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Edgar Allen Prichard

Edgar Allen Prichard, former Board of Visitors (BOV) rector and an instrumental figure in bringing George Mason University to Fairfax, died August 15.

As a member of the Fairfax City Council from 1953 to 1964 and then as mayor of Fairfax from 1964 to 1968, Prichard provided George Mason with the support and encouragement crucial to its transition from a fledgling two-year extension of the University of Virginia to its present stature as a major university.

He became a trustee of the George Mason University Foundation shortly after its formation in 1966 and served as president of the foundation from 1968 to 1969. He was a member of the BOV from 1982 to 1991 and served as rector from 1989 to 1991. In 1995, he received the George Mason Medal, the university's highest honor, in recognition of his contributions to the community, the commonwealth, and the nation.

At the time of his death, he was a trustee emeritus of the foundation, as well as the honorary founding chairman and a charter member of the Legacy Society, established to honor alumni and friends who have made provisions for planned gifts to the university.

Prichard attended the University of Oklahoma and, in 1948, earned his LL.B. from the University of Virginia. A specialist in land-use law, he helped draft the First Cluster Ordinance for Fairfax County, as well as numerous other zoning provisions. He also served as president of the Fairfax Bar Association in 1964 and vice president of the Virginia State Bar in 1969.

Survivors include his daughter, Helen Foster, and her husband, Thomas C. Foster, both members of the class of 1969. Donations in his honor are being received by the GMU Foundation for the Edgar Allen Prichard Scholarship Endowment, created in 1989 by his colleagues at McGuire Woods, L.L.P.

Joseph Shirk

Department of Music chair Joseph D. Shirk died from cancer September 7 at the Hospice Center of Northern Virginia. Shirk joined George Mason University in 1994 as chair of the Department of Music, where he provided artistic and administrative leadership. He quickly recognized that the department was in desperate need of funds for music scholarships and established an external Music Scholarship Development Committee.

This past spring, the Music Department hosted the fourth annual Music Scholarship Benefit Concert, a fund-raising effort founded by Shirk and supported by the Music Scholarship Development Committee. During the past four years, more than $700,000 in scholarship funds have been raised.

Joseph Shirk was the best administrator I have ever worked for in my entire professional career. He was extremely dedicated and hard working, and he led by example. I was honored to be a member of his faculty," says Tony Maiello, Music.

President Alan Merten remembers Shirk as an entrepreneur. "When I accepted my position as president, the first piece of mail I got from George Mason University was from Joe Shirk. His letter included excellent material on the Department of Music. His enthusiasm was obvious, and he encouraged me to learn more about our music program," Merten says.

This year, shortly before he was diagnosed with cancer, Shirk was appointed as interim director of the Institute of the Arts. He wrote "A Vision for the Arts: George Mason University Arts Restructuring Proposal," which was used as the basis for the newly created College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Last year, Shirk and his wife, Jean, celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. Together, they have one son, Christopher, a 20-year-old computer engineering student at Virginia Tech.

Shirk was an active performer with professional organizations, including the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, the New England Regional Opera, and the New Hampshire Festival Orchestra. He held a B.S.M.E. from the University of Illinois, an M.M. in oboe performance from the New England Conservatory, and a D.M.A. from the University of Missouri--Kansas City Conservatory of Music.

Donations in Shirk's memory may be made to the Joseph D. Shirk Music Scholarship Fund or the Hospice of Northern Virginia.

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