WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WRIC/AP) – The College of William and Mary has named a woman to lead the university for the first time in its 325-year history.

“It feels great,” said Dr. Katherine Rowe, who will become the college’s 28th president. “It’s the centenary since a woman enrolled here, that’s an amazing thing to know as I step into this leadership role.”

Rowe, the current provost for Smith College in Massachusetts, will replace W. Taylor Reveley III, who is retiring this summer after 10 years. She will become the first woman to lead the country’s second-oldest college.

Rowe has served as provost and dean of the faculty at Smith since 2014, working as its chief academic officer. Her areas of research and scholarship include Shakespeare as well as Medieval and Renaissance drama and media history.

Rowe, who is also the co-founder and CEO of Luminary Digital Media, has been a leader in digital innovation of the liberal arts and transformed Smith College’s liberal arts curriculum. She also increased diversity in the faculty and broke national fundraising records for women’s colleges.

“A lot of these positions are filled by men, so it’s really exciting to know that we’re going to be getting a new perspective and a person who can stand forward that hasn’t necessarily been represented,” William and Mary student Shannon Nevadomski told 8News during a pep rally that was held for Rowe on campus Tuesday.

Dr. Rowe will begin her new role on July 1.

“Were set up for a shared purpose and you get there by listening to the considerations of the community of all of its different parts and then amplifying back was what you hear,” she said.

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