I write about an issue of mutual interest. Some 16 years ago, William & Mary applied to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) to have a 14,134-foot geographic feature in Lake County, Colorado, named “Mount William & Mary.” Although the Lake County Board of Commissioners and others in Colorado and beyond supported the 1998 proposal, the USBGN agreed with a suggestion from the Colorado Board on Geographic Names that there was an insufficient relationship between William & Mary, on the one hand, and Lake County itself and the state of Colorado, on the other.
The College remains very interested in having a Mount William & Mary in Lake County, Colorado. We feel a meaningful relationship does exist between our university and Colorado (Lake County in particular). For this reason, we would love for you to join us in this effort by writing a letter of support to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. For your convenience, the bottom of this letter includes the proper contact information.
Let me explain why this is important.
Two of William & Mary’s most illustrious alumni -- Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe -- conceived of the Louisiana Purchase and then persuaded Napoleon to sell the vast territory subsumed in the purchase to the fledgling United States in 1803. This purchase, did, of course, include all of Lake County and most of Colorado.
In addition, Leadville and Lake County are the site of numerous high-altitude research projects conducted by our faculty.
William & Mary also has a stellar, enthusiastic and rapidly growing body of alumni in Colorado.
It is significant, too, that Colorado has many mountains named after academic institutions with campuses outside the state. We believe it would be very appropriate for William & Mary to be among them.
Just as William & Mary would be honored to have a place named for it in Lake County and Colorado, so the county and state would benefit by association with William & Mary. It is the second-oldest institution of higher education in North America, created on February 8, 1693, in London, England, by a royal charter signed by King William and Queen Mary. The College promptly got underway in Virginia and is now a research university, with one of the best undergraduate programs in the country and a powerful commitment to the liberal arts.
William & Mary has had close ties to four United States presidents, three of whom were our undergraduates (Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler) and a fourth, George Washington received his surveyor’s license from William & Mary, and was its first American chancellor after the Revolutionary War, a post he held for 11 years, until his death.
The chancellor of William & Mary is the honorary head of the university, in the British tradition. In recent years, we’ve had an extraordinary run of chancellors: Warren Burger, former chief justice of the United States; Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom; Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court; and now William & Mary alumnus Robert Gates, former U.S. secretary of defense. These days, our chancellors serve seven-year terms and participate vibrantly in the life of the university.
William & Mary does have a robust tradition of educating leaders for all walks of life, but especially public service. At the federal level right now, our graduates serve as heads of the FBI, the SEC, and the National Park Service. An alumna is the chief scientist of NASA.
If the spirit so moves you, a letter from you to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names urging favorable action on Mount William & Mary would help. This is especially so if you’re a citizen of Colorado. Your letter should go by March 1, 2015, to:
Mr. Lou Yost
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 523
Reston, Virginia 20192-0523
Phone: (703) 648-4552
FAX: (703) 648-4549
Attached to an email or as text in an email to Lou Yost at BGNEXEC@usgs.gov
Formal letters of support from Colorado residents for naming Mount William & Mary are held in highest regard by the USBGN. If a personal letter is not an option, your signature and address on an email petition will be greatly appreciated. There also is an online petition.
W&M Professor Ken Kambis has been the inspiration for Mount William & Mary and he remains the motive force behind our renewed effort on this front. Ken will keep us informed about how we are faring.
W. Taylor Reveley, III