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Thinking Forward: Share your thoughts about W&M

President Katherine A. Rowe sent the following message to the William & Mary community Aug. 21, 2018. - Ed.

Dear William & Mary Community,

Later this week, the newest cohort of William & Mary students will arrive. The whole campus is poised to welcome them, as it has welcomed me so warmly this past month, and I am excited to share with them my first Move-In Day and Opening Convocation. I know how thrilled they will feel to join our traditions and how ready they are to make new memories in their turn. In the time they spend here, they are preparing to join many distinguished alumni, whose contributions have shaped this remarkable institution, our nation and the world.

Since arriving on campus, I have immersed myself in William & Mary, listening and absorbing as much as possible about our beautiful campus, the region and this dynamic community. I have begun a sustained process of reflecting on our present and thinking into our future, together with the diverse faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni and friends who sustain this community of learning, research and service.

This phase of strategic listening and synthesis will span much of my first year. To hear from William & Mary in its entirety will mean being in motion every day, all day, so as to reach every part of our community — on campus and around the world — and hear the fullness of your different experiences of William & Mary. Every communication — formal or informal — is an opportunity for me and for us all to listen carefully, reflect critically and innovate creatively.

With this in mind, I invite students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of William & Mary to join me in exploring three key themes that have emerged in my early conversations. Durable transformation happens when we sustain and strengthen our mission. Taking a long view of our core commitments, therefore: what will be the future of knowledge, the future of work and the future of service, over the coming 10-20 years?

The Future of Knowledge
Our mission is simple: to bring exceptional faculty together with the most talented students to advance learning and discovery. Across our disciplines, practices of teaching, learning and research are evolving. How will students learn and faculty teach across the spectrum of fields, and how will that change in the coming decades? How will scholars and artists share what they discover and create? How will we position William & Mary as the place to go for creative solutions to new and enduring problems?

The Future of Work
We deliver on our educational mission by advancing knowledge and preparing our graduates to thrive in a rapidly changing world. How will we take advantage of the vibrant diversity of the commonwealth and country, reflecting that diversity in our students, faculty and staff? On campus, how will we transform our workflows, business processes and work culture to create an environment where all our employees can bring their fullest selves to accomplish their best work? Beyond campus, how are workplaces changing, and what professional and human capacities will be essential for William & Mary graduates to thrive in the 21st century? How will we serve our alumni as they pioneer new roles in an ever-changing career landscape?

The Future of Service
More than any other university, William & Mary has done much to shape the character of our nation. Service to one another, our communities, our country and the world is our institutional heritage. How can William & Mary best prepare our students for lives of “principled achievement,” as one of our deans likes to say? How can we prepare our graduates to strengthen their communities and nation — to be the ones others seek out for collaboration, partnership and problem-solving?

These are critical questions around which to chart our course in the coming years. The more broadly we involve our entire community in exploring them, the stronger and more substantive our answers will be. By expanding our horizons to think 10, 15, even 20 years ahead, we can use this process of exploration to renew and reaffirm what we most value. Together, we will engage what we know to transform our work and strengthen our commitments to service — ensuring that William & Mary continues to be known widely as an institution that convenes great minds for the common good.

A website,, will serve as a central hub for:

  • Direct comments
  • Campus forums in the coming months
  • Social media events and comments via the hashtag #wmForward

William & Mary is a university of unrivaled history, growing momentum in the present and vast potential for the future. Serving this community as its 28th president is an extraordinary honor and I welcome the opportunity to hear your voice as we think forward together.


Katherine A. Rowe
President, William & Mary