President's Blog

Mason students help plan Fairfax future

By Cathy Wolfe & Ángel Cabrera

As we knew they would, our students played a crucial, proactive role in the three-day “Vision Fairfax Mason” event last week, when the Mason and City of Fairfax communities met to brainstorm ways we can make the most of our partnership.

Many of the Mason students who participated in the “charrette” likely will have graduated by the time the medium- and long-term projects are completed. But their ideas are likely to share the experience of future Mason students.

Vision Fairfax MasonAnd, with all of the job opportunities in the National Capital Region, many of our graduates will make the City of Fairfax their home as they start careers or pursue advanced degrees. Or both.

It was great to see the involvement of our students, faculty and staff, whether they attended the event or submitted their recommendations for consideration.

University and city officials identified several items that we can address right away. We can:

  • Create a more unified university/city feel, with better signage and an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and with more bike parking and bike sharing.
  • Assist students, faculty and staff with finding available on-campus parking by providing real-time parking information either at Mason entrances or by implementing more apps.
  • Provide late-night public access to Mason shuttles.
  • Add a Mason shuttle stop in Old Town Fairfax, especially around lunch time so that students, faculty and staff can visit City of Fairfax businesses without losing their parking spaces on campus.
  • Form topic-based working groups that bring together university and city representatives to discuss next steps on a variety of issues identified in the charrette.
  • Continue to encourage downtown merchants to accept Mason Money and carry Mason gear.
  • Create a University 100 “lesson plan” for Mason students to learn about city activities and offerings.
  • Coordinate the Mason Campus Master Plan with the downtown concept.
  • Incorporate sustainability throughout the planning and development process.

Here is a more comprehensive report, with the recommendations starting on page 58. And here is the social media conversation that took place during the three-day session.

As Ángel mentioned at the event, let’s figure out how the university and city can make each other the best we can be. We need to think big, think long term and think creatively to imagine what we can become together.