George Mason University at 50

We’ve always been green and gold—and this year we are golden

by Felicia Carr

George Mason University at 50

From its origins as a branch campus of the University of Virginia to its current status as Virginia’s largest, most inclusive, and most innovative university, George Mason University has experienced 50 remarkable years of growth and achievement. In just 50 years Mason has grown from a small University of Virginia branch campus to a fully independent R1 research powerhouse serving 39,000 students.   

Mason launched its year-long celebration of this milestone at 2022 Homecoming, the weekend of February 11. 

George Mason University grew out of the work and devotion of a group of people with the same goal; to bring higher education into the rapidly growing Northern Virginia region. Those early visionaries and the supportive residents of Fairfax have seen the university grow into a major educational, cultural, and innovation hub with nearly a quarter of a million alumni. 

The precursor to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), the College of Arts and Sciences, was right there from the start as well. Though our name changed, our commitment to serving all of Mason’s students and our community remains at the very center of our mission. The college is a hub of intellectual dynamism and diversity, as well as an access point to excellence for individuals of all backgrounds.  

Now at the 50th, CHSS is one of the largest colleges at Mason with over 700 faculty and staff, offering an expansive range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary degree programs to our diverse students (19 undergraduate majors, 69 minors, 13 graduate certificates, 18 master’s degrees, 9 doctoral degrees, and 22 accelerated master’s degree pathways). The college now boasts more than 67,000 incredible alumni who work and serve their communities in all 50 states and around the world. 

At CHSS, the liberal arts tradition of studying human minds, beliefs, languages, cultures, histories, societal structures, and forms of creative expression drives our community forward in advancing cutting-edge research, impactful service, and critical competencies for today’s global and knowledge-based economy. 

“I am profoundly grateful that over time,  this college’s dedicated faculty and staff always held our students paramount,” noted Dean Ann Ardis. “With our faculty’s  innovative research and teaching, the engagement of our staff and many alumni and supporters, and the drive and energy of our students, we are ready to partner together for the next 50 years to solve today’s grand challenges of ensuring a healthy planet, healthy people, healthy economies, and healthy societies.” 

The opening of the college’s new home, Horizon Hall, in tandem with the renovation of Wilkins Plaza and completion of the Memorial to the Enslaved People of George Mason, grounds us in our past and fuels us with hope and excitement as we look forward to the next 50 years. 

As Mason President Gregory Washington so memorably proclaimed in his recent investiture address, it’s Mason’s time.