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Why was George Mason University even necessary?

It all started with a man by the name of C. Harrison Mann. During a phone call in 1949 between the President of the University of Virginia Colgate Darden and Harrison Mann. According to Mann, the phone call was about one thing and one thing only, bringing higher education to Northern Virginia. [1]

At the time Northern Virginia was had the highest amount of people going to college in the state. It was also filled with people with higher incomes. The one thing that Northern Virginia lacked was a college in the area. Darden and Mann set out to bring that to the people of Northern Virginia. 

This time was full of Post-War innovation and advancements. Darden thought that not having a college in Northern Virginia was a huge gap in society's education. Darden took it upon himself to plant the seed for this idea. The reason he didn't spearhead this idea himself is he wanted the people of Northern Virginia to welcome this new development with open arms. In his eyes, this new college will be made by and utilized by the great people of Northern Virginia.


Groundbreaking ceremony for the Fairfax campus

Who was Harrison Mann and Colgate Darden?

Harrison Mann was born in Mobile Alabama. He got his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1931 and moved on to serve as a delegate on the Virginia General Assembly from 1954 to 1970. While on the Assembly he passed many different legislations, including banning obscene literature, medical assistance for the elderly and bills to support the creation of George Mason College. [2]

Colgate Darden was born in Southampton County. He fought in World War I, and after getting injured he finished his education and went on to serve as a delegate in the House after which he ran for governor of Virginia as a part of the Byrd Organization. [3] After his time as governor, he turned down a seat on the United States Senate to become the President of the University of Virginia, his alma mater. It would not be unreasonable to say that Darden made ground-shaking changes at the University of Virginia, including working on making higher education more available for women and African Americans. [4]  

[1] "1949-1954: The Idea; The Phone Call." A History of Mason. Last modified, 2020.

[2] Antigone, Susan. "C. Harrison Mann Dies." The Washington Post, November 29, 1977.

[3] "Colgate W. Darden Jr. (1947-1959)." University of Virginia.

[4] Heinemann, Ronald L. "Colgate W. Darden (1897–1981)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities. Last modified September 30, 2015.

The Current Climate