Thursday, November 7, 2013

A New Future for a New Gunston Hall

In 2012, the Board of Regents of Gunston Hall initiated a planning process designed to articulate strategies necessary for the advancement of Gunston Hall over the next five years.  Led by a committee of Regents, this process also included the participation, involvement, and input of a diverse group of volunteers, neighbors, community leaders, political figures, subject matter experts, partners, and representatives of the staff team.  The Strategic Planning Committee sought this broad constituency as part of a renewed organization-wide commitment to engagement and the energy, insight, and inspiration provided by these supporters informed and shaped the resulting Plan in significant ways.  Accordingly, on behalf of the Regents, I am honored and pleased to thank all those who participated in development of the Plan. The Plan’s richness, breath, and scope would not have been possible without these dedicated individuals; thank you!

The Board of Regents of Gunston Hall adopted the Strategic Plan during their October meeting and I am excited to publically share key aspects of this Plan in our Blog.  Specifically, the Plan articulates the following:


That both George Mason and Gunston Hall achieve broader national recognition, George Mason for the significance of his unique contributions to the universal cause of human rights and Gunston Hall as a premier historic site, for the purpose of increasing the knowledge and understanding of those we serve.


To utilize fully the physical and scholarly resources of Gunston Hall to stimulate continuing public exploration of democratic ideals as first presented by George Mason in the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights.


1.       Integrity                                                5.    Creativity
2.       Accessibility                                         6.    Collaboration
3.       Authenticity                                          7.    Initiative
4.       Service                                                 8.    Leadership


1.       We will facilitate a dynamic learning environment.
2.       We will keep George Mason and his work central to our programs.
3.       We will focus on service and the guest experience in all our on-site, off-site and digital
4.       We will facilitate experiences based on scholarship, that are physically and intellectually
          accessible, and that are inclusive.
5.       We will encourage learning, reflection, dialogue, engagement, and enjoyment.
6.       We will seek collaborations and partnerships.
7.       We will demonstrate a commitment to operational and environmental sustainability.


  1. To establish Gunston Hall as a national and international resource for the study and interpretation of the Virginia Declaration of Rights as a document of enduring international significance and the pivotal role of George Mason as its author.
  2. To create a dynamic mix of authentic educational experiences providing value, impact, and benefit to a diverse audience.
  3. To establish a structure of governance which meets the intent of the Deed of Gift, through collaboration between the Board of Regents of Gunston Hall, Inc., a private non-profit corporation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  4. To sustain an acclaimed reputation for Gunston Hall, capture the hearts and minds of our stakeholders, and effectively promote and share what we are uniquely able to provide to those we serve.
  5. To enhance operational, strategic, and financial sustainability by utilizing the necessary knowledge and resources to be successful as an organization.
  6. To preserve in superior condition Gunston Hall, the cultural resources, and the natural ecosystems entrusted to our care; to provide an accessible, comfortable, sustainable, and safe environment for all our stakeholders; and to facilitate a gateway experience for our guests through our management of this unique site that enriches all who visit.
  7. To facilitate authentic, accessible, research and collections based experiences for our guests which will maximize opportunities associated with the distinctive cultural resources of Gunston Hall.

As we hope you can discern from the Plan itself, Gunston Hall is passionately committed to education, collaboration, community, stewardship, reputation, and sustainability.  These foundational concepts are incorporated into the Plan in myriad ways. Equally important, we are committed to benchmarks, measurements, metrics, evaluation, and a process of collective review which will assess our public impact and value as determined by you, our guests, members, and friends.  As such, much in the same way the development of the Plan relied upon a host of perspectives and voices, the success of our Plan will also rely on how well we meet the needs of our public.

In many ways, therefore, this is not our Plan, this is OUR plan, inclusive of all those associated with Gunston Hall or who have a stake in our work.  This Plan, OUR Plan, is not a static bound document for periodic internal use, it is a public statement of aspirations and values and ideas that we hope and expect to evolve based on our collective and shared effort to fulfill our vision and mission. This Plan, OUR Plan, is also not an expression of hope, it is an expression of belief—belief in Gunston Hall, belief in the lasting relevance and importance of George Mason and his writings, belief in the importance of historic sites as places for dialogue, learning, inspiration, and action, and belief in our ability to positively and proactively provide something critically important and of value to those we serve.

In conclusion, George Mason is often referred to as the “forgotten founder.”  As we embark on this new beginning, guided by OUR Plan, we will ensure Mason is no longer “forgotten,” but we will also ensure all of you, those who are involved at the founding of this new beginning and those of you who, through your time, effort, and financial support ensured the sustainability and continuing vitality of Gunston Hall from its first founding, are also not forgotten.


Scott Muir Stroh III
Executive Director
November 6, 2013

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