Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards

Deborah Cheesebro - 2023 Recipient

Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of William & Mary Police Deborah Cheesebro, Ph.D. is retiring after nearly a decade at the university and over fifty years of law enforcement with a legacy as a transformational and compassionate leader.

Deb came to W&M in 2014 to oversee the police department and the offices of emergency management, risk management and environmental health and safety. She led the growth of the police department to 24 full-time sworn officers and transformed the department’s policing philosophy and culture. She established a values-based approach to policing, expanding the department’s commitments to integrity, professionalism, community engagement and fair and impartial policing.

With a spirit energized by innovation, Deb modernized the department through revised policies and procedures; strengthened professional training and career development; reorganized organizational structure; revised recruiting, hiring and promotional processes and instilled a focus on qualitative response to community needs.

Critically, Deb overhauled the department’s emergency communications center, including transitioning to fiber optics technology to enhance reliability. Her colleagues agree that “Deb has worked tirelessly to make the W&M community safe, and also to make sure that the community feels safe.”

Deb was recognized by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion in 2019-20 for “her efforts … making the department more demographically similar to the community and helping build tremendous relationships.” In 2021, WMPD received the inaugural Building Connections and Bridging Differences Team Award for its work promoting compassion, empathy and respectful discourse.

Vice President of Student Affairs Ginger Ambler shared, “Rarely have I known someone as selfless as Deb Cheesebro. ... She has devoted her life’s work to serving the public, to mentoring her colleagues and young officers, to engaging meaningfully with those whom she serves, and (if necessary) to sacrificing her own safety for the sake of another. There is no greater gift she could have given this W&M community.”

The Sullivan Award is given in honor of Deb’s meaningful and enduring influence on countless students, colleagues and friends at William & Mary. Her leadership, empathy, good humor and years of devoted service have changed us all for the better.