social, community, psychological and financial.[87]



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External links

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