George Mason University President Gregory Washington leads Virginia's largest and most diverse public university, a top-tier research institution that has rapidly emerged as a leader in innovation, entrepreneurship and social mobility for students of all backgrounds.
In fall 2023, Mason welcomed the largest and most diverse freshman class in its history – and its most academically prepared – to become the first four-year public university in Virginia to enroll more than 40,000 students. The university’s 2023 graduating class was the largest in state history.
The university also continues to grow in stature. The Wall Street Journal (#33) and Forbes (#40) rank Mason among the best public universities in the country. In 2023, Mason was named Virginia’s top public university for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Monthly. The New York Times ranks Mason as Virginia’s top public university for economic diversity. Mason was also ranked the 51st public university in the country and 105th overall in U.S. News’ Best Colleges 2024.
In addition, Mason is a top 20 university nationwide for innovation and a top 50 (#49) for veterans, according to U.S. News. Both are the highest rankings among Virginia public universities. Under Washington’s leadership the university also achieved its highest ranking, 8th nationally, for First Amendment observation from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), and is the only university in Virginia to achieve Campus PRIDE’s “Best of the Best” distinction.
Since launching his Mason presidency in July 2020, Washington has created new academic and entrepreneurial pathways, opened or broken ground on academic facilities on all three Virginia campuses across the university’s 848 acres, and presided over the highest research expenditures and philanthropy in Mason history. In 2023, Washington announced “Mason Now: Power the Possible,” a one-billion-dollar comprehensive campaign to support student success, research, innovation, community, and sustainability.
Washington, the former engineering dean at Ohio State University (interim) and the University of California, Irvine, has strengthened Mason’s commitment to access and opportunity by creating the Mason Virginia Promise (MVP), a pathway to a Mason degree or help starting a business for any Virginian who aspires to either goal. MVP expands Mason’s national award-winning ADVANCE Program Partnership with Northern Virginia Community College to select community colleges throughout the state. The Mason Virginia Promise Grant helps provide opportunities to students from low-income backgrounds.
Washington, Mason’s eighth president, established the President’s Innovation Advisory Council to bring together industry, local government, K-12 education, and non-governmental organizations to form an innovation ecosystem with Mason as its hub. On Mason’s campus in Arlington, now known as Mason Square, Washington marshaled the largest public-private partnership in Mason’s history, FUSE at Mason Square. FUSE will house faculty and students working with the Institute for Digital InnovAtion and their partners, and graduate programs from Mason’s School of Computing, the first of its kind in Virginia. Washington, named to the Virginia 500 Power List by Virginia Business in each of his four years at Mason, has established and expanded many partnerships for economic and social impact, including a partnership with Amazon and Amazon Web Services on a host of potential projects.
In November 2022 on the Fairfax Campus, Washington led in establishing the first College of Public Health in Virginia to meet the critical growing need for skilled, interdisciplinary health professionals and research across the state. On the Science and Technology Campus in Manassas, the university developed partnerships to simultaneously break ground on the new Life Sciences and Engineering Building and the Innovation Town Center and University Village at Innovation projects. In addition, Mason Korea enrollment has grown by more than 20%, expanding Mason’s global presence in Asia.
Washington’s Mason Innovation Commission convenes many of the university’s most forward-thinking faculty, staff and administrators to conceive strategic recommendations. This effort served as a precursor to a university-wide strategic planning effort, culminating in the release of Mason’s Strategic Direction, “All Together Different,” in 2022.
Washington’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) initiative resulted in programs and initiatives aimed at improving the climate on campus for all students. An annual conference was established in October 2022 to celebrate the impact of research in shaping a future of equal opportunity.
Washington, the first Black president in Mason history, began his presidency during the pandemic. He guided the 26th-largest employer in the Greater Washington region, as compiled by the Washington Business Journal, through the public health crisis by implementing a safety plan that included surveillance testing and rapid-return saliva testing developed by Mason faculty for quick identification and isolation of positive cases. Mason was one of the first universities to offer COVID-19 antibody research screening for students, faculty and staff.
Prior to coming to Mason, Washington served for nine years as dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Among his achievements there were significantly expanding enrollment in the engineering school, hiring more faculty and administrators from underrepresented groups, and implementing STEM outreach programs with the greater community. Washington established the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Diversity Recognition Program, which has more than 200 participating universities.
Washington launched his academic career in 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at Ohio State University. He became an associate professor in 2000 and a professor in 2004, earning several teaching awards. Washington began serving as the associate dean for research in 2005 and from 2008 to 2011 served as interim dean of the Ohio State engineering school, one of the largest in the country.
An accomplished researcher, Washington specializes in dynamic systems, with an emphasis in the modeling and control of smart material structures and systems. He has conducted research for the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, General Motors, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Army Research Office, among others.
In fall 2023, Washington was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering.
Washington’s current board service includes S&P Global, Internet2, Engineering Science Research Foundation, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Washington Gas. Previous board service includes the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, NSF Engineering Advisory Committee, and the Institute for Defense Analyses.
A first-generation college graduate, Washington is a New York City native who attended high school in North Carolina. He earned bachelor’s (1989) and master’s degrees (1991) and his PhD (1994), all in mechanical engineering, at North Carolina State University.