Then and Now: Mason’s Evolution Since the 2006 NCAA Tournament

Posted: March 14, 2011 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: March 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

By Daniel Walsch

The new Founders Hall on Mason's Arlington Campus is a visible sign of Mason's growth over the past five years. Creative Services photo

With Mason’s men’s basketball team about to embark on another NCAA tournament adventure, it is interesting to see how the university has evolved since 2006, when the Patriots captivated the nation by making it all the way to the Final Four.

The George Mason University of 2011 is different in many ways from the institution it was in 2006.

The number and quality of students has changed; the number and breadth of academic programs have increased; research has grown; and many new facilities have been constructed.

Following are some of the noteworthy changes over the past five years.


Since 2006, the university’s overall student enrollment has climbed from 29,728 to 32,562. Along with this, the number of undergraduate student applications went from 15,887 in 2006 to 19,991 for the current academic year. Five years ago, Mason’s acceptance rate was 70 percent. In 2011, the acceptance rate is 50 percent.

The number of incoming freshmen has grown from 2,529 in 2006 to a present-day 2,656. Also, the number of freshmen living on campus has risen from 1,500 to 1,903, while Mason’s residential population overall has grown from 3,995 in 2006 to the current 5,400.

Academic Programs

In 2006, Mason offered 156 degree programs. At present, the total is 199. Among the new degree programs created over the past five years are: computer game design (BFA), global and environmental change (BS), computer forensics (MS), real estate development (MS), global health (MS) and bioinformatics management (MS).

In 2006, the Honors College didn’t exist. Now, more than 800 students are enrolled.


In 2006, Mason’s faculty generated $65 million in sponsored research funds. In the past five years, this total has grown to more than $100 million. Emerging as key areas of research since 2006 are climate change, transportation, neurological diseases, bioterrorism and cancer.


Capital outlay spending at Mason has grown from $40 million in 2006 to a present-day total of $160 million. Currently, Mason boasts 168 buildings; in 2006, it had 140. Among the nearly 30 buildings that have opened at Mason in the past five years are the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel, Research I and the Long and Kimmy Nguyen Engineering Building on the Fairfax Campus; Founders Hall on the Arlington Campus; and the Hylton Performing Arts Center and the Biomedical Research Laboratory on the Prince William Campus.  The Masonvale community of 155 townhomes was built to provide faculty and staff housing adjacent to the Fairfax Campus.

Budget and Fundraising

In 2006, Mason’s operating budget totaled $528 million. That figure is now up to $887 million. Mason raised $20 million in gifts in 2006. This figure is now up to $51 million. Five years ago, Mason had 13,150 donors. In 2011, the number is 14,678.

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