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President's Blog

A milestone in D.C.’s emergence

I was glad to see Mason included in Washingtonian magazine’s “50 Moments That Shaped Washington, DC.,” a recognition of the important role our university has played in building the educational, cultural, and economic fabric of the National Capital Region.

Other important milestones on the list include the first full year of operation for the Beltway (1965), the construction of Tysons Corner Center (1968), the debut of the Metro system (1976), the unveiling of the Vietnam Memorial (1982), and the opening of the MCI Center (1997).

Washingtonian references our humble beginnings and trumpets the modern era of the university that began in 1972 (the same year the pandas arrived in town!).

“When it finally became a full-fledged four-year institution, it was a sign of how power had shifted in the Old Dominion: Washington-area counties were now able to pony up millions to build the place,” the article says. “Today, GMU has graduate schools, research centers – and a record of having broken DC universities’ monopoly on public-policy expertise.”

Our role today is more prominent than ever. Our 170,000 alumni – most of whom find jobs in the Washington area and settle here – run some of the most successful and innovative companies in the region. They hold influential positions in all levels of government. They educate our children. They create jobs for others.

Mason’s rise to academic prominence didn’t come at the expense of providing access to a diverse pool of students. On the contrary, Mason has become an example of diversity and inclusion, and a rare case in American higher ed where academic success is not determined by ethnic or socioeconomic status. This year’s freshman class set a new record in size and diversity, with about one-third of students being the first in their families to go to college.

The stories of Mason, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C., are and will remain intimately intertwined, as we continue to find ways to shape and enrich our region.

Hey, how many new kids on the block also get to design and build the neighborhood?