Prince William Campus Celebration Spotlights Bull Run Hall, Freedom Center, Mercer Library

Posted: September 7, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

For the fourth time since it opened in 1997, George Mason’s Prince William Campus is holding a community celebration to dedicate a new building and recognize other campus milestones. The celebration set for tomorrow—Remembering the Past, Ringing in the Future!—marks the opening of Bull Run Hall, the fifth anniversary of the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, and the naming of the campus library.

Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. in front of Bull Run Hall, and members of the university community at all campuses are invited to attend. Mark Holcomb, chairman of the Prince William Campus Advisory Board, facilitates the program. Speakers include Sen. Charles Colgan, the senior senator in the Virginia General Assembly; Sean Connaughton, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Alan Merten; George Mason president, and Douglas Waldron, city of Manassas mayor.

Bull Run Hall
Bull Run Hall, Prince William Campus
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Attendees may tour the facility after the program, and a reception will be held in the lobby. In addition, a cake-cutting ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. in Mercer Library.

“The opening of Bull Run Hall is an important watershed providing new opportunities for academic growth, as well as programming options to enrich university life at the Prince William Campus,” says Larry Czarda, vice president, Prince William Campus.

Czarda explains that the rapid growth of the campus also marks the beginning of the next phase of George Mason’s commitment and presence in the Manassas/Prince William area. “Advancing the vision for the Prince William Campus is even more ambitious as we move forward with exciting plans for unique facilities and fresh opportunities that will be a source of pride for both the university and the community,” he says. “Despite the extraordinary success in developing the first four buildings in only seven years, it is important to note that we have seen only the opening chapter of what is to come.”

Bull Run Hall …

The largest academic building at the Prince William Campus, Bull Run Hall boasts a distinctive design of sparkling glass walls and a meandering white stairway. Although final construction details and furniture and equipment deliveries will continue for several weeks, the three-story, 100-000-square-foot building houses more than 1,200 academic stations in electronic classrooms, computer classrooms and labs, lecture halls, and science labs. Ample space also is available for faculty and staff offices, an information center, programming areas, and conference rooms. The Mason Enterprise Center@Prince William Campus opens later in the semester, offering business support services and a telework facility for the community.

Bull Run Hall classrooms are modeled after those in Innovation Hall, and include projection capability, VHS and DVD equipment, laptop connectivity, a document-stand camera and a touch-panel control device, sound systems, and a telephone and computer for instructor use. Computer classrooms are equipped with a computer at each seat, and noncomputer classrooms feature wireless network connectivity.

Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center …

“As we approach our fifth anniversary, I’m continually encouraged by the overwhelming support that we have received from area residents, as well as George Mason students, faculty, and staff,” says Ronald Carmichael, Freedom Center general manager. “By any measure, the center has become an extremely successful operation.”

In addition to a continuous stream of daily-use patrons, the center currently serves more than 7,900 members who range in age from six months to 85 years. More than 2.5 million participant visits have been logged since September 1999. The Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce recently named the center the 2003-04 Business of the Year.

A comprehensive, five-year strategic plan is being developed by the center’s management team to identify and satisfy the fitness, recreation, and wellness needs of those it serves. “We can celebrate our fifth anniversary with the knowledge that the future is bright and that we are preparing to meet its challenges,” says Carmichael.

Mercer Library …

Earlier this year, the Prince William Campus Library was named Mercer Library, and tomorrow’s celebration inaugurates the new name. John Mercer—lawyer, merchant, and farmer—was George Mason’s uncle and guardian.

While searching for a portrait of Mercer to display in the library, staff members discovered that only one portrait exists, owned by Mercer descendants Montague and Lucy Blundon. With assistance from Gunston Hall librarian Kevin Shupe, the Blundons were contacted and gave permission for the university to copy the portrait. The Blundons are expected to attend the celebration.

As Head Librarian Heather Hannan reflects on the growth and changes that have occurred at the campus library since its inception at the Prince William Institute, she draws an analogy with Mercer’s life. “Our namesake was a man who faced many challenges, a man of considerable energy and industry, and an admirable mentor to his young charge,” she says. “These are honorable footsteps to follow.”

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