New Office of Community College Partnerships to support the Mason Virginia Promise


George Mason University is launching an Office of Community College Partnerships to expand the Mason Virginia Promise, a program that guarantees every Virginian the opportunity to earn a four-year degree or assistance to start a business.

office comm college partnerships logo

The Office of Community College Partnerships will be home to the ADVANCE Program partnership between Mason and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)—one of the largest and most successful transfer pathways in the country—as well as budding partnerships with community colleges across the state.

“George Mason University is in the success business, and the Office of Community College Partnerships will help more Virginians be successful in reaching their academic and professional goals while strengthening the economic fabric of the commonwealth,” Mason President Gregory Washington said.

Featured on PBS NewsHour last year, the ADVANCE Program has been lauded nationally. ADVANCE students who come to Mason graduate two semesters faster than non-ADVANCE transfer students, and 92% of ADVANCE transfers graduate from Mason in less than two years.

There are now more than 3,600 active students in the ADVANCE Program, including 479 who joined for the spring semester. The fall-to-fall retention rate for the fall 2020 cohort at NOVA is 83% in ADVANCE, far surpassing the national average of 61%. 

students hold up an ADVANCE shirt at event
Northern Virginia Community College grads are welcomed at an ADVANCE event. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Since the program launched six years ago, more than 100 students have graduated from both NOVA and Mason. ADVANCE students are 60% first-generation, 68% students of color and 39% Pell Grant-eligible.

The expanded partners include Germanna Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, and Tidewater Community College. There are future partnerships under discussion with multiple community colleges across Virginia. 

“The Office of Community College Partnerships and the strength of Mason’s ongoing partnership with NOVA will help to ensure these new programs are a success,” said Jason Dodge, ADVANCE program director and executive director of the Office of Community College Partnerships. “The mutual goal has always been to rethink transfer—and we are proud to say that has been accomplished. We are now ready to scale its success.”

Rita Snyder Furr will serve as associate director of the Office of Community College Partnerships. In this expanded role, in addition to her continued support of the NOVA partnership, Rita will also support the operations of all transfer partnerships under the purview of the office.