Who Was That? Buildings Named for Key Players in University’s History

Posted: May 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nick Walker

Many of the older buildings on the Fairfax Campus were named after key people in Mason’s history. Following is a brief summary of some of the most notable.

groundbreaking with Charles Fenwick at center
Charles Fenwick, center, broke ground for what later became Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

Fenwick Library was named for Charles Rogers Fenwick, state senator from Arlington, Va., who was credited as “one of the state legislators most instrumental in getting George Mason College established as a branch of the University of Virginia.”

In 1963, Fenwick was the first to break ground for construction of Mason’s Fairfax Campus. Fenwick was also the rector of the Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia, 1964-65, and a member of the Advisory Committee for George Mason College, 1966-68.

J.N.G. Finley
J.N.G. Finley

The Finley Building was named after John Norville Gibson Finley, the original director of the Northern Virginia Center of the University of Virginia in 1949. Finley continued as director as the center expanded into a two-year college at Bailey’s Crossroads in 1957, and he remained at the college until 1963.

Harris Theatre was dedicated in 1981 in the name of Holbert Laird Harris (1883-1965), who was the president of the Northern Virginia Construction Company. One of Harris’ many charitable trusts benefited George Mason University.

George Johnson
George Johnson during his presidency

The George W. Johnson Center was named for Mason’s fourth president, who served from 1978 to 1996. Originally called the University Learning Center, the building was dedicated in his name at the end of his tenure at Mason. Johnson continues to be involved with the university to this day.

The Krasnow Institute was named for Shelley Krasnow, an electrical engineer by trade who also devoted his life to philosophy, science and a quest for knowledge. Upon his death in 1989, Krasnow left part of his estate to establish an institute for the “general advancement of human knowledge for the betterment of mankind.” From this, the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study was created.

Robert Krug
Robert Krug

Krug Hall was named for Robert Charles Krug (1918-2006), who joined Mason in 1965 and served as university president from 1977 to 1978 following the resignation of Vergil Dykstra. Prior to being president, Krug held various positions within the university, including dean of the college, dean of the faculty and graduate school, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Robinson Halls A and B were named in honor of Clarence J. Robinson, a Northern Virginia businessman. Robinson served as chairman to the Advisory Committee of George Mason College from 1964 to 1969. Upon his death in 1983, Robinson created a trust to benefit Mason that resulted in the Robinson Professors program for outstanding scholars dedicated to undergraduate education.

Lorin A. Thompson
Lorin A. Thompson

Thompson Hall was named for Mason’s first president, Lorin A. Thompson (1902-99), upon his retirement in 1973 after serving as president for seven years. Prior to becoming president, Thompson served as the chancellor of George Mason College from 1966 to 1972.

Some of the information above was paraphrased from “The Campus of George Mason University,” originally published by New Century College students David Avis, Matthew Carper, Renee Lewis, Daronda Combs and Soledad Roybal in 1996 and housed in the University Libraries Special Collections and Archives. All photos are from University Libraries Special Collections and Archives.

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