Former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton has been named the interim president of George Mason University, effective Aug. 1.

Holton, who is not seeking the job permanently, succeeds Angel Cabrera, who is leaving George Mason to become president of Georgia Tech, effective Sept. 1.

Holton, who will be Mason’s first female president, is the daughter of former Gov. Linwood Holton, who in 1972 signed the measure that made George Mason independent of the University of Virginia. She is married to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., another former Virginia governor.

“George Mason University is a special place for me and my family, and I look forward to serving the institution during this interim period,” Holton said in a statement.

“The university has made tremendous strides for such a young institution, and it’s my privilege to continue that momentum and ensure a smooth transition to the next president.”

Holton has been a visiting professor at George Mason since 2017.

The school has more than 37,000 students on campuses in Fairfax, Arlington and Manassas and in Songdo, South Korea.

George Mason’s rector, former Rep. Tom Davis, R-11th, said of Holton: “Her knowledge of state government and her leadership in statewide higher education, where she was instrumental in bolstering the commonwealth’s talent pipeline, will be particularly useful as Mason strives to grow programs to meet the talent and innovation opportunities generated by Amazon’s arrival in Northern Virginia.”

George Mason plans to raise $125 million to match state funding for a pair of projects to create the Institute for Digital Innovation at its Arlington campus and to launch a School of Computing that will serve graduate and undergraduate studies in the field.

Holton was a legal aid lawyer and a juvenile court judge before she became Virginia’s first lady in 2006. She served as then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s secretary of education from January 2014 until July 2016, when she stepped down after Kaine became Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

McAuliffe named Holton to a four-year term on the state Board of Education in 2017. Barring any legal impediment, she plans to remain on the Board of Education while in the interim post as George Mason’s president, said GMU spokesman Mike Sandler.

Holton will continue to recuse herself on any matters dealing with GMU, as she has while serving as a visiting professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government and the College of Education and Human Development.

Kaine tweeted Thursday: “Endlessly proud to be married to @AnneHolton! Throughout Anne’s career, she has always put youth and families first.”

acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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