Changes to Campus

Campus Construction 13

To Johnson, in order for Mason to become a distinguished school that could stand out against the others, it would have to be innovative and not copy the other schools in the region of Northern Virginia. To do this, Johnson brought together the University and the Fairfax County business community. [1] Around this period of time, Virginia was receiving a surge in immigration and popularity, as well as independent voters, who wanted a better quality of life in terms of financial well-being and education.[2] With this line of knowledge, it makes sense that the university would soon become a high-tech center of development, in conjunction with the assistance of institutions such as the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. Dealing with the technological boom and a demanding workforce dealing with computer software and hardware, Johnson established the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E). Among his education initiatives included changing the discipline structure, growing campus facilities, and reforming teaching practices.

As a result of his efforts, “George Mason became home of the Institute for Conflict Analysis, the Center for the Study of Public Choice, the Institute for Public Policy, and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies.” Johnson compensated for the growth in population by creating new campus locations, such as the Patriot Center and Center for the Arts; he also made additions to both the Arlington and Fairfax campuses, including the building named after him now,[3] which we can be seen in the upper-right corner.[4] One aspect of Johnson’s rein that had a major effect on future programs we still see today at Mason was the implementation of the PAGE program, later the Honors College. According to A History of Mason, Johnson’s commencement of this program in 1981 and later the New Century College program in the 1990s were powerful implementations that would “provide students with a solid, interdisciplinary approach to education with the objective of better preparing them for working in the real world.[5]

[1] “A History of George Mason University | 1978-1996: Emergence: George W. Johnson: A Biographical Sketch.” Accessed February 29, 2020. 

[2] Heinemann, Ronald L., John G. Kolp, Anthony S. Parent, and Williaam G. Shade. "A New Commonwealth: 1960–2007." In Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607–2007, 350-70. University of Virginia Press, 2007. Accessed April 1, 2020.

[3] “A History of George Mason University | 1978-1996: Emergence: George W. Johnson: A Biographical Sketch.” Accessed February 29, 2020.

[4] Campus Construction 13, 1990s, George Mason University, Fairfax VA,;sort:title%2Cdate%2Ccreator%2Csubject;lc:GMUDPSdps~38~38&mi=61&trs=578

[5] “A History of George Mason University | 1978-1996: Emergence: Learning Outside of the Box: PAGE, The Honors College, and New Century College.” Accessed March 31, 2020.