School Board

W&M’s senior VP for finance is leaving role

WILLIAMSBURG — The head of the College of William & Mary’s financial and administrative operations is retiring.

Sam Jones, the university’s senior vice president for finance and administration, is retiring from his current role at the end of June, William & Mary announced Feb. 17.

“I am humbled to have been able to work at William & Mary,” Jones said in a statement. “It is a rare opportunity that allowed me to spend my career at an institution for which I have such great affection and which gave me so much — my wife, my education, a wonderful community to raise a family, long-standing friendships, and the opportunity to work with students, faculty, staff, university leaders, donors and volunteers who share my passion and love for this university.”

Amy Sebring, the university’s vice president for finance and technology, will take on Jones’ job as chief operating officer, President Katherine Rowe said.

“Sam Jones has been a staunch and inspiring partner to five William & Mary presidents, including me,” Rowe said in a statement. “From overseeing major construction to securing our budget priorities in Richmond to leading emergency management and many business operations and initiatives, Sam has played a critical role in advancing the prosperity of this university and community. We will miss him, even as we celebrate his contributions through the spring.

“Amy Sebring promises to capably step in; she has proved a trusted and effective leader and I have enormous confidence in her vision. I am delighted she has agreed to an expanded role.”

Sebring started as William & Mary’s first chief financial officer in 2016.

VCU gets grant that will benefit CodeRVA

RICHMOND — Virginia Commonwealth University and a regional magnet high school are on the receiving end of a grant awarded by Gov. Ralph Northam.

On Feb. 17, Northam announced roughly $1.3 million in state grants to help the state implement computer science standards of learning that the Virginia Board of Education adopted in 2017. The standards are the country’s first mandatory K-12 computer science standards.

“Knowing the basics of computer science can open doors to virtually any career in our fast-growing 21st-century economy,” Northam said in a statement. “We are working to expand career-connected learning and integrate computer science into the curriculum at every grade level.

“With these grants, we have a tremendous opportunity to put today’s students on a path to developing the key computer science and coding skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.”

VCU received $124,922 to create a collaborative of staff members from the 13 school districts that make up CodeRVA, a magnet high school in Richmond, to “transform existing computer science courses into thematic online modules coupled with locally relevant and authentic student challenges, and to equip teachers with culturally responsive strategies for working with diverse students.”

The project is one of 11 that Northam announced.

“The funded projects will equip our teachers to present the content of the Computer Science Standards of Learning in the context of real-life challenges and create school-to-work partnerships to connect students with career opportunities,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane in a statement. “It is truly exciting to see school divisions, colleges and universities, and the private sector collaborate to implement the standards in ways that prepare students for postsecondary and career success.”

The new computer science standards took effect at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Engineering school at GMU plans cyber unit

FAIRFAX — George Mason University plans to open a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity engineering department.

The Northern Virginia university announced Tuesday that the Volgenau School of Engineering has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to create the Department of Cyber Security Engineering, which would be the country’s first.

“The creation of the Cyber Security Engineering Department is timely as it not only meets Mason’s overall goal to contribute to and expand tech talent in the Northern Virginia region, but is a direct response for a specific type of worker to meet the growing cybersecurity demands nationwide,” said GMU’s provost and executive vice president, S. David Wu.

The new department will be officially established March 1, according to a news release.

It will be home to the 500 undergraduate students who are already working toward degrees in cybersecurity engineering.

The new department will be led by Duminda Wijesekera, a computer science professor within the engineering school.

“This is an exciting time in Mason’s history as we are training and preparing a 21st-century workforce that will impact the world’s population,” said Ken Ball, the dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering.

The university also wants to create a master’s degree in cybersecurity engineering. That degree is pending SCHEV approval.

Funds to help Va. fight lead in drinking water

RICHMOND — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it was awarding Virginia more than $700,000 in grant funding to assist with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.

The $737,000 will go to the Department of Health, which will use it to support voluntary testing programs.

Lead in drinking water has been linked to developmental delays in children and can damage the brain, red blood cells and kidneys.

It is most often caused by lead service lines — pipes connecting a home to a water main — or lead fixtures in a home or school.

“Protecting children from exposure to lead is a priority for EPA,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “This funding will support Virginia’s efforts to detect and reduce lead in drinking water, thereby protecting children’s health at schools and elsewhere.”

— From staff and wire reports

Politics/Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers state government and education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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