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George Mason Renames Building for ‘Hidden Figures’ Mathematician

The largest building on the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., has been renamed in honor of former NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, an African-American woman who overcame sexism and racism to help lead the United States into a new era of space exploration.

Katherine JohnsonKatherine Johnson

The renaming was celebrated at a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning in the Verizon Auditorium in Colgan Hall. Katherine G. Johnson Hall is the new name for the former Bull Run Hall

Johnson, whose trailblazing achievements were highlighted in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures,” worked at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., for 33 years. She performed the complex calculations and flight-path analysis for U.S. spacecraft in the early years of the space program, including for the Apollo 11 flight to the moon in 1969.

GMU said the school also will create a scholarship in Johnson’s name.

Meanwhile, the renamed hall “will be a powerful symbol of what can be achieved, no matter the obstacles, when students of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to succeed,” said GMU president Ángel Cabrera, who spoke at the dedication ceremony. “Katherine Johnson represents the idea of striving to fulfill one’s full potential. Her name on this building, and her remarkable story, will inspire future generations of scientists and engineers.”

Johnson, 100, has NASA facilities named in her honor and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from President Obama. A West Virginia native, she attended what is now West Virginia State University and graduated summa cum laude with degrees in math and French at the age of 18.

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