George Mason University Drewberry Hall
George Mason University (often referred to as GMU or Mason) is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County.
Named after American revolutionary, patriot, and founding father George Mason, the university was founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1957 and became an independent institution in 1972. Recognized for its strong programs in law, economics, creative writing,and computer science, the university enrolls over 32,500 students, making it the largest university (by head count) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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 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
The city of Fairfax purchased and donated 150 acres (0.61 km2) of land to the University of Virginia for the college’s new location, 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.
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 in 1966 with the intention that the institution would expand into a regional university of major proportions, including the granting of graduate degrees.
On April 7, 1972 the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation which separated George Mason College from its parent institution, the University of Virginia. Renamed that day by the legislation, George Mason College became George Mason University.
In 1978, the George Mason University Foundation purchased the former Kann’s department store in Arlington. In March 1979 the Virginia General Assembly authorized the establishment of the George Mason University School of Law (GMUSL) – contingent on the transfer of the Kann’s building to George Mason University. GMUSL began operations in that building on July 1, 1979 and received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in 1980. The ABA granted full approval to GMUSL in 1986.
Also, in 1979, the university moved all of its athletic programs to NCAA Division I. Enrollment that year passed 11,000. The university opened its Arlington campus in 1982, two blocks from the Virginia Square-GMU station in Arlington. In 1986 the university’s governing body, the Board of Visitors, approved a new master plan for the year based on an enrollment of 20,000 full-time students with housing for 5,000 students by 1995. That same year university housing opened to bring the total number of residential students to 700.
Through a bequest of Russian immigrant Shelley Krasnow the University established the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in 1991. The Institute was created to further the understanding of the mind and intelligence by combining the fields of cognitive psychology, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence. In 1992, Mason’s new Prince William Institute began classes in a temporary site in Manassas, Virginia. The Institute moved to a permanent 124-acre (0.50 km2) site located on the Rt. 234 bypass, ten miles (16 km) south of Manassas, by the year 1997, and is now known as the Prince William Campus. The university graduated more than 5,000 students that following spring.
While George Mason University is young compared to established research universities in Virginia, it has grown rapidly, reaching an enrollment of 30,714 students in 2008.According to a 2005 report issued by the university, enrollment is expected to reach 35,000 students by 2011 with more than 7,000 resident students.
In 2002, Mason celebrated its 30th anniversary as a university by launching its first capital campaign, trying to raise $110 million. The school raised $142 million, $32 million more than its goal. The George Mason University logo, originally designed in 1982, was updated in 2004.
In 2008, the School of Management celebrated its 30th anniversary. Also, in 2008 Mason changed its mascot from the “Gunston” animal to the “Patriot”.