This post is a continuation of the the original post entitled Mason Inaugurations Through the Years.
Dr. Robert Krug became George Mason University’s third president although he never interviewed for it. The unexpected resignation of President Vergil Dykstra in April 1977 came as a surprise to many, but to none more so than Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Robert C. Krug. Krug was appointed Acting President immediately following Dr. Dykstra’s departure having learned of his new position after returning from a short vacation. He accepted the position with the stipulation that he did not wish to remain President; he would only fill in until a new president was chosen. His official duties began without fanfare on April 1, 1977. Dr. Krug’s most important goals during his short term as president were to effectively define and manage the budget and to oversee the emergence of the School of Law in Arlington, which he accomplished successfully. He also oversaw the completion of the first on-campus housing, and began the work of establishing a computer system for the university. Though his title was Acting President, Dr. Krug was later was named President Emeritus by the Board of Visitors at the end of his term.
The ceremony hailing Dr. George W. Johnson as Mason’s fouth president on Saturday April 7, 1979 was Mason’s first-ever presidential inauguration. April 7 was also University Day, the day Mason celebrates its becoming an independent university beginning in 1972. The first inauguration of a George Mason president was also designed to be a celebration of a successful year at Mason. Just a few months earlier the George Mason University School of Law had been created, and Mason had been approved by the state legislature to grant doctoral degrees.
The ceremony was held in the gymnasium of the Physical Education Building (today known as the Recreation and Athletic Complex or RAC). It began with a procession of Mason faculty, representatives from over sixty other colleges and universities, members of the Board of Visitors, Mason faculty, and students. The Mason Symphonic Winds Orchestra and Mason Chorus performed the music. Speakers included Dr. J. Wade Gilley, Virginia’s Secretary of Education; State Senator, Omer L. Hirst, who noted that Mason was “on the threshold of greatness”; alumni, faculty, and student representatives. Johnson’s inaugural speech entitled “Promise” stressed his desire to educate students to become “citizens” not merely professionals. Dr. Johnson was invested by Rector of Board of Visitors, Harriet “Happy” Bradley. The festivities ended with an inaugural ball held in the lower level of the Student Union Building (now known as Student Union Building I). A live band was on hand to play music from the 1940s through the 1970s.
Dr Alan G. Merten was inaugurated Mason’s fifth president on April 4, 1997 in Patriot Center. The event was a star-studded affair, as attendees included Virginia Governor, George Allen, U.S. Senator Charles Robb, and former Mason Presidents Drs. Vergil Dykstra, Robert Krug, and George Johnson.
After his investiture by Rector Marvin Murray, Dr. Merten gave his inaugural speech, during which he urged all members of the university community to be advocates of the expression of dissenting views and to “hold George Mason (the man) in their hearts” for his commitment to freedom and human rights. A reception was held afterwards on the plaza near Mason Hall.