Table of Contents
This collection is currently being reprocessed and is not available for research. Please contact Liz Beckman, Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 993-5282 with any questions.
George Mason University Office of the President R0019
Published by George Mason University Libraries
George Mason University's roots can be traced to the University of Virginia (UVa) Extension Division's Northern Virginia University Center. The Extension Division, under the direction of George B. Zehmer, established UVa's Northern Virginia University Center in September 1949 with John Norville Gibson Finley (1899-1971) as the Center's first director. The Center's administrative offices and "campus," were located on the campus of Washington - Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. During the Center's beginning years, it offered college-level courses for adults.
By 1956, sensing the public need for a college in Northern Virginia area for recent high school graduates, the Extension Division proposed and created, with the help of the Virginia State Legislature, a new two-year branch college alongside the Northern Virginia Center. The branch was called the University College. Finley was appointed director of the new college, whose administrative office was also located on the campus of Washington - Lee High School. Finley remained director of both schools through the 1950s.
In 1957, the University of Virginia leased the vacant Bailey's Crossroads Elementary School for the University College's temporary site. The building was renovated and outfitted with laboratory equipment and other additions needed to make it ready for college instruction. Meanwhile, UVa sought a more permanent site for the new college. In 1959 the Town of Fairfax donated the tract of land on which the University resides today. Director Finley saw the first buildings completed in late 1963 and early 1964.
Robert H. Reid (1913-1970) was director of George Mason College from 1964-1966. During his tenure, George Mason College moved from Bailey's Crossroads to the new 150 acre campus just outside of Fairfax City. The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill to expand GMC to a four-year degree-granting institution in 1966. Reid resigned in March, 1966 stating that his resignation had been prompted by the failure of the 1966 General Assembly to make George Mason independent of the University of Virginia.
In 1966, Lorin A. Thompson (1902-1999), became the first chancellor of George Mason College, and in 1972, the first president of the newly independent George Mason University. During his seven years, 1966-1973, the student population grew from 840 to more than 4,000; and in 1970 Mason began its first graduate program.
Vergil H. Dykstra (1925-2010), president of George Mason University from 1973 to 1977, described his years at Mason as demanding and difficult, but rewarding. Rapid growth of the University continued as undergraduate and graduate programs were added to the curriculum. He also proposed establishing a law school for the University and expanded academic facilities.
Robert C. Krug (1918-2006) came to George Mason College in 1965. Prior to accepting the presidency, after Vergil Dykstra's resignation in April 1977, Dr. Krug held the positions of Dean of the College, Dean of the Faculty and Graduate School, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. During his presidency from 1977 to 1978, Krug proved to be an effective lobbyist for funds from Richmond. He also obtained the University's first computers.
George W. Johnson (1928- ), inaugurated president in 1979, guided George Mason University from a small liberal arts college into a major university. In his eighteen years as president, George Mason University acquired doctoral status; establish a law school; instituted thirty-four new programs; created new organizational structures; including six academic institutes, and became a distributed university with campuses in Arlington and Prince William counties. Johnson also instituted the Early Identification Program and the Mason Scholars Program.
Alan G. Merten (1941- ) became the fifth president of George Mason University in July of 1996 and he has announced his retirement for June 2012. During his time as president, Merten has successfully stressed connecting research, teaching, and outreach activities; increasing the positive perception of George Mason; initiating activities with a local impact; and identifying and pursuing bases of financial support.
The Office of the President records contain material originating in or directed to the GMU Office of the President and used in the University's business. Types of material include memoranda, correspondence, studies, reports, speeches, meeting minutes, calendars, articles and newspaper clippings, publications, scrapbooks, and photographs. Topics and institutions to which these materials pertain include the University of Virginia (as GMU's parent institution), the Northern Virginia Center, University planning and expansion with regard to building and academic programs, the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV), and relations with Virginia government officials.
The collection is divided into seven series based on the president of the University. Exceptions to this scheme are the first two series: Annual Reports and Early History. Many of the annual reports were already grouped together, rather than dividing them by president they became the first series. Annual reports, written by the director or president, from George Mason College (1960-1969) to George Mason University (1971-1980), document the rate of change during George Mason's first twenty years. The reports stop in 1980 due to redundancy of information found in the annually released Factbook.
George Mason did not formally have a president until Chancellor Thompson became President Thompson in 1972. Series two encompasses the early history of George Mason University and includes information on the first directors of the institution - John Norville Gibson Finley and Robert H. Reid most notably. This series is titled Early History, and contains papers dating from 1949-1967 on the beginnings of George Mason as an institution when it was the University of Virginia (UVa) Extension Division's Northern Virginia University Center to the development of George Mason College. Included in the series is correspondence, building plans, reports, meeting notes, proposals, and articles.
In 1966 George Mason College became a four-year degree-granting institution and hired Lorin A. Thompson as chancellor. In 1972 Thompson became the first president of the newly independent George Mason University. Series three Lorin A. Thompson, with documents dating from 1964-1981, includes advisory board minutes, correspondence, faculty meeting minutes, educational planning, financial needs, university policies and procedures, land acquisition and building plans, memoranda, photographs, scrapbooks, and reports.
Series four, Vergil H. Dykstra, with papers dating from 1962 to 1980, focuses on the years Dykstra served as president of George Mason University from 1973 to 1977. This series includes budget reports, a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) report, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) papers, building plans, and documents from the University Center in Virginia, Inc.
Series five, Robert C. Krug, focuses on Dr. Krug's tenure as president during 1977-1978. Included in this series is correspondence, memoranda, documents on campus security officers and the 1977 bond referendum.
Series six, George W. Johnson, with materials dating from 1957 to 2004, is the largest series in this collection. George W. Johnson was president from 1979 to 1996 and successfully guided George Mason University from a small liberal arts college into a major university. Included in this series are facilities and education plans for expansion in Arlington and Prince William, articles and notes collected by Johnson, documents on athletics, Board of Visitors meeting minutes, daily calendars, documents on the campus police, correspondence, documents concerning Larry Czarda, correspondence with various state departments, facilities planning papers, the Faculty Senate meeting minutes, Governor's files, documents on Johnson's inauguration, memoranda, Office of the Attorney General correspondence, newsclippings, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) self-study, speeches, as well as documents from the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV), University life, and the Washington Research Libraries Consortium (WRLC). Photographs, scrapbooks, and the George Mason stamp are also present in this series.
Alan G. Merten became the fifth president of George Mason University in July of 1996 and he has announced his retirement for June 2012. Series 7, Alan G. Merten, includes documents from 1990-2004. Found within this series are papers concerning university athletics, economic development, partnerships, and conferences, as well as, correspondence and memoranda.
Organized into seven series by president. Each series is arranged alphabetically by subject and then chronologically.
This collection is currently being reprocessed and is unavailable for research at this time.
Some boxes contain student information and must be screened by an archivist before public use. These files are marked RESTRICTED.
Special Collections and Archives holds the George Mason University records.
For more on the history of George Mason University, visit the online exhibit A History of Mason.
Dykstra, Virgil H., 1925-2010.
Johnson, George W., 1928-.
Krug, Robert C., 1918-2006.
Merten, Allan G., 1941-.
Reid, Robert H., 1913-1970.
Thompson, Lorin A., 1902-1999.
George Mason University. Office of the President.
Universities and colleges--Administration.
Digital versions are available of two of the President Thompson scrapbooks.
George Mason University Office of the President records, Collection #R0019, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.
Donated by George Mason University.
Processed by Special Collections and Archives staff. This collection is currently being reprocessed.