William & Mary President Acknowledges “Regret” over Press Release Copying

William & Mary University President Katherine A. Rowe sent an email to the “campus community” on Wednesday addressing the school’s copying of portions of a press release used to announce the cut of 7 athletics teams.

A side-by-side comparison between William & Mary’s announcement and one released earlier in the summer by Stanford to announce its own cuts shows that a huge portion of the ‘filler’ information – that is, information not specific to William & Mary like the number of CAA titles they’ve won or the number of varsity programs sponsored – was copied verbatim from the Stanford release.

The original announcement by William & Mary was signed by athletics director Samantha K. Huge, Rowe, and William & Mary Provost Peggy Agouris.

Huge has acknowledged the copying, saying that she “regrets” that they didn’t meet the goal to “convey respect to those most directly affected.”

Rowe’s Letter reads, in part:

At William & Mary, we take very seriously integrity, trust, and respect. The open letter announcing these decisions did not rise to William & Mary’s standards, as Athletics Director Samantha Huge has shared, and this was a mistake.

Despite good intentions – in part because of the effort to seek best models for sharing difficult decisions – the communications process ultimately broke down. Many of the athletic departments that have eliminated sports share freely with one another in an effort to use best practices and approaches, and learn from each iteration. The main purpose of consultation was to ensure the utmost clarity and compassion in communicating very distressing news.

That said, words representing William & Mary should come from William & Mary. As president, I am accountable for the review process that should have ensured this. As the leader of our learning and research community, it is my responsibility to make certain this situation does not occur again. I want to underscore Director Huge’s earlier statement affirming integrity as paramount for the success of the university as a whole and Athletics specifically. I have expressed to Director Huge that her top priority for Athletics going forward needs to be restoring trust.

As part of that effort to ‘restore trust’ cause, she has assigned William & Mary’s former vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant tot he president General Jim Golden to work with Athletics to “help guide strategic communications in Athletics in the near term.”

“His immediate charge will be to partner with Director Huge to review Athletics communications practices, improve them, and ensure we speak to the concerns of the William & Mary Athletics community at this critical time.”

Rowe’s message about rebuilding trust comes as a lawyer representing supporters of the 3 women’s programs cut, swimming & diving, gymnastics, and volleyball, announced that he will file a preliminary legal injunction against the plan to cut the programs if those programs are not reinstated or if a Title IX compliance plan is not revealed.

The full letter can be read below:

Dear W&M students, faculty, and staff,

In recent days, a number of colleagues have asked about written communications and transparency regarding the decision on Athletics sports reductions. I write to share my reply more broadly, because the issue of concern – repeating language from another institution’s announcement – matters to me and our community. At William & Mary, we take very seriously integrity, trust, and respect. The open letter announcing these decisions did not rise to William & Mary’s standards, as Athletics Director Samantha Huge has shared, and this was a mistake.

Despite good intentions – in part because of the effort to seek best models for sharing difficult decisions – the communications process ultimately broke down. Many of the athletic departments that have eliminated sports share freely with one another in an effort to use best practices and approaches, and learn from each iteration. The main purpose of consultation was to ensure the utmost clarity and compassion in communicating very distressing news.

That said, words representing William & Mary should come from William & Mary. As president, I am accountable for the review process that should have ensured this. As the leader of our learning and research community, it is my responsibility to make certain this situation does not occur again. I want to underscore Director Huge’s earlier statement affirming integrity as paramount for the success of the university as a whole and Athletics specifically. I have expressed to Director Huge that her top priority for Athletics going forward needs to be restoring trust.

To support that process, I have asked Gen. Jim Golden, W&M’s long-time former vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant to the president, to help guide strategic communications in Athletics in the near term. His immediate charge will be to partner with Director Huge to review Athletics communications practices, improve them, and ensure we speak to the concerns of the William & Mary Athletics community at this critical time.

My overarching goal for the whole of this very painful Athletics decision is that we move through it in a way that is respectful towards those most closely affected. Though we fell short of this aspiration this time, we remain fully committed to it going forward.

Sincerely,

– Katherine

Katherine A. Rowe

President

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Daniel Smith
1 month ago

Despicable: It is obvious the AD’s professional ethics are questionable and that individual has little, if any, understanding of professional behavior expected of faculty and staff within the academy. Needs to go ASAP, and president needs to pay better attention to what is going in in units that report to them.

Ghost
Reply to  Daniel Smith
1 month ago

Should be treated the same or stricter than if one of the students had done the same thing!

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

If you’re gonna copy a press release, at least pick one that’s not so recent.

It really does just show the absolute contempt they have for the teams they cut. Don’t care enough to even cover up their copying.

Daniel Smith
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

The numder of text checkers out there for plagiarism in higher ed is phenomenal. Easy to check that one, or any earlier releases…just scan, load those, and ask the progream to compare texts.

Daniel Smith
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Hanlon’s Razor, “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
Heck of a choice for the AD and presdient.

Alex
1 month ago

This just shows that the real world, post college, is more about finding ways to cut corners than college actually makes it sound.

Teachers copy lesson plans, businesses copy sales and marketing strategies, students copy tests that aren’t practical and all hell breaks loose.

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