Meet Katherine Rowe: the first woman to lead William & Mary

Womens History

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — As William & Mary celebrates 100 years of co-ed students — it’s only fitting for the university to have a woman at the helm.

We were one of the first public institutions to become co-ed in the Commonwealth and the legacy of those pioneers is felt very powerfully on this campus this year, said Katherine Rowe, president of William & Mary.

At this institution with hundreds of years of history, Rowe is the first woman to hold the position.

She describes herself as a scholar, an entrepreneur, and an athlete — recognizing the constantly evolving world and workplace in 2019.

All of our students are going to be citizens and professionals in a world that’s rapidly changing, Rowe said.

In this evolving world, Rowe wants students at William & Mary to prepare accordingly.

“The regions that will succeed will be the ones that have exceptional citizens and professionals, said Rowe. 

“And we know that William & Mary creates a path into those changing lives. The rapid changing of technology that we embrace here and with that an understanding of history, an understanding of values, [and] an understanding of community.

With the announcement of a sizeable Amazon footprint coming to Northern Virginia — Rowe sees opportunity there for both internships and jobs after graduation. 

Amy Simpson reports for 8News' Celebrating Women: Women's History special

“We need to be thinking about what do we do with that alignment next, Rowe said.

“What’s coming down the pike, where can we take that sense of shared interest and move forward beyond the wonderful success of bringing Amazon here.

With dozens of options for higher education in the Commonwealth — Rowe wants families to keep “The Tribe” in mind as they decide next steps for students.

“We care about bringing the most talented students here and creating the opportunity for them to transform themselves and forge those new pioneering careers, Rowe explains.

Now 100 years after admitting it’s first women — William & Mary reports 58 percent of its student body is female.

Just as many colleges inquire applications about future plans — President Rowe didn’t miss a beat when asked where she sees herself in five years.

“Right here, she said. “Yes, I see myself in five years right here.

But President Rowe isn’t the only female leader at this division one school.

William & Mary’s athletic department is also led by a woman.

Samantha Huge is in her second year as the Director of Athletics. 

She is the first woman to oversee an entire athletic department in Virginia — as her friend Carla Williams leads the charge with athletics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. 

Huge says it’s fun to support all of her student-athletes and teams. 

“Not a day that goes by that one can’t get out and see a game or a match, said Samantha Huge, Director of Athletics.

“We have 23 programs, 500 student-athletes, and its just a joy to be around them.

Huge says her goal for the athletic department is to see teams advance and compete at the top levels of the NCAA tournament.

She also hopes student-athletes will go on to lead impactful lives after their time at William & Mary.

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