George Mason University's growing reputation as an innovative educational leader is rooted in Virginia's strong educational tradition.
George Mason University began as the Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia in 1957, and since that time has developed a growing reputation as an innovative educational leader as well as a partner in the enrichment of the Northern Virginia region. It's offering a home to the Fall for the Book Festival is one example of the source of energy it has become for activities and undertakings that help the area to reach its fullest potential. The university's partnership with the City of Fairfax reaches way beyond their jointly inaugurating Fall for the Book, of course. Eager to support the fledgling institution, the Town (now City) of Fairfax purchased 150 acres in 1958 and donated it to the University of Virginia for a permanent branch campus, giving George Mason its own home campus. In March 1966, the General Assembly authorized the expansion of George Mason College into a four-year, degree-granting institution and gave it the long-range mandate to expand into a major regional university. In 1972, the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia recommended that the college separate from its parent institution and on April 7 of that year, the governor signed the General Assembly legislation that established Mason as an independent member of the commonwealth's system of colleges and universities.
Since 1972, the university's development has been marked by rapid growth and innovative planning as Mason expanded its presence to serve the entire Northern Virginia region. In doing so, it employed the revolutionary concept of the "distributed" university. It acquired a school of law and a campus in Arlington in 1979, and established the Prince William Campus in 1997.
It also has established a reputation of national distinction in many areas, including the fine and performing arts, public policy, and high tech engineering. Its reputation continues to grow as the university provides an educational, cultural, and economic resource for the people of Northern Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation.