McLaughlin: Fusion of graduate and undergraduate experiences

  • Virginia McLaughlinThe dean of the School of Education believes William & Mary's graduate/undergraduate mix benefits the academic experience for all.

    Virginia McLaughlin

Virginia McLaughlin believes William and Mary is uniquely representative of a school that is large enough for excellence and small enough for community.

Although it “looks a lot like the premier liberal-arts colleges,” she said, William & Mary’s efforts at being a research-intensive university bring a level of talent, resources and “intensity” that translate into an undergraduate experience rivaled by few of its peers.

As dean of the School of Education at the College, McLaughlin has extensive experience balancing the school’s graduate aspirations with the added-value benefits they can bring to undergraduates. Her experience, she said, is reflected across the university.

“There’s not as much tension as one might think between the research and the teaching mission,” McLaughlin said. “I think it’s well exemplified in our strong professional and graduate programs. Whether it’s the ph.D. programs in arts and sciences, or law, business and education, they naturally extend and build upon the arts and sciences in terms of content and the habits of mind that we expect.”

McLaughlin recently spoke about the future of the School of Education, as well as that of the university at large, during a W&M News video session focusing on the College’s new strategic plan.

Concerning the appropriate size for the university, she said, “We don’t know the magic number, … but we want [William & Mary] to be a community where you’ve never met everybody, where you’ve never exhausted the opportunities, where there is always much more beckoning.” At the same time, McLaughlin said, university administrators value the “network of community” that forms among “peers, ” “students” and “faculty members” as they interact in a climate of “acceptance” and “familiarity” that eludes universities that grow to a larger scale.

As the video session concluded, McLaughlin looked ahead toward the opening of the School of Education building next year on the site of the former Sentara Hospital on Monticello Ave., calling it the “opportunity of a lifetime.” Projected move-in coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the School of Education.

“We will have a yearlong celebration of our new facility and all the opportunities that brings together with looking back at all the accomplishments of 50 years and looking ahead toward the leadership role the school intends to take on,” she said.