Historic Campus Walking Tour Tells Mason’s Story
By Angelique LeBlanc
George Mason University is steeped in history and has an inspiring story to tell. The university’s namesake, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, was one of the influential founders of America. Today, the university’s faculty and students continue to make history in all sorts of ways.
To help tell this continually developing story, University Information director Mariama Boney and event information coordinator Angelique LeBlanc developed a historical walking tour, Patriots: Traditions and Today, a docent-led jaunt through the Fairfax Campus. Tours are available to the Mason community and visitors.
“The tour focuses on the history of Mason and its campus buildings through an overview of university facts, figures, and records,” Boney says. “Docents offer historical content as well as touch on current trends.”
Some of the first people to take the tour were Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members, Alumni Weekend attendees, and representatives from the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education. This summer, historical tours were given to more than 40 parents visiting campus during Orientation. Other tours have included groups of Mason staff and faculty and new Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel staff.
Tours run from 45 to 90 minutes and can be customized for the group. For example, for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute tour, participants walked a short distance through campus and then boarded a shuttle to drive around Patriot Circle.
“[The tour] was very informative, and not only were the docents knowledgeable about Mason and its origin, they were very engaging and enthusiastic,” says Pam Lewis, assistant director for prospect research in the Development Office.
Tour docents go through a rigorous application and training program that includes 10 hours of customer service and public speaking workshops and memorizing a 20-page script. The inaugural docent cohort includes Mason alumni and current graduate and undergraduate students. There are currently two lead and four volunteer docents. Lead docent Alesia Smith, a forensic science major, says she joined the team to share her love of Mason with other members of the community.
“This is an incredible time for Mason to begin a program such as this and have it grow and age as the university does,” says Tremayne Robertson, University Information associate director. “We are situated in no better time than now to collect and compile facts and nuances that will make this program a living artifact for the future and for Patriots to come.”
Tours are given April through November. To arrange a tour December through March, a special request form must be completed. Special requests during these months will be considered based on staffing availability and weather conditions.
In addition, applications to be a volunteer docent are available online. Volunteer docents can be current Mason students, alumni or interested community members.
This article originally appeared on the university’s News site.