Mason to End Partnership Regarding Co-Authority of Hemlock Overlook

Posted: March 5, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

Mason has announced it will terminate its 23-year cooperative agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority for operation of the Hemlock Overlook Center for Experiential Education. Mason will end its joint agreement with the park authority effective June 30, 2009.

Mason’s decision to bring the partnership to a close follows a thorough assessment of the facility’s cost viability.

Over time, usage of the Hemlock facility had grown substantially, but Mason student participation had dwindled to less than 3 percent, and the operation did not translate well with its original intent or current university direction. The ongoing demands of running the resource-intensive operation resulted in Mason assuming the burden of financial subsidies that were recurring and unsustainable.

Year-long negotiations with the park authority provided no relief for the future, forcing Mason to end its relationship while evaluating other options. As reported by Mason’s Office of Administration, while difficult, the decision to withdraw from the partnership will ultimately offer greater benefits and options for university students. Further, today’s challenging financial climate more than ever requires Mason and its peers to carefully choose the best opportunities for students.

The park authority has issued a proposal requesting other public and private entities with an interest in operating Hemlock as an experiential learning facility to submit bids. Should that occur, Mason will retain the ability to use Hemlock as appropriate.

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