Frequently Asked Questions

After nearly a decade as the 27th president of William & Mary, Taylor Reveley announced plans in April 2017 to retire effective June 30, 2018.

Following a comprehensive national search over the past 10 months, the William & Mary Board of Visitors on Feb. 20, 2018, unanimously selected Dr. Katherine A. Rowe, currently provost of Smith College and a leader in digital innovation of the liberal arts, to be the university's 28th president. Please see the full press release and video package.

Why was Katherine Rowe selected?

During the process, the committee got to know Dr. Rowe very well. They learned she is a passionate and articulate advocate for the importance of the liberal arts and their intersections with technology and research. She believes a liberal arts education is precisely what students need to be life-long learners and critical thinkers in a multi-disciplinary, data-informed and rapidly changing economy and world.

Dr. Rowe is a widely respected and recognized leader, teacher, researcher and scholar, and she is a pioneer in finding new ways to use technology to teach more effectively. She is deeply interested in design thinking, entrepreneurship and the digital humanities, and has become a national leader in digital innovation.

In addition, Dr. Rowe believes that diversity accelerates innovation and has a long track record promoting inclusion for under-represented students, staff and faculty. As a professor, administrator and now provost, Dr. Rowe is an engaged listener who excels at connecting with students, colleagues and alumni. She is well-known as a player and now championship coach of United States Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate is a self-refereed team sport governed by the Spirit of the Game, the joy of play and a mutual respect for fellow players. It's how she leads.

Dr. Rowe is someone who appreciates and respects William & Mary's history and traditions. She also understands why change, transformation and vision for the future are essential to the university's continued excellence.

When will she start?

Dr. Katherine Rowe will become President on July 1, 2018.

How was she selected?

William & Mary Rector Todd A. Stottlemyer '85 appointed a 19-person presidential search committee to lead the national search for Reveley's successor and to send up to three candidates to the Board of Visitors for consideration. The search committee was led by Vice Rector H. Thomas Watkins III '74 and was made up of representatives from across the university community. It included Board members that have held many leadership positions across campus as well as faculty and staff members, a recent graduate and a current student leader.

As part of the process, committee members hosted more than 150 listening sessions throughout the country, involving nearly 1,600 people. Hundreds of emails and submissions were also received via the presidential search website. The feedback was critical in helping the committee to narrow the candidates down to finalists to recommend to the Board. The committee considered nearly 300 nominations and almost 100 applications before narrowing the group to 12 semi-finalists and three finalists.

Witt/Kieffer search consultants were also retained to assist the committee.

Who was on the search committee?

The search committee included faculty, staff, students and alumni. See a full roster and bios of committee members.

What was the search committee looking for in a candidate?

After conducting more than 150 listening sessions throughout the country involving nearly 1,600 people, the committee focused its search around five critical areas: leadership, management, fundraising and financial management, innovation, diversity and inclusion.

What are Katherine Rowe's credentials?

Since 2014, Dr. Rowe has served as provost and dean of the faculty at Smith College in Massachusetts. Her areas of research and scholarship include Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, medieval and Renaissance drama and media history.

As provost, Dr. Rowe worked closely with the president, cabinet and trustees on a wide array of strategic priorities. During her tenure, the college transformed its liberal arts curriculum, greatly increased diversity in faculty hiring, launched one of the first statistical and data sciences majors at a liberal arts college and broke national fundraising records for women’s colleges. She also served as Smith's interim vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity.

Dr. Rowe was the academic lead at Smith College for the $100 million signature capital project redesigning the main library. She successfully partnered with outside organizations and philanthropic donors to fund initiatives in statistical and data sciences and design thinking.

Prior to her time at Smith, Dr. Rowe spent 16 years at Bryn Mawr College as an English professor and department chair, coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center for leadership and public engagement.

Dr. Rowe also directed two collaborative programs with Haverford and Swarthmore, Tri-Co Digital Humanities and the Mellon Tri-College Faculty Forum. Before that, she was assistant professor of English at Yale.

Where did she receive her education?

Dr. Rowe earned a bachelor's degree in English and American literature from Carleton College and a master's and a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard. She has also completed graduate work in Cinema and Media Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

What has she done outside of academia?

Dr. Rowe is co-founder and CEO of Luminary Digital Media, which has launched a series of apps for iPad with the Folger Shakespeare Library that revolutionize how students learn Shakespeare. She was also guest-editor for what is believed to be the first major humanities journal to experiment with open peer review, when the Shakespeare Quarterly crowd-sourced reviews in 2010.

What has she published?

Dr. Rowe has published three books: New Wave Shakespeare on Screen with Thomas Cartelli (Polity Press, 2007), Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion as editor (Penn Press, 2004) and Dead Hands: Fictions of Agency, Renaissance to Modern (Stanford, 2000). She also has editing credits in the Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare and introduced G.B. Evans' The Tragedy of Macbeth. In addition, Rowe has written dozens of scholarly papers and been an invited lecturer at universities, symposia and colloquia across the country. Her speaking appearances include the New York Shakespeare Society and the Library of Congress.

What about awards and honors?

Dr. Rowe was also recognized in 2016 by the Library Journal for outstanding print reference work for the Cambridge Guide as well as the American Library Association's outstanding academic title. In addition, The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, with more than 350 scholarly contributors from five continents, was honored in 2016 by the American Association of Publishers with two PROSE awards, considered the most prestigious in the publishing industry, for excellence in reference works and multi-volume reference in the humanities and social sciences.

Is she the first woman to be president of W&M?

Yes, Dr. Rowe will be the first woman in the university's 325-year history to hold the position.

What about family?

Dr. Rowe is married to Bruce Jacobson. They have two adult children, Daniel and Beah.

What hobbies does she have?

Dr. Rowe has spent more than a decade coaching Ultimate Frisbee, taking her team to state championships in Pennsylvania for a number of years. She was a World Ultimate Club Finalist and a Women's Nationals Finalist. She also co-founded the nonprofit Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance and the Carleton College women's Ultimate team.