George Mason University is an institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with campuses in Arlington, Virginia, Fairfax, Virginia, and Prince William County, Virginia, all in the suburbs of Washington, DC. It is named after American Revolutionary patriot and founding father George Mason.
The university traces its roots back to the 1950s when it was part of the University of Virginia system. It became an independent university (but still publicly funded) in 1972. Its faculty boasts Nobel Prize-winning economists James M. Buchanan (1986) and Vernon Smith (2002). Another economics professor, Walter Williams, is well-known as a syndicated columnist and occasional guest host of the Rush Limbaugh radio show. The law school is ranked among the top 50 in the United States.
While GMU is newly independent, it has been growing rapidly, with a 2003 enrollment of 28,246 students it is now the largest university in the Commonwealth. GMU serves mainly the Northern Virginia community and as such is a popular destination for returning students and part-time students. As a result, many students are older than 18-22. In 2003, about 76% of full-time GMU students were commuters.
The school's sports teams are called the Patriots. The university's men's and women's sports teams participate in the NCAA's Division I, and are in the Colonial Athletic Association. The school's colors are Green and Gold.
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