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Chuck Bailey
Chuck Bailey

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Professor, Geology

Half a Hundred = A Good Time

November 8, 2011 by

William & Mary’s Geology Department turned 50 years old in 2011.  We celebrated the half a hundred mark with a weekend wingding on campus and in the field.  Nearly one hundred alums were in attendance and by my reckoning a good time was had by all.

Founded in 1961, the Geology department has graduated nearly 800 majors.  The feté brought together many of these alums from across the decades, current students, departmental friends, emeriti faculty, and present-day faculty.  The crowd arrived in the department on Friday night for a voluble reception.


On the Outcrop

Assembled at the outcrop along the Falls of the James River, Richmond.


On Saturday morning we rolled westward to the Falls of the James in Richmond for a field trip dedicated to former Professor Bruce Goodwin, who introduced legions of W&M students to this exceptional exposure of granite and its erosive fluvial features.  We remembered Bruce and then cast our eyes towards the rock and riverbed to understand the geologic history of the Fall Zone.  The banter on the outcrop was rich.


Hope Huntington, Christine Turner, and Trudy Phelps (class of 1971) on the field trip.

Watch video snippets of the field trip

Back on campus that evening, participants exchanged their fleeces and boots for more upscale fashion at the banquet.  As department chair the master of ceremony duties fell to me.  I recounted a departmental history (although, I must admit, strict historical accuracy was tossed under the bus).  Other speakers recollected past adventures and made a strong case for why the department has been a vibrant community for 50 years.


young guys

Recent alums enjoying the banquet.


For me the weekend will be among the most memorable and satisfying I’ve had in my fifteen years at the College.  To see so many students, former faculty, and friends was special.  We won’t wait another 50 years for another celebration!


  • Emily Gercke says:

    Chuck, you got a new jacket! I barely recognized you in a different colored R2. Glad the 50 year celebration went well. Sad to have missed it!

  • Portia Formento says:

    I was so sad to miss this! It was fun to look through all the pictures, definitely please don’t wait another 50 years :)

    Best to the department!!

  • Michael Gibson says:

    I, too, am very sad to have missed the milestone event! I had a field trip I was leading at the same time, so my “field heart” was on. We have such an awesome legacy…thanks to all the professors over the years!