Filed Under Places

The Clock

A Legacy of the Class of 1999

One of the most iconic landmarks on campus is also one of its most mysterious.

The Clock stands on Wilkins Plaza at the intersection of the Johnson Center, Horizon Hall, Fenwick Library, and David King Hall. The number "1999" appears on the clock’s face, as it was a gift to the university from Mason's Class of 1999. Its estimated cost, according to the only Broadside article written about the Clock from September 20, 1999, was $15,000.

The establishment of the Clock as a physical part of the Fairfax Campus began as a project led by John Butler, Student Government President, from 1998-1999. Butler wanted the Student Government and graduating class of that year to give back to the university and leave a lasting legacy. The plaque on the clock’s base lists the names of 113 students from the Class of 1999 who contributed toward the purchase of the clock. According to some members of the Class of 1999, they did not recall hearing about the clock and thought it suddenly appeared one day. Jimmie Foster, Jr., a Broadside photographer, took the earliest known photographs of the clock on May 1, 1999.

In December 2018, the clock was removed and stored in a warehouse to allow for the expansion of Wilkins Plaza as part of the Core Campus Project. While the clock was away, its manufacturer, Verdin, fully refurbished it. Students previously noticed that the clock’s time was a few minutes off. The clock now has digital controls that eliminate the need for it to be manually programmed and ensure that it displays the correct time automatically. Verdin also thoroughly cleaned the clock and gave it new scratch-resistant lenses. The clock was reinstalled on Wilkins Plaza in December 2020.

Today, the clock remains an important landmark and gathering place for students due to its central location on the Fairfax campus. Students conduct club activities like fundraisers and recruitment near the clock, where they can catch the attention of students leaving the Johnson Center and Fenwick Library. In addition, the clock serves as a meeting point for protests and emergency evacuations. Finally, it has become a tradition for graduating students to take photos with the clock.

Images

The Clock on Wilkins Plaza
The Clock on Wilkins Plaza The Clock on a sunny spring day with Southside in the background. Source: Special Collections Research Center Creator: Charlotte Corneliusen Date: April 10, 2023
Clock in Johnson Center North Plaza
Clock in Johnson Center North Plaza The Mason Clock, gift of the Class of 1999 in what is now called Wilkins Plaza. Broadside photographer Jimmie Foster, Jr.'s images of the clock are the earliest in existence. Source: George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, #R0135, Box 26, Page 133 Creator: Jimmie Foster, Jr. Date: May 1, 1999
Mason's Clock with its original face, "Class of 1999"
Mason's Clock with its original face, "Class of 1999" Clock on the North Plaza (now Wilkins Plaza). David J. King Hall is seen on the right. Source: George Mason University Creative Services Creator: Evan Cantwell Date: circa 1999
Students gather near the Clock
Students gather near the Clock Mason's Anointed Voices of Unity Gospel Choir practice by the Clock on the North Plaza (now Wilkins Plaza) at Fairfax Campus. Source: George Mason University Creative Services Creator: Alexis Glenn Date: August 29, 2012
North Plaza (now Wilkins Plaza)
North Plaza (now Wilkins Plaza) Students walk by the clock on the North Plaza (now Wilkins Plaza). THe former Robinson Hall is seen in the background. Source: George Mason University Creative Services Creator: Alexis Glenn Date: September 3, 2013
Clock Installation
Clock Installation Clock installation on Roger Wilkins Plaza on the Fairfax Campus. Source: George Mason University Creative Services Creator: Evan Cantwell Date: December 15, 2020
Horizon Hall, home of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Horizon Hall, home of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Students gather outside Horizon Hall. Source: George Mason University Creative Services Creator: Ron Aira Date: November 4, 2021
Mason Clock Dedication Plaque
Mason Clock Dedication Plaque The west-facing dedication plaque on the base of the Mason Clock. All four sides of its base have identical plaques. Source: Special Collections Research Center Creator: Robert Vay Date: April 24, 2023
Mason Clock Donor Plaque
Mason Clock Donor Plaque 113 students in the Class of 1999 and 3 alumni contributed toward the clock. Do you recognize any of these names? Source: Special Collections Research Center Creator: Robert Vay Date: April 24, 2023

Location

Metadata

George Mason University Past and Present Team, “The Clock,” The Mason Experience: Past and Present, accessed March 2, 2024, https://pastandpresent.gmu.edu/items/show/18.