The aim of this research project was to provide an overview of the beginnings of the Robinson Professors program, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program with regards to both the university’s development and its fulfillment of Robinson’s wishes. The research included an analysis of a variety of sources which provided input on the positive and negative effects associated with programs of this sort, and gave background on Robinson’s life and intentions for the university. While the program did lead to some unhappiness among existing faculty at the time, which could have led to a decrease in their satisfaction and productivity,1 there were many positive effects that the program had on the university’s development. The positive effects of faculty role model programs that were identified included increased scholarly productivity at the university and satisfaction in the workplace.2 However, administrative oversight and evaluation of faculty mentorship programs may be needed to make the most of such programs.3 It is not clear whether such oversight and evaluation occurred for the Robinson Professors program, and it may have run contrary to the freedoms the professors were promised in their recruitment to the university. Nonetheless, the Robinson Professors program has served as an important and lasting institution at Mason, and has served to increase the scholarly activity, reputation, and educational experience at the university.

            “Bring the people in; the bricks and mortar will follow.”4 Surely this wish of Robinson’s has shown itself to be fulfilled. To this day, George Mason University continues to spread across Northern Virginia and attract exceptional faculty both in and outside of the Robinson Professors program.


[1] Jeffrey Pfeffer and Nancy Langton. “The Effect of Wage Dispersion on Satisfaction, Productivity, and Working Collaboratively: Evidence from College and University Faculty.” Administrative Science Quarterly 38, no. 3 (September 1, 1993): 382–407.
[2] Inge Weijden et al. “How Do Young Tenured Professors Benefit from a Mentor? Effects on Management, Motivation and Performance.” Higher Education 69, no. 2 (February 2015): 275–287.
[3] Lisa Ehrich, Brian Hansford, and Lee Tennent. “Formal Mentoring Programs in Education and Other Professions: A Review of the Literature.” Educational Administration Quarterly 40, no. 4 (October 2004): 518–540.
[4] George W. Johnson, interview by Helen Ackerman and Katja Hering, May 26, 2005, interview Part I, recording, George Mason University Oral History Project collection, Collection #R0095, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.