Community Support Is the Secret of Success

Posted: August 9, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

When President Alan Merten reminisces about his first visit to the Prince William Campus site in Manassas in the spring of 1996, he talks about seeing farmlands, construction, and potential. Four years later, the first phase of that potential has been realized through the support and cooperation of Prince William area businesses, community leaders, and legislators.

Over the summer, Merten has been meeting with Prince William County legislators and business and community leaders, enjoying the opportunity to showcase the programs and facilities at the Prince William Campus. Citing the tremendous support the campus has received from the city of Manassas, Prince William County, and members of the Virginia General Assembly, Merten says, “Establishing a strong university presence in the Prince William area took a lot of pioneering. Our supporters saw an opportunity that presented a certain amount of risk, but the probability of success was high. We were doing something risky,” he explains, “but it was not a foolish risk.”

Merten, city of Manassas Mayor Marvin Gillum, and Executive Vice President Randall Edwards have lunch at the Prince William Campus with a group of Early Identification Program students.

Today, the Prince William Campus comprises three buildings, and construction on a fourth building is set to begin when funding is approved by the state. “We have developed a campus identity,” says Merten. “We have acquired the characteristics–specific and general–of a multifunction campus, and we are well connected to the community.” The Freedom Center is a symbol of the spirit of the Prince William Campus, he says. “It is a highly visible facility; it is a partnership between the university, the city, and the county that has exceeded all expectations of success; and it is a destination that brings community members to the campus.”

Merten smiles broadly as he talks about his recent meeting with city of Manassas Mayor Marvin Gillum. “Mayor Gillum says the greatest thing to happen to Manassas is George Mason University.”

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