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William & Mary goes all in on the ampersand

by William & Mary Staff | April 1, 2019

Ampersand wall

Out with the “and,” in with the &

Inspired by For the Bold, William & Mary’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, President Katherine A. Rowe has announced the university’s boldest plan yet: to fully commit to the ampersand as the official replacement for the word “and” for all time coming. When For the Bold comes to an end in 2020, the goal is to not only reach $1 billion dollars, but to also reach one billion ampersands, Rowe said.

“When you have the 27th letter of the alphabet at your disposal – & it happens to be central to your name – you need to be bold & go long,” Rowe said. “As a Renaissance scholar, I also see the great value in embracing this traditional typography. Let’s not just prepare our students to succeed in a “both-&” world, let’s prepare them for the “&-&” world.”

Phase one in the initiative kicked off on April 1st by converting instances of “and” on the university’s website to an & — the effort helps to reinforce the W&M brand by showcasing the importance of the ampersand to visitors from around the world who come to the website to learn more about the university.

Launching later this year, Phase 2 will include the renaming of all departments, offices & campus buildings to ensure that an & is used in place of "and," anywhere & everywhere on campus. Faculty & students will also be involved in the campus-wide initiative, & will be required to adopt the new style on all presentations, exams & papers.

Jack Martin, president of the W&M Faculty Assembly & director of the university’s linguistics program, said faculty leaders are exploring more uses for the &.

“The Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly has appointed an ad hoc Communications & Cetera committee to study the use of the ampersand in the Faculty Handbook, now the Faculty H&book, Martin said. “Currently the committee is discussing the legal implications of using the Oxford comma before an ampersand (as in Lions, tigers, & bears, oh my!). We hope to adopt a revised version in the coming weeks & take it to the Board of Visitors in late April.”

Taking President Rowe’s lead, Student Assembly President Brendan Boylan ’19 said he planned to champion all ampersand-related causes, including requesting more food pairings in the dining halls such as PB&Js, Mac & Cheese, Chicken & Waffles & M&Ms. He also plans to pitch faculty on a new COLL 001 course called “Ampersand etiquette for incoming students.”

“I initially preferred the “and” when I first arrived at William & Mary but I eventually learned the true power of connection that is represented by the ampersand,” Boylan said. “I hope others can learn from me. As I say now, the more ampersands the better.”

William & Mary has been a longtime advocate for the use of the ampersand, which over the course of history has been in & out of classroom instruction as the 27th letter of the alphabet. Former President Taylor Reveley took up the cause during his decade as the university’s 27th president & emitted a campus plea for the William & Mary community to always use the ampersand as part of its name.

Several years ago, William & Mary formally replaced the word “and” with the & in its official branding, & since then the community has only grown to love the symbol more. Not only is it the central symbol in the university’s name, but it’s also used to celebrate the pairings that make W&M unique: Alma Mater of the Nation & Citizen of the world, Dedicated to teaching & Devoted to research & so much more.

Reveley said he was delighted to hear Rowe has picked up the baton, & taken William & Mary’s ampersand to a whole new level.

“All hail the ampersand,” exclaimed Reveley, upon hearing the news. “It had a bright moment in the sun when I inhabited the Brafferton. & now President Rowe plans to give the worthy ampersand an even more robust life at William & Mary &, indeed, to accord it new glory as the 27th letter of the alphabet. This is a bold & necessary move. Remember, the & always delivers!”