A birdhouse for the Chancellor

Custom-built

Custom-built:  Murray Scholars Program Director Dan Cristol presents a special-edition birdhouse to College Chancellor Sandra Day O'Connor. Watching from the couch are, from left, Murray Scholars Isabelle Cohen '12 and Jennifer MacLure '11.

It’s probably the world’s only birdhouse with the scales of justice on one side and the William and Mary cipher on the other.

Dan Cristol presented the special-edition birdhouse to William and Mary Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired U.S. Supreme Court justice, at a February, 2008 lunch with the College’s Murray Scholars. Cristol is the director of the Murray Scholars program and an associate professor in William and Mary’s Department of Biology. Some of the Murray Scholars helped to build the chancellor’s birdhouse with Tom Meier of the biology department workshop, who makes hundreds of bird boxes each year for research conducted in the department.

“We just wanted to present the Chancellor with a token of our esteem,” Cristol said. “We knew she enjoyed bird watching. She said she will put it up in her yard in Arizona.”

Murray Scholars are selected on a competitive basis from the nation’s top high school seniors. Admitted based on merit, Murray Scholars receive four years of in-state tuition, room and board. Participants also receive other benefits such as intense academic advising, stipends for research and special benefits such as the opportunity to have lunch with Chancellor O’Connor. The Murray Scholars program is sponsored by donations from Jim and Bruce Murray.

Cristol, an ornithologist, said Chancellor O’Connor’s new birdhouse will likely attract wrens or swallows back in Arizona, but doesn’t rule out a western bluebird. The Murray Scholars lunch was part of William and Mary’s 2008 observance of Charter Day, marking the 315th anniversary of the granting of the royal charter establishing the College by King William III and Queen Mary II of Great Britain.   i