by Kate Hoving
“I JUST MET THE MOST AMAZING PERSON. YOU HAVE TO INTERVIEW HER.”
In four years of working with Cindy Gass, the Reves Center’s Director of Financial Operations, she had never said that about anyone. She had just met with Louise Ndiaye, the new Sponsored Program Administrator assigned to the Reves Center. Since Ndiaye assumed the position only in late July, Gass invited her to Reves to introduce her to the office and programs before the semester started.
With such a ringing – and rare – endorsement, a trip across town was definitely in order.
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) lives in a two-story building on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Although the office understated and nondescript on the outside, the work that goes on inside is key to the research mission of the university.
Ndiaye and her colleagues assist departments in the application for – and management of – external awards. As Gass explains, “Her job is to ensure that the university’s interests are looked out for by verifying that all grant guidelines are followed and making sure that we’re good stewards of the research funds we receive from other entities, whether it be state, federal or private.”
Ndiaye is responsible for several other departments as well as Reves, from Anthropology, Kinesiology and the Charles Center, to Public Policy and Theatre, Speech & Dance, to name just a few. For the Reves Center, Ndiaye currently man- ages the grant for the W&M Confucius Institute, which means she works with Gass to prepare financial reports and ensure compliance.
Her career path to William & Mary has been broad, both professionally and geographically. Ndiaye was born in Saint-Louis in northwest Senegal. It had been the French colonial capital, and she appreciated growing up among its rich blend of different cultures, languages and traditions. She went to France for university, for a year in Grenoble and then on to the Sorbonne, where she earned her master’s degree in finance. Paris was a wonderful place to be a student and young professional, and it took moving there for her to appreciate fully her roots in Senegal. “I grew up a lot in Paris and realized that what I thought I was looking for was something I had already at home.”
Ndiaye began her career working in finance and banking in Paris. After marrying, she moved to the U.S. and worked in the New York of the bank in Paris. Her husband’s career U.S. military brought them to Virginia in late 2005. She worked at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton. In 2011 they were stationed in Japan. She loved their three years there, traveling all across Southeast Asia.
Ndiaye returned with her husband and children to Virginia in 2014, and started her career at W&M as a grants specialist for Thomas Farmer, professor and associated dean of research at the School of Education. She worked there until joining OSP, and Farmer’s praise is enthusiastic. “Louise Ndiaye is truly a treasure at William & Mary. She often did the impossible by making it fun and enjoyable to build budgets for grant proposals,” he recalls. “Faculty and staff would seek her help be- cause they could always count on her warm smile, boundless energy, and infallible skill in solving difficult budgetary questions and issues. Louise’s international background, her proficiency in multiple languages, and her incessant desire to learn and explore new experiences ensured that she would help you to see things in fresh, innovative, and impactful ways.”
Ndiaye enjoys the work. “What I like about grants for research is that I can see the start, and I can see the end.”
But she also sees the bigger picture. “I like variety, learning about the different fields, such as kinesiology, and the different ways of doing things,” Ndaiye explains. “My role may be a small percentage of the total grant, but I like seeing the change that happens, the results of the research, and knowing at least I was part of it.”
A small percentage? I defer to Farmer to explain Ndiaye’s true impact: “Simply put, Louise makes the tedious interesting and the workday rewarding. She is a genuine and sincere colleague that you want to have on your team.”