Browse Exhibits (7 total)

Clarence J. Robinson and the Robinson Professors Program


            Clarence J. Robinson was a prominent Northern Virginia businessman who was highly involved in the early development of George Mason University. As the namesake of both Robinson Hall and the Robinson Professors program, his legacy remains an integral part of the university’s culture and reputation. Robinson served as the Chairman of George Mason College’s Advisory Board from 1964-1970, when the young institution was still a branch of the University of Virginia, and contributed in many ways towards the school’s growth. Among his most important contributions was the donation of half his estate, valued at $5 million, to Mason upon his death in 1983. Before his death, Robinson is said to have explicitly conveyed to George W. Johnson (president of the university and a close friend of Robinson’s) that he wanted his donation not to be used on the university’s buildings, but on its people. Robinson’s donation ultimately allowed for the establishment of the Robinson Professors program in 1984 by President Johnson, which to this day serves to attract distinguished faculty to the school and to elevate its standards of education and scholarship.

            While the Robinson Professors program has shown itself to be a lasting and important institution for the university, it did not arise without opposition. From the program’s inception, President Johnson decided to use Robinson’s donation funds exclusively to bring in new, big-name faculty members to the university; however, some disgruntled university members felt that the funds should instead be used to support existing faculty.1 Robinson intended for his donation to go towards the people that would build the university up, after all, and it is possible that either avenue could have satisfied his wishes.

            The goal of this research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Robinson Professors program, both in terms of advancing the university’s mission and fulfilling the wishes of its benefactor. A variety of sources are considered in order to gain a better understanding of Clarence J. Robinson’s vision for Mason, and to identify the benefits and drawbacks of this innovative program as it was set up by President Johnson.


[1] “A Dedication to the Teaching of Undergraduates: The Introduction of the Robinson Professors Program,” George Mason University: A History. George Mason University Libraries, 2020.

, , ,

Influence of Edwin Lynch on Mason Neck and Fairfax County


Edwin Lynch is not a household name, but he was a very influential man in his community. Through this research project, the author will look at sources from scholars, reporters, and Lynch himself to explain how he has influenced the Mason Neck and greater Fairfax County communities. By looking at important issues that Lynch was concerned with, such as desegregation and peace studies, the reader can piece together an image of how far Edwin Lynch’s leadership reached. The author will look specifically at Edwin Lynch’s background, the poll tax in Virginia, education and desegregation in Virginia, and Lynch’s contributions to George Mason Unversity. While there are no scholarly works directly linked to Mr. Lynch himself, there are many sources from the time period that can assist in determining his greater effect on his community and hometown. 

Jaxon Upchurch


George W. Johnson, George Mason University's Most Renowned President

George W. Johnson with the Johnson Center .png

George Mason University's Johnson Center, named after George W. Johnson, a notable president in the development of the institute, is looked at in terms of his accomplishments, as well as his overall impact on the genereal atmosphere of campus life. 

, , ,

The Founding of GMU


George Mason University was not always George Mason University. It was originally a part of The University of Virginia. In 1972 George Mason College, as it was known then, separated from The University of Virginia and became George Mason University. The main questions I had with this was: who was involved in the GMC seperation from UVA and why was it necessary?

I first dive into the current socio/political climate and it's effects on education during the time of The Seperation. See The Current Climate for more information.

I will then talk about the details of The Seperation and will also touch upon the student's reaction to the news. See The Seperation for more information.

From my research I found that during the first six years of GMU, the university witnessed three different presidents. See The First Three for more information.

, , , , , , ,

The Mason Family Gentry and the Civil War

The Civil War devastated the nation and had economic consequences that ravaged the ex-Confederate south. Historians agree that with the Union blockade which resulted in very few imports and exports, along with mass destruction of infrastructure, the south was severely hit by the destructive effects of the war. Specifically, the planter gentry class were hit worse than the average citizen since they lost their main means of income and prestige as plantations were targeted for destruction along with the passage of the 13th amendment to U.S. Constitution. The war would not effect the south only economically however, as the war would also have social effects of bitterness and shame which would contribute to the development and spread of myths regarding the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. Members of the Mason family during this time period were part of the southern gentry and would no doubt lose significant amounts of property along with their pride. This project hopes to see how the Civil War effected the gentry class socially and economically by using three examples from the Mason family. The three examples that will be examined are Betsey Clapham Mason (wife of Thomson Francis Mason), Gunston Hall, and James Murray Mason.

, , , , ,

Kate Mason Rowland: Bias and Historical Contributions

Kate Mason Rowland, later referred to as Kate Mason, was known as a historian and many other professions such as an author and more. She is best known for her biography on her ancestor, George Mason IV. Rowland served as a nurse in Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. After her involvement, she went on to become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy which championed the idea of the Lost Cause. Her views were sympathetic to the Confederate States of America and she supported the idea of secession since she subscribed to the idea of the war’s primary cause being the issue of States’ Rights. Rowland's published works, primarily her biography on George Mason IV, exhibit the views she held and what she hoped to attempt by recounting the story of one of America's Founding Fathers. Given her strong and controversial views, was Kate Mason Rowland a true historian? Did her views manifest themselves in her work?

This exhibit examines what views Kate Mason Rowland held alongside how she conducted and wrote her works centered on history. Furthermore, this exhibit also explores public perception and reviews on Rowland's works as well as her views regarding the South. It is the aim of this exhibit to explore the colorful and interesting character of Kate Mason Rowland and how that translated in her writing. Not many speak of Rowland and her visibility has died down. Many times, she is only briefly mentioned as a descendent of George Mason IV. Rowland does not get enough attention even though her ideas and involvement in the American Civil War only add to the depth of this nation’s history.

, , , , ,