A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Meet the Mason Nation: Robert Vay

By Buzz McClain, BA '77 on November 2, 2015

Job: Digital Collections and Exhibitions Archivist

Robert Vay

Robert Vay

Bob Vay, BA History ’92, came to Mason in August 1985 as a physical education major. When he graduated in 1992, he took a position with the National Archives in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. “Then I found this job in December 1993,” he said during a conversation in the Special Collections and Archives reading room in Fenwick Library at Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

What he does: “I take research materials in analog format and make them available digitally.” The University Libraries maintains Mason’s archive of photos and documents. Vay also supervises the university’s Oral History Program, collecting interviews “from people connected to Mason’s history or the more than 200 research collections the Libraries own.”

The best part of the job: “To be part of Mason, working with people who are like family. And being able to help people learn about their university.”

Most people don’t know this…: “The photo morgue of The Gunston Ledger and Broadside [now Fourth Estate] goes back to the ’60s; there are more than 40,000 images in that collection. The best chronicler of our history, day to day, over the past 50 years has been Mason’s school newspaper.”

What would be in a Mason Museum? “We have everything from a 1960s George Mason College sweatshirt to the Gunston [mascot] costume.”

What’s missing from the collection? “When the Fairfax Campus opened in 1964, they held a dedication in front of the North Building [now Finley]. Virginia governor Albertis S. Harrison Jr. presided, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall attended for LBJ, even the Marine Band was here. I’ve seen photos where you can see several big motion picture cameras filming. No one knows where that film is. It’s a mystery. I would love to have that here.”


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