Chuck Colgan: Behind the Scenes of Mason's Expansion

Buzz McClain

One of the highlights of Charles Colgan’s 40-year career in Virginia politics was helping establish a western campus for George Mason University in Prince William County.

“My role has always been to get the money to expand the university,” Colgan said in a 2015 interview for the Mason Oral History Founders Series, and that he did. According to state senate finance figures, Colgan was responsible for sponsoring a total of $1.2 billion for higher education in Virginia, $600 million of it for Mason.

Developing the western campus, briefly known as the Prince William Institute, meant fending off larger and better-established universities lobbying Richmond for the resources. Without Colgan’s considerable involvement, Mason’s Science and Technology Campus in the senator’s home district in Prince William County might not have overcome the hurdles—financial and political—that it encountered.

“Without Chuck Colgan, there might not be a campus, it’s that simple,” said Jimmy Hazel, previous chair of Mason’s Foundation Board of Trustees, a current member of the Board of Visitors and a 1984 graduate of Mason’s law school.

For his part, quiet and unassuming as always, Colgan said helping create Mason’s Prince William Campus “has been a labor of love. I’ve always had a great deal of affection for George Mason. I feel very good about what we’ve done and where we’re going.”

There will be a formal unveiling of a statue honoring the senator at Colgan Hall on Sunday, September 25: the senator's 90th birthday. Read more on the Mason NewsDesk.

9/22/2016 - CM