William and Mary

Charter Day

Reflections on the W&M Charter and a Charge to the Class of 2015

March 4, 2014 by

In this blog entry, Kendall Lorenzen, a junior at W&M serves as guest blogger. Below is the script from the speech she gave at the annual Junior Ring Ceremony.

I love everything that the Charter of the College of William & Mary represents. It is our origin story. It is our connection. It is the document that spurred the 321 year long chain of events that have brought us here together today.

It is in a word—astounding. However I will say looking at the 321 year old script of the Charter initially I couldn’t help but be amazed for a slightly different reason. The Charter began so incredibly simple.

Our Charter lays out the foundation for a university with one President, six professors, and one hundred students more or less. I can’t help but wonder what King William and Queen Mary would think after seeing our campus today. What we have today, THIS was not even a dream in 1693. The College had humble beginnings.

This makes me think of our first experiences here at William & Mary. Our first walk through Wren together as a class, our first forced mixer with another hall, our hurrication. I think about the expectations I had as I stood with strangers waiting to get the key to my room in Jefferson—the strangers that I now consider great friends.

I thought all I would be getting from my fours at William & Mary would be an education. But looking back today-I already know I have gotten so much more than that. I came into William & Mary with humble expectations. But being here with you all has taught me so much more than what I could ever have learned in a classroom. Coming into college I knew I could study, but I didn’t think I could really do anything more than that. But here, from you I learned I had the ability to make a difference and to inspire those around me.

Being here has taught me how powerful we all have the potential to be just by being in each others lives. At William & Mary, we have the most incredible people around us. Sitting next to us in lecture, living right down the hall, or even in the very same room. What defines William & Mary is not just the acceptance of the individual, but the celebration of the individual. We have the ability to be phenomenal leaders and WE have inspiration all around us and within us. How many of you have been inspired by someone in this room or here at the College? And how many of you have told them that?

We all have incredible power. If you do not know how inspiring you are or that you have an amazing ability to make positive change, just think about all of the people who didn’t raise their hands. William & Mary has amazing professors, research opportunities, but perhaps the best thing about William & Mary is that it has brought us together so that we can be inspired by one another and go out into the world and community to do unbelievable things.
I have a lot of goals for the remainder of my time here at the College, but at the top of my list is to be engaged everyday; in my classes, with my peers, and with everything I do—because when I came into college I knew how to study. We all knew how to study, but by being engaged we have the ability to truly learn from all the fantastic people around us. It is a simple idea. But by engaging in these William & Mary networks, like the Class of 2015, we have become a part of something great. Just as the alumni before us have learned, we have the ability to innovate and inspire.

Looking back at the Charter today and looking back at those initial moments when we first came to the College, I see that nothing was ever really simple. It was innovative. It was the start of something that neither we nor King William and Queen Mary could have ever imagined. We are connected now and forever to something great that will always be bigger than ourselves. Look at the rings now that you have just received. Let the rings serve as a reminder of each other and the tradition of service that we will always be bound to. All you can really do going into our last three semesters is to embrace your strengths and live authentically. Never underestimate the power of a thank you or the power of telling a classmate just how incredible they are. And I want to tell you all here today—you are amazing and I can’t wait to see the things you do in your final semesters at the College and in the world.


February 28, 2014 by

Let’s break it down.

3 – People in my family that attended William & Mary before I did. Their tradition and legacy precede me. Walking across the patio at the Alumni House, you can see their names in a singular brick. How metaphoric. A collection of bricks with names that make a whole patio. Kind of like a collection of people who make up the traditions that make W&M home.

2 – People who have worn my class ring. My mama graduated in 1984. I will graduate in 2014. 30 years, 2 children, a dog, 3 cats and a lot of time transporting to and from sports camps have elapsed in the time that my mama wore this ring. And now it’s mine. In another 30 years, what will we say about this ring?

1 – home. I have had exactly one address my whole life. And that means home to me. Home truly is where the heart is. And mine is here. At William & Mary.

321 – Happy 321st birthday to you, William & Mary. Your charter and legacy have lasted 321 years. You’ve been witness to this country’s history. Front row seats even. You’ve been home to 4 presidents. You’ve converted to hospitals for the Confederate Army. You’ve produced leaders like Robert Gates, Glenn Close, Jon Stewart, Mike Tomlin and David Brown. You’ve produced people I know and look up to. So here’s to you William & Mary. Here’s to another 321 years. You are loved of old.

- Kelley Quinzio

Happy Charter Day!

February 28, 2014 by

Robert Gates ’65 signing his bestselling book Duty, a Wiz Khalifa concert, a speech by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and an alumni medallion awarded to current FBI director James Comey ’82. What is the occasion for all of these events you may ask?

The answer is: Charter Day.

Charter Day is when we celebrate King William and Queen Mary signing the royal charter to establish the College of William & Mary in Virginia. February 8, 2014 marked the College’s 321st year of existence and allows the W&M community to come together and celebrate over three centuries of academic excellence and prestige. Charter Day makes us all think about what it really means to be a member of the tribe and the legacy of innovation and achievement that each of us, as students of the College, are obliged to uphold. The coming together of students, faculty and alumni over Charter Day weekend epitomizes why I love this institution that continues to cultivate the greatest minds in the world.

Historically significant, yet paving the way for the future, William & Mary truly is the alma mater of a nation. Happy Birthday William & Mary, you’ve never looked better.

Check out this video for a taste of what Charter Day is all about:

- Mark Bland

Happy Birthday to You

February 27, 2014 by

Dear William & Mary,

If you could talk, I imagine that you might say that Charter Day 2014 was the best birthday weekend yet. But William & Mary, you’ve seen a lot in your 321 years. When you were born – or, rather, chartered – England was still fighting the French in the Nine Years’ War, a religious schism had just led to the creation of the Amish church in Switzerland, and the Salem Witch Trials were just wrapping up in Massachusetts. You share your birth year with a lot of other distinguished people – including a Russian empress, a British Prime Minister, and a French composer – but it’s safe to say that after over 300 years, you’ve outlived them all.

And I’ve got to say … you look good for 321. As Colonial Williamsburg’s next-door neighbor, you might be physically stuck in the past, but I’m proud to say that you’ve transitioned nicely from the 17th century to the 21st. Not many schools can boast both a royal charter AND campus wide wireless. And it takes a special mix of prestige and popularity to get wished a happy birthday by Robert Gates, Terry McAuliffe, AND Wiz Khalifa.

Happy birthday, William & Mary. Here’s to 321 more!

- Elisabeth Bloxam

Charter Day

February 27, 2014 by

February 8th, otherwise known as Charter Day, is a day that has a very significant meaning for every student here at William & Mary. However, Charter Day tends to be extra special for me because not only is it the birthday of my favorite place on Earth, but it is also my own birthday!

While W&M was turning 321 last week, I was just reaching 20. In high school, I took this little coincidence as a sign from the higher education gods that William & Mary was the place for me. However, now I tend to look at it as more of an honor. To be able to share the same birthday as the second oldest college in the USA is, frankly, mildly intimidating. We’re talking about the school that educated three [arguably four] US Presidents, founded the first Honor Code, created the first Law School, and was the birthplace of Greek Life.

That’s a big birthday shadow to live in.

The one thing that makes me confident every day is knowing that by having the chance to study at William & Mary, I’ve given myself the best kick start anyone can have, as far as I’m concerned. The sheer excellence of every single one of my professors reminds me that I’m not just sitting in my classes getting “talked at” here. I am learning and growing so much every day in a way that will actually help me succeed both academically and personally for the rest of my life.

The people I have met on this campus have been some of the most amazing and inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. No wonder William & Mary has been around for 321 years of doing what it does best, nurturing young minds to continue its legacy by being all that they can be and more. I am humbled to be able to say, even if for just a short while, that I was a part of W&M’s illustrious history, and that these brick pathways were my first true home away from home.

- Audrey Savage

Because We Care

February 20, 2014 by

On Friday, February 7th, 2014, William & Mary celebrated Charter Day, including honoring Laura Godwin ’14 with the James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership.  Laura serves on the executive board of Project Phoenix and is a fixture in the Office of Community Engagement, bringing her joy and commitment to our office and the tutor/mentor program. That’s why no one was surprised when Laura sent out this incredibly sweet and genuine email to Project Phoenix.  It was too good not to share:


I just wanted to send out this email, and tell each of you how grateful I am for you. On Friday, I stood on stage in front of way too many people and received an award that was half the size of me (no joke)…but I sincerely wished that each of you could have been on that stage with me. While Project Phoenix is just one piece of my involvement in the community, it is the one that has allowed me to work closely with other W&M students whom I love dearly. You all embody the heart and soul of what it means to serve a community, and I am in awe of each of you. We all dedicate a significant amount of time to working with our middle schoolers, and I would bet that none of us do it for the recognition; I know I don’t, and I never expected to be recognized for my work, but that would not have been possible without y’all.

I know that sometimes it seems like this program wears us out and stresses us out and drives us crazy. But at the end of the day we all stick with it because we care. I care about our middle schoolers, their well being, and their future. I care about each of you and making sure that y’all feel like you have a purpose and that we are all supporting each other inside and outside of this program. For those of you who were at the first info session we had, I went off on a little tangent about how much I enjoy working with my peers. I am not kidding when I say that I have met some of the best people while working with ProPho. Especially the executive board. I consider each of you a friend, and I am so blessed each time I get to be around y’all. Y’all inspire and encourage me and remind why we do what we do. So thank you. For absolutely everything. Y’all rock!


Charter Day…and Feelings

February 7, 2014 by

Unfortunately, this blog is not going to be about Charter Day. I’m not going to describe the excitement surrounding Robert Gates and Wiz Khalifa, or tell you about my own plans to celebrate the College. Instead, I’m just going to complain about how this upcoming Charter Day weekend will be my last – which makes me feel very depressed.

I remember my first year at William & Mary. I was incredibly nervous and intimidated because I thought everyone else was smarter than me. Thankfully, I found good friends – fast – and with their help, I was also able to build some confidence. The years went by quickly, and all of them were filled with both triumphs and challenges. I excelled in seemingly insurmountable classes, met incredibly diverse and interesting people, and realized that I could survive out in the world without my mother (well…barely). I also learned that I will never understand economics, prefer having my own space, and absolutely CANNOT work during evening hours – which inconveniences me to this day.

Obviously, I’ve learned and experienced a lot here, at William & Mary. But despite this truth, I feel neither old nor wise enough to leave this 321 year old campus. I’m not ready! For once, I’m envious of the freshmen who talk about future courses they’d like to take, or their plans for next semester. I don’t have any semesters left and it’s not fair!

Enough with the complaining. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I’ve been obsessed with this school ever since my junior year in high school – and my feelings of admiration have never ceased. William & Mary has given me so much more than a world-class education. I’ve garnered a second home. Not to mention, it looks almost surreal during spring and fall. I’m going to miss this place.

My apologies for turning a potentially happy and exhilarating blog into an excuse to be maudlin, but I really needed to express these emotions (*sniff sniff). What can I say? This Charter Day weekend is not all about fun – it’s also about feeling nostalgic and sorry for ourselves. It’s not even May and I’m already breaking at the seams.

I can only imagine what my Graduation Day blog will be like.

All I can say is, Happy Birthday William & Mary. Thanks for the memories, your incredible influence on my life, and preparing me for a world that will both challenge and amaze me.

Gigs, Gras, and Midterm Season

March 11, 2013 by

As Spring Break comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about what an intense (yet immensely satisfying) month February turned out to be.  Between Charter Day, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year AND midterms, it was definitely one of my busiest months here at W&M.


Charter Day Performance at Sadler

Charter Day Performance at Sadler


For Charter Day (that’s on February 8th!), the Student Assembly asked my jazz combo to perform during a special dinner in the Sadler Center.  Since I don’t have a meal plan this year, it was great to re-experience the dining halls (i.e. an endless soul food buffet, a sick salad bar, and ICE CREAM!)  Mainly, though, it was great to see my peers’ looks of befuddlement change to excitement as they realized their dinner would come with a serenade!


Mardi Gras on the Sunken Garden


The next week, Mardi Gras was by far the most pressing thing on my (non-academic) schedule.   In the past, I never really thought twice about Mardi Gras.  I didn’t grow up with it, I didn’t understand it—it just wasn’t on my radar.  However, I’ve recently had the pleasure of befriending a native of New Orleans, Naomi.  Between her excitement about the holiday and the bits of New Orleans’ history I’ve picked up in my Southern Cultures class, I was determined to make an effort to learn more about Mardi Gras this year.  Thus ensued a day of purple, green, and gold beads, dancing on the Sunken Garden, and (dreaming about) king cake.  Success?  I think yes.


CSO's Chinese New Year Event

CSO’s Chinese New Year Event


With February also came the Chinese New Year!  This year, W&M’s Chinese Student Organization (CSO) put on a spectacular event in PBK Hall, complete with calligraphy, dumpling making, video presentations, and a catered dinner.  The event also offered the opportunity for students to mingle with Chinese exchange and international students; I was thrilled to learn more about how the holiday is celebrated in China.


Calligraphy at CSO's Chinese New Year

Calligraphy at CSO’s Chinese New Year


The latter half of February brought with it a whirlwind of exams, papers, presentations, and obligations—in other words, it was finally midterm season (cue dramatic “dun dun dunnnnnn”).  My new home became Swem.  In fact, I was spending so much time in Swem that by the end of the month, I had established “study spots” around the library: the little nook near the Children’s Book section with the round, sunny window overlooking Andrews Hall and the courtyard, the strangely-placed desktop on the second floor that only a couple other people like to use because it’s vastly inconvenient, and another super-secret spot I will only divulge post graduation.  (But seriously, let me know if you’re curious and I’d love to share.)  I developed weird eating habits that week, too.  Lunch?  Who needs it—I’ll take a triple Americano and this bag of Cheez-its, please!

But as most things, midterm season came and went.  Looking forward, I’ve only got half a semester left at this lovely institution, and I plan on making the most of it!

What 320 Means for W&M

February 25, 2013 by

February 8th.  Known by the William & Mary community as the date the College came to be. Charter Day! On this day King William III and Queen Mary II signed the royal charter to establish the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Now it’s 2013 and we are celebrating our 320th birthday. With a speech from former CIA Director, US Secretary of Defense, and current Chancellor Robert Gates, words from President Reveley, and a concert by Gavin DeGraw, this was a big day for the College. As the only school in the United States to possess a royal charter and 320 years of history and prestige, the William & Mary community has a lot to celebrate.  As second oldest college in the United States, which isn’t too shabby, it’s the home of many firsts.  The College of William & Mary had the first Law School in the nation, was the birthplace of the Greek system, and formed the first honor code. On Charter Day, we all can see how we are part of something very special and bigger than the immediate moment. Charter Day is the day that we all ponder our strong connection to history and our traditions of the present.  It is the culmination of all the amazing traditions we have here on campus and the connection to history that defines who we are. There is no college like THE College and our existence as a public modern research university with 320 years of existence and excellence is unmatched. So for all of the current William & Mary students, all of you who were accepted early decision, and all those of you who will be accepted in a few short months, know that February 8th is already your day, and that even though you might not know it now, your home is here and we are celebrating the birth of a cultivator of the brightest minds in the past 320 years with you here in Williamsburg at the College of William & Mary.


W&M Hits the Big 320

February 25, 2013 by

At 13 you’re no longer a “kid,” at 16 you can drive, at 18 you’re an adult, at 20 you’re in your second decade and no longer an adolescent, at 21 you can drink, at 30 you cry, at 40 you wish you were 30, at 50 you celebrate, at 60 you’re golden, at 320 you get GAVIN DEGRAW.

320 years! A little mind-blowing if you ask me. Considering I’m from Williamsburg, it kind of freaks me out that these people were roaming these streets or maybe my backyard, and now we’ve paved it over and the glorious Target is here. But, then it was that time of year again. Charter Day was here! It’s the weekend that we celebrate King William’s and Queen Mary’s signing of the royal charter that established our school, a fact we still revere seeing as we are the only school in this great country that has a royal charter.

So, the way this exciting weekend panned out was like this: Friday ass the traditional reading of the charter by our chancellor, Robert Gates ’65 – yes the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, can you tell I’m an Army brat yet? – and then on Saturday, Gavin freaking DeGraw was here to perform in Kaplan Arena. I’m such a groupie and this was my fourth time seeing him – not including his divine appearances in One Tree Hill.

Traditions ooze out of the walls at William & Mary. No matter what freshman hall you get, no matter what department you choose, no matter what year you are, there are so many traditions in which you get to participate, but Charter Day is something that truly sets us apart and reminds us who we are.

So here’s to you William & Mary. Here’s to 320 more years of friendships made, traditions followed, lessons learned, and families formed. As John Mayer said, “and celebrate we will, for life is short, but sweet for certain.”