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Former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton joins Mason faculty

May 25, 2017

Anne Holton will serve as a visiting professor in Mason's College of Education and Human Development and Schar School of Policy and Government.

Fairfax, Va. (May 25, 2017) - George Mason University is announcing that former Virginia Secretary of Education and former first lady Anne Holton will join the faculty as a visiting professor.

She will have a dual appointment at the Schar School of Policy and Government and the College of Education and Human Development. She will also serve as a Senior Fellow of the Center for Education Policy and Evaluation.

“I have long been a fan of George Mason University and am delighted to be joining the extraordinary faculties at the College of Education and Human Development and the Schar Policy School,” Holton said. “Public education faces important challenges. We need to bring bright minds together across disciplines to focus on policy solutions that ensure every student regardless of circumstances has a pathway to a successful future. I look forward to helping bring Mason’s academic resources to bear on these and other important challenges in education.”

Like Holton, Mason is committed to making education accessible. Through partnerships with public and private organizations, the university looks to provide multiple pathways and delivery formats to meet student needs.

“We are delighted to welcome Secretary Holton to the faculty of George Mason University,” Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “Her innovative and caring approach to education will strengthen Mason’s role as a thought leader in educational policy as well as enhance our development of the next generation of educators.”

Holton’s new role at Mason continues her family’s long association with the university. Her father, former Governor of Virginia, Linwood Holton, signed the legislation that granted Mason its independence from the University of Virginia.

Holton served as Virginia’s Secretary of Education from January 2014 until July 2016, when her husband, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, became the Democratic vice presidential candidate. During her tenure, she pushed for an overhaul of high school graduation requirements to ensure graduates were prepared for the workforce. She also worked to reform the state’s standardized testing and to implement school discipline changes meant to reduce student suspensions, expulsions and arrests.

As a child, she experienced first-hand the importance of equal opportunities in education, when her parents enrolled Holton and her siblings in formerly segregated schools.

“It was the first time I can remember being a part of something bigger than myself, and the experience helped make me the person I am today,” she said during a 2016 recognition ceremony for her father at Mason.

Secretary Holton serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Board of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which oversees educational policy for Virginia’s elementary and secondary schools. In this role, she is working with her colleagues to reform student evaluation and school performance measurements and is assessing how state interventions can improve the student experience to ensure all of Virginia’s children receive a high-quality education.

The Board is also focused on redesigning and developing new initiatives focused on college readiness, workforce preparation, and citizenship.

Mason is known for its strong programs in education and public policy, both of which produce career-ready graduates who strive to make a difference in the world. Mason recently improved its ranking on Forbes’ “Best Value College” list, and its public policy graduate program and education graduate programs are consistently highly ranked as well.

“Having Secretary Holton as a faculty member will help us continue to meet our mission of excellence in education,” said Mark Ginsberg, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “We look forward to her working closely with our faculty, supporting and helping to mentor our CEHD graduate students as well as collaborating with school leaders throughout the region.”

Dean Mark J. Rozell added: “We can think of no one better to play the key role in developing and enhancing the Schar School's work in the critical field of education policy."

Secretary Holton previously served as the program director for the Great Expectations Education Program for Foster Youth, a judge for the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and in other legal and consulting positions.

She earned a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Her brother, Woody, is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.​ Learn more at gmu.edu.