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William & Mary names first female president

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Photo courtesy College of William & Mary.

The College of William & Mary said Tuesday it has selected its first woman president. Katherine A. Rowe will succeed retiring president W. Taylor Reveley III on July 1.

Rowe is provost at Smith College in Massachusetts, one of most prestigious women’s colleges in the United States. 

As provost and dean of the faculty at Smith College, Rowe leads a nine-person senior team managing more than 600 employees. She has also served as Smith’s interim vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity.     

Rowe earned a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from Carleton College and a master’s and doctoral degree in English and American literature from Harvard. Her areas of research include Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Medieval and Renaissance drama,and media history.

Rowe has also been responsible for navigating a period of rapid retirement and hiring of faculty at Smith College, crafting a strategic plan to reshape the faculty along with the curriculum. The result was almost 30 academic new hires at Smith, roughly 45 percent of them scholars of color, representing the largest cohort of under-represented faculty hired in the college’s history. She has also been recognized for her commitment to underrepresented students.

Before coming to Smith, Rowe spent 16 years at Bryn Mawr College as an English professor, department chair and director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center for leadership and public engagement

Rowe also is co-founder and CEO of Luminary Digital Media, which reimagined classic Shakespearean texts for interactive reading apps.

Outside of work, Rowe has spent more than a decade coaching Ultimate Frisbee and has led many teams to state championships in Pennsylvania. She was a World Ultimate Club Finalist and a Women’s Nationals Finalist. She also co-founded the nonprofit Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance and the Carleton College women’s Ultimate team.

Rowe is married to Bruce Jacobson and has two adult children, Daniel and Beah.

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