Our History

Explore Mason's 50-year history as the pretext and prologue of our exciting future.

Anne Holton signs the commemorative steel beam to be installed as part of the construction of Mason's Horizon Hall
Fifty years in full-circle

Interim President Anne Holton signs the commemorative steel beam installed as part of the construction of Mason's Horizon Hall; part of the Core Campus Project. The project included a completely new building to house the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, a memorial to the enslaved people of George Mason, and a plaza dedicated to the memory of Mason professor and civil rights leader, Roger Wilkins.

Photo credit:
Photo credit
Lathan Goumas / George Mason University

We Are 50 and Fabulous 

April 7, 2022, marks 50 years from the day that Virginia Governor A. Linwood Holton signed legislation to separate George Mason College from the University of Virginia to better meet the educational needs of Northern Virginia. This signature set in motion a half-century of progress that has fueled Northern Virginia’s transformation from a bedroom community of Washington, D.C., to one of the most dynamic regions in the country.  

We opened our first campus in Fairfax in 1964 on 150 acres from the City of Fairfax. By 1968, we graduated our first class of 52, and by 1971 we were offering and awarding graduate degrees. 

And we never slowed down.  

For a while, we carried the tagline "Where Innovation Is Tradition" because we have always done things differently. Whether it was buying a law school, creating an engineering school focused on information technology, or merging dining facilities with a library to get funding for a new building (that's the Johnson Center by the way), we did what we had to do to keep moving forward. 

As one of the youngest research universities to attain Carnegie’s top research classification R-1, and currently one of the fastest-growing public research universities in the nation, Mason has always prioritized meaningful connections, leveraging our proximity to Washington, D.C., and being responsive to the needs of the region and the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

We are here because we did things that no one thought we could do, but didn’t bother to tell us.We are here because we dream big and ACT ON our dreams.  

We are passionate. Purpose-driven. And drawn to causes larger than ourselves 

We are Patriots.