William & Mary

Rector's message on W&M's 28th president

Rector Todd A. Stottlemyer ‘85 sent the following message to the W&M community Feb. 20, 2018 - Ed.

Dear William & Mary Community,

It is my great privilege to name Dr. Katherine Anandi Rowe as William & Mary’s 28th president.

A widely respected and recognized leader, teacher, researcher, scholar and entrepreneur, Katherine is the unanimous choice of the Board of Visitors as the ideal person to lead the Alma Mater of the Nation. She officially begins her appointment on July 1.

Katherine is a passionate and articulate advocate for the importance of the liberal arts and the critical intersections with technology and research. She is deeply interested in design thinking, entrepreneurship and the digital humanities. Katherine is a national leader who pioneered the use of 21st century innovation to build a virtual bridge to 17th century literature. As the co-founder and CEO of Luminary Digital Media, she has reimagined books with interactive reading apps that transform and enhance student engagement and learning of classic Shakespearean texts.

Katherine is currently serving as provost, dean of the faculty and the Sophia Smith Professor of English Language & Literature at Smith College in Massachusetts. She also served as interim vice president for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity with a focus on campus engagement and inclusion.  You can learn more about Katherine’s impressive background and robust experience at www.wm.edu/presidentelect.

During Katherine’s tenure as provost, Smith transformed its liberal arts curriculum, greatly increased diversity in faculty hiring and launched the first Statistical and Data Sciences major at a U.S. women’s college. She was also part of the leadership team that broke national fundraising records for women’s colleges.

Prior to her time at Smith, Katherine spent 16 years at Bryn Mawr College as an English professor and department chair and the director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. She directed two collaborative programs with Haverford and Swarthmore, Tri-Co Digital Humanities and the Mellon Tri-College Faculty Forum. She was assistant professor of English at Yale prior to joining Bryn Mawr.

Katherine 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 University.

Katherine has also participated for decades as a player and now coach in United States Ultimate Frisbee. The joy of play and a mutual respect for fellow players are hallmarks of Katherine’s approachable and collaborative style of leadership. During her decade of coaching, she has taken multiple high school teams to state championships. As a player of this self-refereed team sport, she played for teams that were World Ultimate Club Finalists and Women’s Nationals Finalists.

Katherine’s selection by the Board of Visitors today is the culmination of a comprehensive, nationwide search conducted by the 19-member Presidential Search Committee, with Chancellor Robert Gates as its advisor. I deeply appreciate the search committee’s dedication and selfless service to William & Mary. I want to particularly recognize and thank Vice Rector Tom Watkins for his leadership of the committee. Among the Presidential Search Committee’s many activities during their 10-month journey, they tirelessly participated in more than 150 listening sessions involving nearly 1,600 people; initiated public outreach; reviewed hundreds of comments, emails and posts to the presidential website; created a position description and conducted interviews. Today’s wonderful outcome is the result of their extensive efforts, the vigor with which they fulfilled their charge and the outpouring of feedback and input they received from students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of William & Mary who helped define the future of our great university. There is no doubt that the successful completion of the search committee’s work was only possible with the participation of the entire William & Mary community.

The Presidential Search Committee had a difficult mission: to find a leader to whom Taylor Reveley could pass the reins. Taylor has devotedly and unwaveringly led William & Mary through a decade-long tenure, strengthening every facet of the university along the way. He has firmly set the university on sure footing that truly positions the 28th president for future success.

As we look to the future, this is a critically important time in William & Mary’s history. There are many challenges for higher education. There are also enormous opportunities. As Chancellor Gates told the Presidential Search Committee early in the search process, William & Mary’s deep history and importance to our nation demand that we be a leader in the national discussion about higher education, the preparation of our future workforce and the importance of developing outstanding citizen leaders. With Dr. Rowe, I am confident we have found a leader who will help us achieve this shared vision of historical pre-eminence and contemporary excellence.

At 10 a.m., we will begin Katherine’s introduction to the William & Mary community. We invite you to watch the livestream of that event at www.wm.edu/presidentelect/watch.

We also invite the entire William & Mary community to join us at 4 p.m. today in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium to officially welcome Katherine, her spouse Bruce Jacobson, and their two adult children, Beah and Daniel, to the William & Mary family. I hope you will attend.

Harking back to the 17th century is well-trodden ground for Katherine. We are thrilled that she has answered William & Mary’s call to serve as its next president and look forward to embarking together on the next great chapter of this university’s history under her leadership.


Todd A. Stottlemyer ‘85


William & Mary