2020 News Stories

A student sits on a bench surrounded by fall foliage
W&M releases updates on Fall 2020 Path Forward

William & Mary recently released a series of updates about its plans for the fall semester. The updates contain new details about remote learning and work, physical distancing and safety measures, fall course offerings and planned use of space on campus.

An instrument takes reading from a pan of stir fry
Quarantine and the chemistry of the great indoors

As COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders upended life as we know it, W&M chemist Rachel O’Brien turned her kitchen into a makeshift laboratory. She and her lab students literally cooked up experiments in their homes by measuring aerosols released during cooking.

A portrait photo of Terri Watson
Wilderness leader: Alumna relies on small teams to achieve big goals

As the first woman to become president of the National Outdoor Leadership School, Terri Watson ’85 brings nearly three decades of experience in corporate and nonprofit roles to an organization that enrolls more than 25,000 students annually in programs around the world.

Jason Chen
JEDI Alliance: Building a coalition to advance equity, diversity in the geosciences

Jason Chen, Gerdelman Family Term Distinguished Associate Professor at the William & Mary School of Education, has secured a new grant from the National Science Foundation that aims to combat inequity by building a national alliance of researchers working together to effect large-scale change.

Shannon White
Creativity, serendipity enhance CGA's pivot to online classes

Faculty with William & Mary’s Center for Geospatial Analysis instill graduate and undergraduate students with the skills and understanding to use mapping and visualization techniques in projects ranging from art history to field biology.

Student wearing mask gives thumbs up
Social distancing at the outcrop: Separate cars, PPE and maybe snorkeling

William & Mary's geology department is going ahead with field work this summer, heading to their outcrops and fossil beds armed with more than their rock hammers. Faculty mentors have come up with an evolving set of creative ways to maintain social distance.

Moesha Parsons in cap and gown
Recent grad leaves legacy for Minorities in Medicine

As a student, Moesha Parsons ’20 founded Minorities in Medicine, a student organization for pre-med students of color. Though she has graduated, the organization will continue to support future students like her.

Sam Hayes
Hayes to lead, assess facilities management at W&M

Samuel Hayes III, a professional engineer and management consultant, has been selected to lead William & Mary’s facilities management department as interim chief facilities officer beginning July 1.

Robert Knoeppel
Robert C. Knoeppel to lead W&M’s School of Education

Robert C. Knoeppel, dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Education, longtime educator and noted scholar on educational finance innovation, has been chosen as the next dean of William & Mary’s School of Education.

Megan Casey stands dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment
Alumna uses experience combating Ebola to fight COVID-19

As an officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Megan L. Casey ’04 evaluated hospital and clinic infection control practices in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Now she's taking her expertise stateside.

Photo of Amy Sebring
A coronavirus Q&A with Amy Sebring, VP for finance and technology

William & Mary News spoke remotely with Amy Sebring, vice president for finance & technology, to talk about how the university is confronting the financial challenges presented by COVID-19, and what to expect in the coming months.

Tess Ellis talks to a field hockey player on the field
Coach of the Year: CAA, ECAC honor seven leaders in W&M Athletics

For the 2019-20 athletic season, which ended prematurely on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak, W&M had five of its mentors named Coach of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Association. Two more were honored by the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

W&M's Raymond A. Mason School of Business on a sunny day
Boël gift expands Mason School international business initiatives

The Nicolas and Valentine Boël Endowment for International Business will enable Dean Larry Pulley to invest strategically in programs that cultivate a global mindset among undergraduate and graduate students.

Heather Kenny places a band on a bluebird
In a quiet world, research on noise and nesting bluebirds

Heather Kenny, a biology master’s student at William & Mary, has spent the past two years studying the parenting behavior of bluebirds. Specifically, she is working to understand how human-made noise influences nesting and productivity.

Arianna Afsari head shot
Seven W&M alumni selected to receive Fulbright Scholarships

The seven alumni are among more than 2,100 U.S. citizens who received the Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in 2020. The prestigious award provides students the funding they need to study, research and teach abroad.

Ben Spencer
A. Benjamin Spencer selected to lead W&M Law School

A. Benjamin Spencer, a nationally renowned civil procedure and federal courts expert and current professor of law at the University of Virginia will begin at William & Mary Law School July 1.

Patricia “Patti” Jarboe Dwyer
Honorary alumna: Patti Dwyer joins the W&M alumni family

Patricia “Patti” Jarboe Dwyer has been nominated by her peers and selected by the W&M Alumni Association Board of Directors to be inducted as an honorary alumna.

John Littel
William & Mary board re-elects top two executive officers

William & Mary’s Board of Visitors voted Tuesday to re-elect John E. Littel P '22 as rector and William H. Payne II '01 as vice rector of the governing body of the university. Additionally, Barbara L. Johnson J.D. '84 was elected as secretary of the board.

A file photo of shops in Yorktown, Virginia
Help and hope for Virginia’s small businesses

To help Virginia’s small businesses during the pandemic, Pete Snyder ’94 and his wife Burson Snyder created the nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund.

The Wren building seen from above with students
W&M to celebrate 2020 graduates with virtual conferral ceremony

On May 16, William & Mary will mark the day that was previously reserved for this year’s Commencement exercises with its first-ever virtual conferral ceremony. The university plans to celebrate 2020 graduates in-person in the fall.

Closeup of sundial at Swem Library.
W&M announces SAT, ACT test-optional admission pilot

William & Mary will make standardized test scores optional for undergraduate applicants in the 2020-2021 admission cycle under a new three-year pilot program that responds immediately to difficulties high school students are facing in scheduling the standardized tests.

EdoReps students carrying items on freshman move-in day
W&M announces 2020 spring Green Fee projects

The William & Mary Committee on Sustainability has announced the spring 2020 Green Fee awards, which will be awarded to seven campus projects.

Earth week illustration with hand holding a plant
W&M, other universities collaborate on virtual Earth Week

The William & Mary community celebrated Earth Week virtually this spring, working with other Virginia universities to offer events accessible to the public through multiple online platforms.

Photo of the Trisuli River
Study shows wetter climate is likely to intensify global warming

Greater tropical rainfall may increase microbes’ release of CO2 from soils into air, according to a study conducted by an international team led by Dr. Christopher Hein of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The USNS Comfort
W&M alumnus on a mission of Comfort

Having completed a month-long mission of helping New York City hospitals that were overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, the USNS Comfort has sailed back to Virginia with about 600 doctors, nurses and other crew members, including Dr. A. Scott Morris ’10, a lieutenant in the Navy’s Medical Corps and an alumnus of William & Mary.

exterior of cohen career center
W&M takes a ‘one team’ approach to career development

At a time when more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, William & Mary’s career development leaders are collaborating to share information and leverage resources across different departments and schools.

A person holds a box full of vegetables
Millions of meals: Alumnus-led food bank meets dire need

In his 20 years as president and CEO of the L.A. Regional Food Bank, Michael Flood '84 has seen earthquakes, wildfires and flooding. But nothing that compares to a global pandemic.

counseling_square.jpeg
Counseling programs help those in need, on and off campus

A new gift to W&M will support graduate students working in the New Horizons Family Counseling Center, which assists families of students in local public schools who are facing difficult times, and the New Leaf Clinic, which provides counseling to community members struggling with substance abuse.

Student reads textbook at library
Shouldering the heavy burden of textbooks

William & Mary Libraries has launched a Textbook Affordability Initiative on campus to address the rising costs of textbooks.

Mary Pelson
W&M students write home to local senior citizens

William & Mary students left campus to return to their homes because of COVID-19, but many of them have found a way to reach back and connect to the place they also consider home.

Dr. Jennifer Primeggia in uniform
On the front lines: A physician’s view of the pandemic

In early February, while most Americans were still going about their usual daily routines, Dr. Jennifer Primeggia ’02 and her fellow physicians working in infectious diseases at Virginia Hospital Center near Washington, D.C., were preparing for an influx of patients with COVID-19.

Barrels with trash
Study calculates true cost of food waste in America

A new study by Zach Conrad, assistant professor in William & Mary’s Department of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, finds that the average American consumer spends roughly $1,300 per year on food that ends up being wasted.

Photo of Stephanie Bevan wearing personal protective equipment or PPE
W&M gymnastics alums working on the medical front line against COVID-19

William & Mary's gymnastics program has approximately 50 of its graduates in the medical profession, many on the front line against this global pandemic. Four of them were willing to take a few minutes out of their hectic days to discuss their work and how it's changed in the last several weeks.

Portrait photograph of Eden Maness in the lab wearing a lab coat
Finding a possible new way to treat schizophrenia

For her research into the underlying neurobiology of attentional processing in the context of schizophrenia drug discovery, Eden Maness is the recipient of the William & Mary Graduate Studies Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Natural and Computational Sciences.

A great blue heron stands near a pond
Social distancing in birds

One of many things that the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for is the introduction of the term “social distancing” to the global lexicon. For bird behaviorists, the term and its variants have been in use for over a century.

Cellular image of circles and swirls
Immune-system cells of fish are ingesting plastic…and then dying

The research lab of Patty Zwollo, an immunologist and professor of biology at William & Mary, has discovered that just as whales swallow plastic thinking it’s food, some cellular components of the immune system in fish “swallow” bits of microplastic that they mistake for invading pathogens.

Group photo of AidData student researchers
AidData: Powerful lessons in global development

As a research lab of the university’s Global Research Institute, AidData facilitates innovative research projects that bring students and faculty together to solve global problems.

Woman grocery shops while wearing a face mask
Grocery shopping tips for the age of coronavirus

With panic buying affecting grocery stores throughout the country, we spoke with Zach Conrad, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, to discuss ways to food shop effectively.

Maria J. Donoghue Velleca
Maria Donoghue Velleca selected as William & Mary dean of Arts & Sciences

Maria Donoghue Velleca, an accomplished scholar and award-winning educator who served as senior associate dean for faculty affairs and strategic planning at Georgetown University’s College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as William & Mary’s dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, President Katherine A. Rowe announced today.

Eva Hodgson dribbles the basketball down the court
W&M’s Eva Hodgson: Family, faith, basketball

Following her CAA Rookie of the Year season, Eva Hodgson has made history as a sophomore as the Tribe heads into CAA tournament play March 11-14 in Elon, N.C.

Nathan Knight and Dane Fischer hug
W&M rakes in major CAA honors

For the first time in 35 years as a member, William & Mary has the Colonial Athletic Association's Player, Coach and Defensive Player of the Year.

Two cartoon characters stand on a beach
Postponed: W&M's Raft Debate

William & Mary's 2020 Raft Debate will be held in the Sadler Center's Commonwealth Auditorium March 19 at 6:30 p.m.

A series of planting pots containing Mars-like soil
How scientifically accurate is 'The Martian'? Ask W&M’s budding astrobotanists

Jon Kay, a visiting assistant professor of geology at William & Mary, is using the hypothetical situation Matt Damon’s character finds himself in — being stranded on Mars and forced to grow his own food — as a real research question for students in his new COLL 150 class Science and Science Fiction.

Mellody Hobson
Mellody Hobson to speak at W&M’s 2020 Commencement ceremony

Mellody Hobson, former chair of DreamWorks Animation and a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy, will speak at William & Mary’s 2020 Commencement ceremony, slated for 8:30 a.m. May 16 in Zable Stadium.

Jefferson Lab's experimental Hall B is full of equipment to study the strong force
In ‘Nature’: Researchers probe the space between protons and neutrons

In the first direct probes of the core of the nuclear interaction, researchers find that leading theories on interactions between protons and neutrons describe them well, even in conditions where the protons and neutrons strongly overlap, such as in neutron stars.

An artists's depiction shows a figure in the top of a pill helping another at the bottom climb up
Hope in crisis: Tackling the nation's opioid epidemic

William & Mary alumni, parents and faculty have played a role in addressing the nation’s most lethal public health crisis since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

Kelebogile Zvobgo
Discussion helps launch International Justice Lab at W&M

William & Mary students, scholars and community members gathered Jan. 31 to celebrate the launch of the International Justice Lab at the university with a roundtable discussion on “International Law and Justice: Challenges and Challengers in the 21st Century.”

Swimmers hold up a blue CAA champs sign
W&M men's swimming wins CAA championship for 6th consecutive year

The William & Mary men's swimming team won its sixth consecutive Colonial Athletic Association championship on Saturday night, doing so in record-setting fashion in a week filled with individual event records.

Plastic debris on a remote Gulf of Alaska beach
'Grand Challenge' review stresses global impact of microplastics

Professor Rob Hale of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science is lead author of a new “Grand Challenges” paper commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest association of Earth and space scientists with more than 60,000 members in 137 countries.

Closeup image of William & Mary Police Chief Deb Cheesebro
Chief Cheesebro to lead VACLEA

William & Mary Police Chief Deborah Cheesebro elected president of the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Millie West
Remembering Millie West

Millie West had a significant impact on influence on W&M athletics.

Andy Van Vliet shoots the basketball over an opposing defender
W&M post player reveling in final basketball season

After transferring to William & Mary, Andy Van Vliet ’20 is playing a key role on a team in title contention making a stretch run to post-season play for the first time in his college basketball career.

A MERS coronavirus shows its namesake crown-like structure under the microscope.
A coronavirus Q&A with a virologist

Kurt Williamson is a virologist, an associate professor in William & Mary’s Department of Biology who specializes in the study of viruses. He offers some scientific context for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

A diver writes on a notebook underwater above a field of seagrass
Research reveals unique reproductive trait for seagrass

A joint Australian-U.S. team reveals that one group of seagrasses, Australian species of the genus Posidonia, has evolved yet another remarkable adaptation for ocean survival: a winged seed whose shape harnesses the force of underwater currents to hold it on the seafloor for rooting.

A great heart outlined in white on a yellow background
Making a HEART-felt impact

The newly established Health Emergency and Resources for the Tribe — or HEART — Fund provides vital funds that serve students in meaningful and transformative ways.

Yusef Salaam
King commemoration speaker turned ‘pain into purpose’

Yusef Salaam spoke at William & Mary’s 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration before a crowd of faculty, staff, students and community members who filled the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium.

A truck drives through flooding on a roadway
Sea-level report cards: 2019 data adds to trend in acceleration

The annual update of their sea level “report cards” by researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science adds evidence of an accelerating rate of sea-level rise at nearly all tidal stations along the U.S. coastline.

Frances Engoron
Three to receive W&M Alumni Medallion

The Alumni Medallion is the highest and most prestigious award given by the Alumni Association. Meet our 2020 recipients, who represent outstanding dedication, commitment and assistance to William & Mary; exemplary professional accomplishments; and leadership in civic engagement.

Students stand in the gallery of the Virginia State Capitol
Students lobby for W&M at 24th annual Road to Richmond

Road to Richmond, sponsored by the W&M President’s Office and the Office of Government Relations, offers students a platform to represent their interests before members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Students in dining hall
W&M eliminates single-use plastics in dining halls

As part of the university’s ongoing sustainability efforts, William & Mary Dining Services implemented a phase-out to use up its remaining stock of single-use plastics on the way to switching to alternatives.

W&M's Raymond A. Mason School of Business on a sunny day
W&M's online MBA ranked 28th in nation by U.S. News

In U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Program rankings, William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business jumps to 28th overall and ranks even higher for veterans, coming in at 22nd.

A child gives a thumbs-up while holding a tennis racket
Kids, volunteers connect at ACEing Autism tennis camp

With the help of local volunteers ranging from children to retirees, the camp gave 14 kids on the autism spectrum the chance to not just gain tennis skills, but to build connections — and confidence.

Inga Carboni
Q&A: Inga Carboni on networking in the New Year

Inga Carboni, an associate professor at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business, is the author of 2019’s “Connect the Dots How to Build, Nurture, and Leverage Your Network to Achieve Your Personal and Professional Goals.”

Jean Berger Estes ’75 and Robey Estes ’74
Estes’ endowment affords opportunity

$1.5 million gift to fund scholarships at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business.