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Introducing New Dean & Director of VIMS

Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on June 28, 2021. - Ed.

Dear William & Mary faculty, staff and students,

Today, I write with exciting news regarding our search for a new dean and director for Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Starting on Sept. 1, 2021, William & Mary will welcome Dr. Derek Aday as the new dean of VIMS. 

Dr. Aday is a well-known ecologist currently leading the applied ecology department at North Carolina State University. He is also director of the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, a fellow of the American Fisheries Society and editor-in-chief of the society’s flagship journal. More information on Derek’s impressive background can be found in our press release.

Derek Aday promises to advance VIMS’ most critical mission objectives and to offer us even more. He understands deeply the field of marine sciences, its people and funding landscape; has held multiple leadership positions; has strategic planning experience and has directed academic programs. He has advanced under-represented researchers in the field of marine sciences, through HBCU partnerships and other efforts. As a department chair at NCSU, he helped develop training programs for more effective mentoring of under-represented students, and a new peer-to-peer network for incoming graduate students.

Dr. Aday was previously the assistant dean for academic programs at NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2013-2017), associate professor of applied ecology (2010-2015) and assistant professor of biology (2005-2010) at NCSU, and assistant professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology (2002-2005) at Ohio State. He completed his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2002 at the University of Illinois.

As many of you know, the dean and director of VIMS manages the operations of more than 400 students, faculty and staff members in four academic departments across three campuses (in addition to work across the globe), with a budget of more than $52 million. VIMS is also unusual in its legislated role of providing advisory services to the Commonwealth, its citizens and industries.

For the better part of a year, a team of 15 individuals, led by Glucksman Professor of Marine Science Carl Friedrichs and assisted by executive search firm Isaacson Miller, collaborated to find the best candidate for this position. I extend sincere thanks to everyone involved in this extensive, nationwide search process.

I also express gratitude for the outstanding leadership of Dean John T. Wells, who has been pivotal in securing VIMS’ enviable and important position. Dean Wells’s 17 years at William & Mary have resulted in major progress for our Chesapeake Bay, VIMS’ financial future and the overall education provided at VIMS. We look forward to building on the invaluable progress Dean Wells has made.

Dr. Aday will be joined in Williamsburg by his wife, Erica, and his daughter, Caitlyn. His son, Conor, is attending college. Derek Aday’s father, David Aday Jr., is professor emeritus of sociology and a distinguished member of the W&M community.

I am extremely excited to welcome Derek Aday and his family to ours at William & Mary. 


Peggy Agouris
Provost, William & Mary