The College of William & Mary

The College of William & Mary
The College of William & Mary
in Virginia
Established 1693[1][2]
Type Public university
Endowment US $624.7 million[3]
Chancellor Sandra Day O'Connor
Robert M. Gates '65 (effective February 2012)[4]
President W. Taylor Reveley III
Provost Michael R. Halleran[5]
Rector Jeffrey Trammell[6]
Academic staff 596[7]
Undergraduates 5,850[8]
Postgraduates 2,042[8]
Location Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.
Campus Suburban
1,200 acres (4.9 km²)
Newspaper The Flat Hat
The Virginia Informer (Independent)
Colors Green, Gold, Silver[9]
Athletics NCAA Division I
Nickname Tribe
Mascot Griffin[10]

The College of William & Mary in Virginia (also known as The College, William & Mary, or W&M) is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. Founded in 1693 by a royal charter issued by King William III and Queen Mary II, it is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States after Harvard University.

William & Mary educated U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler as well as other key figures important to the development of the nation, including U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and 16 signers of the Declaration of Independence. W&M founded the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society in 1776 and was the first school of higher education in the United States to install an honor code of conduct for students. The establishment of graduate programs in law and medicine in 1779 make it one of the first universities in the United States.

In addition to its undergraduate program, the College is home to several graduate and professional schools, including law, business, public policy, education, marine science and colonial history. In 2008, W&M enrolled 5,850 undergraduate and 2,042 graduate and professional students.[8]



Colonial era: 1693–1776

Reverend Dr. James Blair, founder of William & Mary

A school of higher education for both Native American young men and the sons of the colonists was one of the earliest goals of the leaders of the Virginia Colony. The College was founded on February 8, 1693, under a royal charter (legally, letters patent) to "make, found and establish a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and the good arts and be supported and maintained, in all time coming."[11] Named in honor of the reigning monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II, the College is one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution. The Charter named James Blair as the College's first president (a lifetime appointment which he held until his death in 1743). William & Mary was founded as an Anglican institution; governors were required to be members of the Church of England, and professors were required to declare adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles.[12]

The school's charter called for a center of higher education consisting of three schools. The Philosophy School instructed students in the advanced study of moral philosophy (logic, rhetoric, ethics) as well as natural philosophy (physics, metaphysics, and mathematics); upon completion of this coursework, the Divinity School prepared these young men for ordination in the Church of England. This curriculum made William & Mary the first American college with a full faculty.[citation needed]

In 1693, the College was given a seat in the House of Burgesses and it was determined that the College would be supported by tobacco taxes and export duties on furs and animal skins. The College acquired a 330 acres (1.3 km2) parcel for the new school,[13] 8 miles (13 km) from Jamestown. In 1694, the new school opened in temporary buildings.

Williamsburg was granted a royal charter as a city in 1722 and served as the capital of Colonial Virginia from 1699 to 1780. During this time, the College served as a law center and lawmakers frequently used its buildings. It educated future U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

Revolution and transition

James Monroe, 5th President of US, W&M alumnus

During the period of the American Revolution, freedom of religion was established in Virginia and the separation of church and state achieved, notably with the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Future U.S. President James Madison was a key figure in the transition to religious freedom in Virginia, and Right Reverend James Madison, his cousin and Thomas Jefferson, who was on the Board of Visitors, helped The College of William & Mary to make the transition as well. The college became the first American university with the establishment of the graduate schools in law and medicine. As its President, Reverend Madison worked with the new leaders of Virginia, most notably Jefferson, on a reorganization and changes for the College which included the abolition of the Divinity School and the Indian School and the establishment of the first elective system of study and honor system.[14]

The College of William and Mary is home to the nation's first collegiate secret society, the F.H.C. Society, founded November 11, 1750. On December 5, 1776, students John Heath and William Short (Class of 1779) founded Phi Beta Kappa as a secret literary and philosophical society. Other secret societies known to currently exist at the College include: The 7 Society, 13 Club, Alpha Club, Bishop James Madison Society, Flat Hat Club, The Society, The Spades, W Society, and Wren Society.[15][16]

In 1842, alumni of the College formed the Society of the Alumni[17] which is now the sixth oldest alumni organization in the United States. In 1859, a great fire caused destruction to the College. The Alumni House is one of the few original antebellum structures remaining on campus; notable others include the Wren Building, the President's House, and the Brafferton.

Civil War, Reconstruction, and the early 20th century

Wren Building, 1859-1862

At the outset of the American Civil War (1861–1865), enlistments in the Confederate Army depleted the student body and on May 10, 1861, the faculty voted to close the College for the duration of the conflict. The College Building was used as a Confederate barracks and later as a hospital, first by Confederate, and later Union forces. The Battle of Williamsburg was fought nearby during the Peninsula Campaign on May 5, 1862, and the city fell to the Union the next day. The Brafferton building of the College was used for a time as quarters for the commanding officer of the Union garrison occupying the town. On September 9, 1862, drunken soldiers of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry set fire to the College Building,[18] purportedly in an attempt to prevent Confederate snipers from using it for cover. Much damage was done to the community during the Union occupation, which lasted until September 1865.

Following restoration of the Union, Virginia was destitute from the War. The College's 16th president, Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, finally reopened the school in 1869 using his personal funds but the College closed in 1882 due to lack of funds. In 1888, William & Mary resumed operations under a substitute charter when the Commonwealth of Virginia passed an act[19] appropriating $10,000 to support the College as a state teacher-training institution. Lyon Gardiner Tyler (son of US President and alumnus John Tyler) became the 17th president of the College following President Ewell's retirement. Tyler, along with 18th president J.A.C. Chandler, expanded the College into a modern institution. In March 1906, the General Assembly passed an act taking over the grounds of the colonial institution, and it has remained publicly supported ever since. In 1918, William & Mary preceded the University of Virginia to be one of the first universities in Virginia to admit women and become coeducational. [2] During this time, enrollment increased from 104 students in 1889 to 1269 students by 1932.

The College, circa 1902

Largely thanks to the vision of a William and Mary instructor, Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, the Sir Christopher Wren Building, the President's House and the Brafferton (the President's office) were restored to their eighteenth century appearance between 1928 and 1932 with substantial financial support from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Together, they led the establishment and beginnings of Colonial Williamsburg.


In 1930, William & Mary expanded its territorial range by establishing a branch in Norfolk, Virginia. This extension would eventually become the independent state-supported institution known as Old Dominion University.

Significant campus construction continued under the College's nineteenth president, John Stewart Bryan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt received an honorary degree from the College on October 20, 1934.[3] In 1935, the Sunken Garden was constructed, just west of the Wren Building. The sunken design is taken from a similar landscape feature at Chelsea Hospital in London, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

The College has a history of supporting freedom of the press dating back at least to the 1940s. In 1945, for example, the College administration sanctioned the student Marilyn Kaemmerle for an article she had written in The Flat Hat supporting the end of racist policies of segregation, anti-miscegenation and white supremacy.[20] According to Time Magazine, in response, over one-thousand William & Mary students held "a spirited mass meeting protesting infringement of the sacred principles of freedom of the press bequeathed by Alumnus Thomas Jefferson." She was pardoned by the college Board of Visitors decades later.[21]

In 1960, the Colleges of William & Mary, a short-lived five campus university system, was founded. It included the College of William & Mary, the Richmond Professional Institute, the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, Christopher Newport College, and Richard Bland College.[22] It was dissolved in 1962.

In 1974, Jay Winston Johns willed Ash Lawn-Highland, the 535-acre (2.17 km2) historic Albemarle County, Virginia estate of alumnus and U.S. President James Monroe, to the College. The College restored this historic presidential home near Charlottesville and opened it to the public.[23]

Earl Gregg Swem Library at The College of William & Mary in Virginia.


Modern day Sir Christopher Wren Building with the statue of Lord Botetourt

The College is located on a 1,200-acre (490 ha) campus in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Sir Christopher Wren Building is both the oldest college building in the United States and a National Historic Landmark.[24] The building, colloquially referred to as the "Wren Building", was so named upon its renovation in 1931 to honor the English architect Sir Christopher Wren. The basis for the 1930s name is a 1724 history in which Hugh Jones stated that the 1699 design was "first modelled by Sir Christopher Wren" and then was adapted "by the Gentlemen there" in Virginia; little is known about how it looked, since it burned within a few years of its completion. Today's Wren Building is based on the design of its 1716 replacement. The College's Alumni Association recently published an article suggesting that Wren's connection to the 1931 building is a viable subject of investigation.[25] A follow-up letter clarified the apocryphal nature of the Wren connection.[citation needed]

Two other buildings around the Wren Building complete a triangle known as "Ancient Campus": the Brafferton (built in 1723 and originally housing the Indian School, now the President and Provost's offices) and the President's House (built in 1732). In addition to the "Ancient Campus," which dates to the eighteenth century, the College also consists of "Old Campus" and New Campus."

"Old Campus" consists of academic buildings and dormitories built in close proximity to the Wren Building and match the Georgian and Anglo-Dutch architecture of the colonial buildings of "Ancient Campus" and Colonial Williamsburg. Located directly to the west of the Wren Building, the majority of "Old Campus" was constructed during the 1920s and 1930s and is dominated by the Sunken Gardens and the College's football stadium, Zable Stadium. Also located within "Old Campus" are Sorority Court, the majority of upperclassmen dormitories, and the offices and classrooms of the History, Philosophy, Religion, Music, Modern Language, and English Departments.

Adjoining "Old Campus" to the north and west is "New Campus." It was constructed primarily between 1950 and 1980, and it consists of academic buildings and dormitories that, while of the same brick construction as "Old Campus," fit into the vernacular of modern architecture. Beginning with the College's tercentenary in 1993, the College has embarked on a building and renovation program that favors the traditional architectural style of "Old Campus," while incorporating energy-efficient technologies. Several buildings constructed since the 1990s have been LEED certified. Additionally, as the buildings of "New Campus" are renovated after decades of use, several have been remodeled to incorporate more traditional architectural elements in an effort to unify the appearance of the entire College campus. "New Campus" is dominated by William and Mary Hall, Earl Gregg Swem Library, and Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. It also includes the offices and classrooms of the Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Biology, and Chemistry Departments, the majority of freshman dormitories, the fraternity complex, and the majority of the College's athletic fields. The newest addition to "New Campus" is Alan B. Miller Hall, the headquarters of the College's Mason School of Business.

The recent wave of construction at William and Mary has resulted in a new building for the School of Education, located not far from William and Mary Hall. Additionally, new facilities have freed up space in existing structures. The offices and classrooms of the Government, Economics, and Classical Language Departments, which currently share a building on "New Campus," could potentially be separated and some relocated to vacant buildings awaiting renovation within the "Old Campus."

The vast majority of William and Mary's 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) consists of woodlands and Lake Matoaka, an artificial lake.[26] The College has shown a dedication to the stewardship and preservation of these natural elements, which are accessible via the trails running throughout the campus.

The College also has property and buildings not contiguous to campus, including the William and Mary School of Law and the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, both located on a piece of property approximately four blocks southeast of the Wren Building. Additionally, approximately a mile northwest of "New Campus" is the Dillard Complex (located across from the modern campus of Virginia's Eastern State Hospital), which is home to several offices, two former dormitories, and Plumeri Park, the College's baseball stadium.

Organization and administration

Current president W. Taylor Reveley III

The Board of Visitors is a corporation established by the General Assembly of Virginia to govern and supervise the operation of the College of William & Mary and of Richard Bland College.[27] The corporation is composed of 17 members appointed by the Governor of Virginia, based upon on the recommendations made by the Society of the Alumni, to a maximum of two-successive four-year terms. The Board elects a Rector, Vice Rector, and Secretary and the Board meets four times annually.[27] The Board is responsible for appointing a president, related administrative officers, and an honorary chancellor, approving degrees, admission policies, departments, and schools, and executing the fiduciary duties of supervising the College's property and finances.[28]

The Chancellor of the College of William and Mary is a ceremonial role. Until 1776, the position was held by an English subject, usually the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London, who served as the College’s advocate to the crown, while a colonial President oversaw the day-to-day activities of the Williamsburg campus. Following the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was appointed as the first American chancellor; later United States President John Tyler held the post. The College has recently had a number of distinguished chancellors: former Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger (1986–1993), former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1993–2000), and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (2000–2005).[29] Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was installed as the College's 23rd Chancellor on April 7, 2006.[30] When her term expires in February 2012, Robert M. Gates '65 will succeed her.[4]

The Board of Visitors delegates to a president the operating responsibility and accountability for the administrative, fiscal, and academic performance of the College as well as representing the College on public occasions such as conferral of degrees.[27] In September 2008, W. Taylor Reveley III became the 27th President of the College, succeeding Gene Nichol.[31] The president is assisted by a provost, the senior academic officer of the university, and several vice presidents.

Faculty members are organized into separate faculties of the Faculty of Arts and Science as well as those for the respective schools of Business, Education, Law, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science.[27] Each faculty is presided over by a dean, who reports to the provost, and governs itself through separate by-laws approved by the Board of Visitors. The faculty are also represented by a faculty assembly that serves to advise the president and provost.[27]

The Royal Hospital School, an independent boarding school in the United Kingdom, is a sister institution.[32]


The College of William & Mary is a medium-sized, highly residential, public research university.[33] The focal point of the university is its four-year, full-time undergraduate program which comprises most of the institution's enrollment. The College has a strong undergraduate arts & sciences focus, with a select number of graduate programs in diverse fields ranging from American colonial history to marine science. The College offers an undergraduate joint degree program in engineering with Columbia University as well as a liberal arts joint degree program with the venerable University of St. Andrews in Scotland. [4]

The graduate programs are dominant in STEM fields[citation needed] and the university has a high level of research activity.[33] For the 2007–08 school year, 1,454 undergraduate, 440 masters, 60 doctoral, and 209 professional degrees were conferred.[8] William & Mary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[34]

William & Mary offers exchange programs with 15 foreign schools, drawing more than 12% of its undergraduates into these programs, and receives U.S. State Department grants to further expand its foreign exchange programs.[35]

Learning environment

William & Mary is committed to ensuring the quality of its undergraduate teaching experience.[36] To advance this mission, W&M provides a "small college environment" and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1 (the second lowest among U.S. public universities), thereby fostering student-professor interaction. A notable 99% of all undergraduate classes, excluding labs, are taught by professors (not teaching assistants) and 86% of all classes contain 40 or fewer students.[37] The 2011 U.S. News college rankings placed W&M 5th in the nation for "Best Undergraduate Teaching" thereby supporting the efficacy of the College's mission. [5]

Student body and admissions

Demographics of student body[8][38]
Undergraduate Virginia U.S. Census
African American 7.2% 20.5% 12.1%
Asian American 8.1% 5.4% 4.3%
White American 59.5% 72.4% 65.8%
Hispanic American 5.7% 6.2% 14.5%
Native American 0.84% 0.74% 0.9%
International student 2.3% N/A N/A
Unknown/unspecified 16.34% N/A N/A

William & Mary enrolled 5,850 undergraduate, 1,414 graduate, and 628 professional students in 2008.[8] Women make up 54.7% of the undergraduate, 53.5% of the graduate, and 49% of the professional student bodies, respectively.

Admission to W&M is considered "most selective" according to U.S. News and World Report.[36] There were 11,636 applications for admission to the class of 2012: 3,966 were admitted (33.7%) and 1,387 enrolled for an admissions yield of 35%.[8] Over three-quarters of enrolling students (79%) graduated in the top tenth of their high school class, 77.6% had a high school GPA above 3.75, and the interquartile range on SAT scores was 630–730 for reading, 620–710 for math, and 610–720 for writing.[8] The top five overlap schools for William & Mary applicants are Cornell University, Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University.[39] 95% of freshmen enrolled the subsequent year, the four year graduation rate was 84%, and the six year rate was 91%.[40]

Undergraduate tuition for 2007–2008 was $6,090 for Virginia residents and $24,960 for out-of-state students.[41] One-third (32%) of the student body received loans, W&M granted over $8 million in need-based scholarships in 2007–2008 to 1,280 students (22.6% of the student body), and average student indebtedness was $15,602.[41]

Law and medical school acceptance rates

Sixty percent of W&M students go on to graduate school within five years of graduation.[42] From 1999 to 2003 (the latest available figures), W&M's law and medical school acceptance rates hovered between 72% and 84%, respectively. These figures are notably above the national acceptance rate averages of 50% and 64% for medical and law school, respectively.[43]


University rankings (overall)
Forbes[44] 49
U.S. News & World Report[45] 31
Washington Monthly[46] 24
QS[47] 401-450
Times[48] 75

The College of William & Mary's undergraduate program is ranked as the 6th best public university program in America, according to the 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

In overall rankings of American institutions (public and private), W&M ranked #8 by The Washington Monthly in 2009[49] and moved up two places to #31 in the "National University" category of the 2011 U.S. News rankings.[50][51]

Undergraduate teaching

William & Mary's undergraduate teaching ranks among the Top 5 in the nation according to the 2011 U.S. News college rankings. The College ranked #5 in "Best Undergraduate Teaching. "This supports the College's stated commitment to the high quality of its undergraduate learning environment.

Best value

William & Mary ranked as the #3 "best value" among America's public universities in the 2007 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.[52] William & Mary's Swem Library was ranked in 2008 the Princeton Review as the #8 "Best College Library".[53]

Business program

The undergraduate business program is steadily climbing national rankings due in part to improved faculty quality and a new building. [6] It was ranked #8 among public undergraduate programs (#25 overall) by the 2010 Business Week survey and #43 by the 2009 U.S. News survey. [7][54][55]

Graduate school rankings

U.S. Colonial History

William & Mary's graduate program in U.S. colonial history has consistently ranked among the Top 5 programs in the nation by U.S. News -- it ranked #4 in the 2009 U.S. News (the most recent report for this category), behind only the programs at Harvard, Yale and Penn. [8]


William & Mary Law School currently ranks #27 (tied with Boston College and the University of Iowa) in the latest 2012 edition of the U.S. News law school rankings (#10 among public universities). According to U.S. News, W&M Law is the second-highest ranked law school in its home state of Virginia and ranks above peer competitor law schools Washington and Lee University and Wake Forest University.


William & Mary's graduate business program (Mason School of Business) ranked #47 by Business Week in 2010,[56] #49 by Forbes in 2008,[57] #40 nationally by the Financial Times in 2008[58] and #17 nationally by the Wall Street Journal.[59] It is also ranked #83 by US News and World Report.[60]


William and Mary's School of Education ranked #39 in the 2011 U.S. News and World Report rankings.


As of 2008, W&M's fiscal year endowment totaled US $580 million.[61] With a total enrollment of 7,892 students (5,850 undergraduates and 2,042 postgraduates), this equates to a $73,492 per student endowment, a common metric of an institution's financial strength. This places W&M ahead of flagship public universities in several neighboring states including the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ($55,000) and the University of Maryland, College Park ($8,600).


Since the seventeenth century, many prominent academics have chosen to teach at William & Mary or in its graduate and professional schools. Distinguished faculty include the first professor of law in the United States, George Wythe (who taught Henry Clay, John Marshall, and Thomas Jefferson, among others); William Small (Thomas Jefferson's cherished mentor); William and Thomas Dawson, who were also presidents of William & Mary; and the founder and first president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, William Barton Rogers, earlier taught at William & Mary, at which he had himself been educated. Several members of the socially elite and politically influential Tucker family, including Nathaniel Beverly, St. George, and Henry St. George Tucker, Sr. (who penned the original honor code pledge for the University of Virginia that remains in use there today), taught at William & Mary.

The noted constitutional scholar William Van Alstyne, who came from teaching at Duke Law School. Professor Benjamin Bolger is the second-most credentialed person in modern history behind Michael Nicholson.[62] Lawrence Wilkerson, current Harriman Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy, was chief of staff for Colin Powell. Susan Wise Bauer is an author and founder of Peace Hill Press who teaches writing and American literature at the College. James Axtell, who teaches history, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a Fellow in 2004.

Student life

Campus activities

The College enjoys a temperate climate.[63] In addition to renovations on the student recreation center (including a new gym, rock climbing wall, and larger exercise rooms),[64] the largely wooded campus has its own lake and outdoor amphitheatre. The Virginia Beach oceanfront is 60 miles (97 km) away, and Washington D.C. is a 150-mile (240 km) drive to the north.

The College's Alma Mater Productions (AMP) hosts concerts, comedians, and speakers on campus and in the 8,600-person capacity Kaplan Arena.[65] Students produce numerous publications on campus, including the official student newspaper The Flat Hat, the conservative-leaning newspaper The Virginia Informer, and the monthly magazine The DoG Street Journal. The school's television station, WMTV, produces informational content in the categories of cuisine, comedy, travel, and sports. Everyday Gourmet, the flagship production of the station, was recently featured in USA Today.[66]

The College has a large number of student run dance organizations including Swing and Ballroom Dance.[67] The Ballroom Dance club competes at various universities along the East Coast. In 2010, the College sent senior members to the US National Dancesport Competition.

The College also hosts a number of prominent student-run cultural organizations, such as the Chinese Student Organization, African Cultural Society, Japanese Cultural Association, Vietnamese Student Association, and Tribe Bhangra Team. These organizations hold events to promote the spread and awareness of different cultures from around the world.

Honor system

Thomas Jefferson

William & Mary's honor system was first established by alumnus Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and is widely believed to be the nation's first.[68] During the orientation week, every entering student recites the Honor Pledge in the Great Hall of the Wren Building pledging:

As a Member of the William & Mary community I pledge, on my Honor, not to lie, cheat, or steal in either my academic or personal life. I understand that such acts violate the Honor Code and undermine the community of trust of which we are all stewards.

The basis of W&M's Honor Pledge was written over 150 years ago by alumnus and law professor Henry St. George Tucker, Sr.[69] While teaching law at the University of Virginia, Tucker proposed that students attach a pledge to all exams confirming that on their honor they did not receive any assistance.[70][71] Tucker's honor pledge was the early basis of the Honor System at the University of Virginia.[72] At W&M, the Honor System stands as one of the College's most important traditions; it remains student-administered through the Honor Council with the advice of the faculty and administration of the College. The College's Honor System is codified such that students found guilty of cheating, stealing or lying are subject to sanctions ranging anywhere from a verbal warning up to expulsion.[73]


Crim Dell bridge in the heart of W&M's wooded campus

William & Mary has a number of traditions, including the Yule Log Ceremony, at which the president dresses as Santa Claus and reads a rendition of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", the Vice-President of Student Affairs reads "Twas the Night Before Finals," and The Gentlemen of the College sing the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas".[74] Christmas is a grand celebration at the College; decorated Christmas trees abound on campus. This popular tradition in fact started when German immigrant Charles Minnegerode, a humanities professor at the College in 1842 who taught Latin and Greek, brought one of the first Christmas trees to America. Entering into the social life of post-colonial Virginia, Minnigerode introduced the German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas at the home of law professor St. George Tucker, thereby becoming another of many influences that prompted Americans to adopt the practice at about that time. [9]

Incoming freshmen participate in Opening Convocation, at which they pass through the entrance of the Wren Building and are officially welcomed as the newest members of the College. Freshmen also have the opportunity, during orientation week, to serenade the President of the College at his home with the Alma Mater song. The Senior Walk is similar, in that graduating seniors walk through the Wren Building in their "departure" from the College. On the last day of classes, Seniors are invited to ring the bell in the cupola of the Wren Building.

One unofficial tradition is the Triathlon, a set of three tasks to be completed by each student prior to graduation. These include jumping the wall of the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg after hours (and if so inclined, running through the Boxwood Maze to the Palace itself), streaking through the Sunken Garden, and swimming in the Crim Dell pond.

Commencement exercises each year begin with the senior class walking through the Wren Building and across the campus, crossing the Crim Dell bridge, and arriving at William & Mary Hall for the commencement ceremony. The graduating class processes into the arena as the Choir of the College of William & Mary sings the William & Mary Hymn.

Fraternities and sororities

William & Mary has a long history of fraternities and sororities dating back to Phi Beta Kappa, the first "Greek-letter" organization, which was founded there in 1776 . Today, Greek organizations play an important role in the College community, along with other social organizations (e.g. theatre and club sports organizations). Overall, about one-third of its undergraduates are active members of 18 national fraternities and 12 sororities.[75] William & Mary is also home to several unique non-Greek social fraternities, notably the Nu Kappa Epsilon music sorority[76] and the Queens' Guard.[77]


William and Mary has eleven collegiate a cappella groups: The Christopher Wren Singers (1987, co-ed); The Gentlemen of the College (1990, all-male); The Stairwells (1990, all-male); Intonations (1991, all-female); The Accidentals (1992, all-female); Reveille (1992, all-female); DoubleTake (1993, co-ed); Common Ground (1995, all-female); One Accord (1998, all-male); The Cleftomaniacs (1999, co-ed); Passing Notes (2002, all-female).[78] The Sinfonicron, founded in 1965, is William and Mary's light opera company.[79] Music societies at the college include local chapters of the music honor societies Delta Omicron (co-ed) and Phi Mu Alpha (all-male) as well as Nu Kappa Epsilon (all-female). Nu Kappa Epsilon, founded in 1994 at William and Mary, is "dedicated to promoting the growth and development of musical activities at the College as well as in the Williamsburg community".[80] Its members are professional performing musicians.[81]

Comedy groups

William and Mary has two campus comedy groups. I.T. (short for Improvisational Theatre) has been around since 1986,[82] and has become a feeder into the professional improv scene in Chicago and Los Angeles, boasting performers with The Second City, I.O., ComedySportz, and Mission IMPROVable. In addition to performing shows across campus and Virginia, I.T. annually travels to Chicago as part of its Fall Tour, where new and returning members develop and practice their improvisational skills. Every year culminates with Improvathon, a 12-hour show at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre to benefit Avalon, a local battered women's shelter. The sketch comedy ensemble 7th Grade has been in existence since 1997.[83]


William & Mary Tribe logo

Formerly known as the "Indians," William & Mary's athletic teams are now known as the "Tribe". The College fields NCAA Division I teams for men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. In addition, there are women's field hockey, lacrosse and volleyball squads as well as men's baseball and football. In the 2004–05 season, the Tribe garnered five Colonial Athletic Association titles, and it leads the conference with over 80 titles. In that same year, several teams competed in the NCAA Championships, with the football team appearing in the Division I-AA national semifinals. The men's cross country team finished 8th and 5th at the Division I NCAA Men's Cross Country Championship in 2006 and 2009, respectively. The William & Mary men's basketball team is one of five original Division I schools that has never been to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.

There have been many recent notable athletes who competed for the Tribe. On the men's soccer team, goalkeeper Adin Brown was a back-to-back NCAA First Team All-American in 1998 and 1999. The track program has produced several All-Americans, including Brian Hyde, an Olympian and collegiate record holder in the 1500-meter run, and Ed Moran, a gold medalist in the 5000-meter run at the 2007 Pan American Games. The baseball program boasts a handful of current MLB players, including relief pitcher Bill Bray and Minnesota Twins utility infielder Brendan Harris. The football program has also produced numerous NFL players and coaches: All-Pro safety Darren Sharper, current Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, cornerback Derek Cox, kicker Steve Christie, long snapper Mike Leach, Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback Lang Campbell, wide receiver Dominique Thompson, Pro Football Hall of Fame coaches Marv Levy and Lou Holtz, and Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Duffner.

In May 2006, the NCAA ruled that the athletic logo, which includes two green and gold feathers, could create an environment that is offensive to the American Indian community. The College's appeal regarding the use of the institution’s athletic logo to the NCAA Executive Committee was rejected. The "Tribe" nickname, by itself, was found to be neither hostile nor abusive, but rather communicates ennobling sentiments of commitment, shared idealism, community and common cause.[84] The College stated it would phase out the use of the two feathers by the fall of 2007, although they can still be seen prominently painted on streets throughout the campus.[85] Some students[citation needed] have vowed to display the prior logo on their own at NCAA post-season games. A new design was unveiled in December 2007.

For a short time, the College's unofficial mascot was a green and gold frog (though it was commonly referred to on campus simply as an 'amorphous green blob') called "Colonel Ebirt" ("Tribe" backwards), which was discontinued in 2005.[86] Prior to that, two students, one male, one female, dressed in buckskins. The female was referred to as Pocohontas, while the male was usually referred to as "tribe guy." The practice ended around 1991.[citation needed] Subsequently, a selection process was conducted to select the College's new mascot. In December 2009, five finalists – including a Griffin, King and Queen, the Phoenix, a Pug and the Wren – were announced from more than 800 submissions.[87] On April 6, 2010, President Taylor Reveley announced that the College has selected the Griffin as its new mascot.[88]


William & Mary has produced a large number of distinguished alumni including U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, and James Monroe; key figures in American history Peyton Randolph, Fulwar Skipwith, Henry Clay and Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall; Massachusetts Institute of Technology founder William Barton Rogers; U.S. Military General Winfield Scott; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning, football Hall-of-Famer Lou Creekmur, and New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper; major league baseball players Will Rhymes, Chris Ray, Brendan Harris, Bill Bray, Vic Raschi and Curtis Pride; entertainers Glenn Close, Scott Glenn, Linda Lavin, Patton Oswalt and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart; creator and writer of Scrubs and Spin City, Bill Lawrence; fashion designer Perry Ellis; founder and chairman of Legg Mason Raymond A. "Chip" Mason; Willis Group Holdings CEO Joe Plumeri; sports management pioneer Mark McCormack; U.S. Representative and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann; Cabinet officials Robert Gates (22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense) and Christina Romer (former Chairwoman, Council of Economic Advisors); and General David McKiernan (Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan); and NASA astronaut David M. Brown.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (Class of 1965)
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin (Class of 1995)
Former Chair of U.S. Council of Economic Advisors Christina Romer (Class of 1981)
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart (Class of 1984)
NASA astronaut David M. Brown (Class of 1978)

Commencement speakers

Commencement speakers at the College of William and Mary have included a variety of individuals, including alumni, presidents of the College, students, professors, politicians, journalists, entertainers, and royalty, among others.[89]

References and footnotes

  1. ^ About William and Mary | About W&M
  2. ^ The College gives its founding date as 1693, but has not operated continuously since that time, having closed at two separate periods, 1861–1869 and 1882–1888 (see Post-colonial history).
  3. ^ William & Mary – President's Report 2011. Accessed November 8, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Ukman, Jason (September 6, 2011). "Gates takes chancellor’s post at William and Mary". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  5. ^ Office of the Provost. Retrieved on December 11, 2009.
  6. ^ Two Surprising Gay Pick-ups. Retrieved on July 9, 2011.
  7. ^ W&M at a Glance. Accessed August 1, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Common Data Set, 2008–2009". Office of Institutional Research, College of William & Mary. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  9. ^ William & Mary Men's Basketball Media Guide 2007–08 (page 2). "Quick Facts: ...Colors: Green, Gold and Silver" Accessed July 31, 2008.
  10. ^ "Get me the Griffin: William & Mary Announces New Mascot". The College of William & Mary. April 6, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Earl Gregg Swem Library Special Collections". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  12. ^ Webster, Homer J. (1902) "Schools and Colleges in Colonial Times," The New England Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, v. XXVII, p. 374, Google Books entry
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  14. ^ "Virginia Vignettes » What Was the Brafferton School?". August 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  15. ^ Shhh! The Secret Side to the College’s Lesser Known Societies – The DoG Street Journal
  16. ^ Peeking Into Closed Societies – The Flat Hat
  17. ^ F. James Barnes, II. "William & Mary Alumni > History". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  18. ^ "1850–1899 | Historical Facts". Historical Chronology of William and Mary. Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
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  20. ^ Education: Jefferson's Heirs, TIME Magazine, February 26, 1945
  21. ^ Marilyn Kaemmerle entry at the Special Collections Research Center Wiki of the College of William & Mary website
  22. ^ Godson, et. al. (1993). The College of William and Mary: A History. King and Queen Press. ISBN 0-9615670-4-X. 
  23. ^ "Ash Lawn-Highland, Home of James Monroe". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Wren Building, College of William and Mary". National Park Service. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  25. ^ Alumni Magazine: Wren Building
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  27. ^ a b c d e "Faculty Handbook" (PDF). 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
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  29. ^ "Duties and History, Chancellor". The College of William and Mary. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Sandra Day O'Connor, Chancellor". The College of William and Mary. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
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  37. ^ William & Mary - Apply
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  62. ^ Twenty-seven degrees and counting: Kalamazoo man enjoys the 'freedom' of intellectual pursuits |
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  70. ^ Barefoot, Coy (Spring, 2008). "The Evolution of Honor: Enduring Principle, Changing Times" (– Scholar search). The University of Virginia Magazine (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Alumni Assn.) 97 (1): 22–27. Retrieved March 4, 2008. [dead link]
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  77. ^ "The Queens' Guard Homepage and Pershing Rifles Co. W-4". The College of William and Mary. Retrieved February 13, 2008. 
  78. ^ W&M a cappella council homepage
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  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^ "‘Tribe’ refers to community Nichol states in a report sent to the NCAA | University Relations". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  85. ^ "William and Mary to change athletic logo before Fall 2007 | University Relations". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  86. ^ "''Eulogy for Ebirt:'' Lessons from one of the Tribe’s great fans | University Relations". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  87. ^ William & Mary - Mascot Committee unveils five finalists
  88. ^ William & Mary - 'Get me the Griffin': William & Mary Announces New Mascot
  89. ^ "Commencement Speakers". Special Collections Research Center. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 

External links

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