Katherine Rowe was sworn in as the 28th and first female president of the College of William and Mary by Gov. Ralph Northam at a ceremony on July 2.
“Being inducted as the 28th president of this great institution is an incredible honor,” Rowe said. “In 1918, we became the first coeducational public university in the Commonwealth, a 100-year anniversary we celebrate this year. And I discovered there are so many firsts here. More than any other school, William and Mary has shaped the character of our country of the last three centuries.”
Rowe chose to be sworn in on the Thomson Bible from William and Mary’s special collections. Published in 1808 by Jane Aitken, this was the first English translation of a Bible printed by a woman in the United States. Rowe’s conscious choice reflected the fact that she is the first female president in the college’s 325-year history.
William and Mary's Board of Visitors unanimously selected Rowe on Feb. 20 to succeed President Taylor Reveley III, who retired on June 30. While the swearing-in ceremony took place on July 2, Rowe’s tenure as president officially began on Sunday, July 1.
Rowe said she will spend the first three months of her tenure learning about the college by talking to the William and Mary community. Looking at more long-term plans, Rowe said she will complete, in the next two years, the For the Bold fund-raising campaign Reveley started.
Previously Rowe worked at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she led academic strategy and planning, including overseeing all academic operations. During her tenure, Smith transformed its liberal arts curriculum, increased diversity in faculty hiring, launched one of the first statistical and data sciences majors at a liberal arts college and broke national fundraising records for women’s colleges. She also served as Smith’s interim vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity.
The college will hold an official inauguration celebration for Rowe during the spring 2019 semester. Additional information will be released later in the year.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.