William and Mary Digest May 1

Staff writer

Catch the King catches Guinness World Record

    Catch the King, a Hampton Roads citizen-science project for mapping high tides, is now officially a Guinness world record holder. The project's chief science liaison is Derek Loftis, an assistant research scientist at the College William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

    London-based Guinness World Records Ltd. announced this week that Catch the King’s debut event has earned a place in its book of accomplishments under the category of “most contributions to an environmental survey.” More than 700 Catch the King volunteers surveyed a high tide on the morning of Nov. 5, 2017, and collected a record-setting 59,718 measurements, according to the Guinness citation.

    All that data-gathering helped improve a tidal flooding forecasting model developed at the school’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Catch the King also inspired a new flood mapping program launched last year by WHRO Public Media in more than 120 science classrooms across Hampton Roads. And Catch the King is becoming a springboard for citizen-science projects and art-science collaborations throughout the region.

    Latest employee climate survey is released

    William and Mary employees see the university as a good place to work and feel engaged in their jobs. However, they are concerned about pay and opportunities for advancement at the university, according to a fall 2018 survey of employees — both faculty and staff — at the university.

    The school recently received the results of that survey, and human resources representatives will meet with groups across campus within the next few months to discuss the findings. Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration, presented highlights from the survey to the Board of Visitors during its meeting on campus last week.

    A salary increase of 3 percent for all faculty and staff was approved as part of next year’s budget.

    “While we are happy to hear that most employees think that the university is a good place to work, there are clearly areas where improvement is still needed,” said Jones. “We have been working to address these areas since the 2015 survey and will continue to do so. The results of this survey are invaluable to that work and our goal of making sure employees feel valued and supported.”

    The survey was administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers and focused on seven overall areas: employee engagement, William and Mary as a place to work, employee views of their jobs, pay and benefits, supervisor quality, overall management quality and diversity. The Gelfond Group, now part of PwC, conducted a near-identical survey at William and Mary in 2015.

    The response rate for the latest survey was 76 percent, up 5 percentage points from the 2015 survey.

    $ 1 million gift from 1693 Scholars Program founders will expand program’s reach

    The threat of gun violence is built into Julia Gibson’s ’22 consciousness. From the Sept. 11 attacks when she was a toddler, to the Virginia Tech shooting when she was 7, the threat has been a persistent possibility. When the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting occurred last fall she was an 18-year-old freshman at William and Mary, and this time she had something to say.

    Gibson, a 1693 Scholar, wrote an op-ed about her experience growing up in an era where mass shootings occur so often that some of her peers became numb to them by high school. She crafted the op-ed and, soon after, it was published in The Washington Post.

    “I attended a Shabbat service with friends and the next day the synagogue shooting took place,” Gibson said. “I went to the Murray House, which houses the 1693 Scholars Program, and decided to write down what I was thinking — the Murrays made that possible.”

    Gibson, from Richmond, plans to study history, film and media studies. She is one of more than 60 students at the school who have benefited from the generosity of Jim Murray J.D. '74 and Bruce Murray since they established the scholars program in 2003. The Murrays recently expanded the program through a $1 million gift that will add an additional scholar to the program.

    The most competitive of William and Mary scholarships, the 1693 Scholarship is merit-based and awarded to eight students annually. The new gift from the Murrays will add a ninth student to the program’s freshman class in 2020.

    Two juniors awarded Goldwater Scholarship

    William and Mary’s legacy of success with the Goldwater Scholarship Program continues in 2019 as two students have been named to the exclusive list of undergraduate scholars.

    Hana Warner ’20 and Grace Solini ’20 are among just 496 undergraduate students nationwide to be named Goldwater Scholars in 2019. They were chosen from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants and 1,200 nominees from 443 academic institutions.

    The prestigious award, established by Congress to honor the work of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, is given to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Goldwater Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

    Universities are allowed to nominate up to four students for the award each year. Since the award’s inception in 1989, William and Mary has had at least one Goldwater Scholar each year except 2011.

    Items used are from William and Mary news releases.

    Martin can be reached at (757)-243-3685, by email at sararose.martin@vagazette.com or on Twitter at @SaraRoseMartin.

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