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W&M launches ‘Flourishing in Life Transitions’ certificate for veterans, intelligence members

New program focuses on wellness in careers and personal lives

William & Mary’s new Veteran-to-Executive Transition (VET) initiative will launch its first certificate program – “Flourishing in Life Transitions”in May 2021. “Flourishing” will prepare veterans and members of the intelligence community to transition to high-level civilian management positions, while flourishing in their careers and personal lives.

“Transitions in life are often stressful and uncertain,” said Special Assistant for Military and Veterans Affairs Robert Merkl, who oversees the VET initiative. “That stress and uncertainty can be minimized by preparation designed by others who have already been through the process.”

Developed in partnership with The COMMIT Foundation, “Flourishing” will take place over two weeks in May 2021 in the new Center for Military Transition in William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Potential enrollees for this program’s inaugural offering will include approximately 40 military veterans and retirees from across both the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“COMMIT is incredibly honored to partner with William & Mary to build this new programming,” said Anne Meree Craig, CEO and Co-Founder of The COMMIT Foundation. “We have almost a decade of experience building meaningful solutions for our post 9/11 generation as they find purpose both personally and professionally after uniform. We can’t think of a more appropriate partner than William & Mary.”  

“Flourishing” builds on the business focus of successful veteran transition programs at other universities by adding a holistic approach centered on wellness. The certificate will promote physical and mental wellness, and help participants develop insights into corporate culture and build business skills critical to flourishing in management positions. 

The Curriculum

This two-week certificate will be rigorous and intensive. The program will hone advanced human capital skills and core business skills needed to flourish in leadership, teams and career. The business content will draw from core courses in William & Mary’s MBA programs, and will introduce organizational behavior, business analytics, storytelling, finance, accounting, marketing, entrepreneurial thinking and more.

“The team at William & Mary has created a high quality experience for the participants that is truly like no other,” said Ken White, associate dean for MBA and executive programs at the William & Mary School of Business. “People participating in the program will learn to flourish not just as individuals but as professionals, too. The program is designed so each participant has a transformational experience.”

Based on the latest research on flourishing, participants will also engage in experiential learning that fosters a deeper level of effectiveness. They will learn the difference between fear-based excellence and authentic excellence, and how to apply the eight dimensions of wellness to their lives. Participants will engage in a diverse array of wellness activities and instruction. Wellness activities will take place in William & Mary’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center, Bee McLeod Recreation Center, and The Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheater at Lake Matoaka.

“The relentless pace, pressure, and uncertainty of our world requires advanced and sophisticated management strategies to lead effectively,” said from Kelly Crace, associate vice president for health & wellness and the director for the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence (CMAX) “This program is designed to take a group of professionals with proven resilience to a deeper level of flourishing.”.

The curriculum leverages strengths across William & Mary’s campus: the MBA faculty — ranked as number one in the U.S. by Bloomberg BusinessWeek in 2020 and 2019 — and subject-matter experts from the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence and Whole of Government Center of Excellence, all with extensive experience engaging with the military and intelligence communities.

William & Mary’s Excellence in Supporting Veterans

William & Mary has a track record of innovation in supporting veterans, as well as members of the intelligence community, and consistently ranks among the nation’s top military friendly universities. It is one of the top two universities for veterans in Virginia and 18th in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The university enrolls high numbers of service members and veterans (250 annually), especially in its graduate schools, where they represent 8.6% of all students. The business school’s MBA programs were selected as “military friendly” in each of the past five years, and William & Mary Law School was the top “military friendly” American graduate program in 2020.

William & Mary’s commitment to serving veterans reflects its location: Virginia is the eight most populous state for veterans and is expected to climb to fifth by 2027 according to U.S. the Department of Veterans Affairs’ projections for 2017-2037. 

William & Mary’s support network for veterans encompasses the whole university and includes the Office of Student Veterans Engagement, the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, the Troops to Teachers Virginia Center, the Military and Veterans’ Counseling Program, the Major General James Wright MBA program, the Whole of Government Center for Excellence, Army ROTC, and more.

The university also works very closely with the intelligence community and other civil service organizations.

“Flourishing” is a key part of William & Mary VET, which debuted in November 2020 and was made possible with a $10 million gift from an anonymous alumna who serves as a trustee of the William & Mary Foundation. Using a holistic approach, William & Mary VET emphasizes cultural adjustment and wellness, as well as key management skills. It harnesses the university’s strengths in graduate education to respond to a workforce shortage in Hampton Roads, Virginia, which is home to William & Mary and one of the world’s largest military populations, including major Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine command headquarters. Robert M. Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98, former secretary of defense and current chancellor of the university, will serve as the honorary chair of the distinguished advisory group guiding William & Mary VET.  

Information on “Flourishing” is available at www.wm.edu/veterans. Program dates and costs may be subject to financial or COVID-related changes. Queries may be directed to flourishing@wm.edu.