WILLIAMSBURG — Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, will speak at William & Mary’s Opening Convocation ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 in the Wren Yard.
Fleet, recognized by William & Mary as a long-time and engaged member of the W&M community, also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business.
“A four-time alumnus of William & Mary, Cliff Fleet deeply understands our community and has unique insights to share with this year’s entering class,” said William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe. “A wonderful friend of William & Mary, he is a partner and colleague to so many across the university. We are delighted he will open the academic year.”
Fleet is chair of the William & Mary Foundation and a board member of the Omohundro Institute and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. Prior to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, he served as president of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and as president and CEO of several companies, including Philip Morris USA.
“William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg have long had a close relationship, and our collaborations continue to grow. With Cliff Fleet at the helm of Colonial Williamsburg, these ties are stronger than ever. He will inspire the newest arrivals at William & Mary as we kick off the year and mark 330 years of innovation.”
Opening Convocation welcomes the university’s new students to campus and kicks off the academic year, taking place the same day that undergraduate classes begin for the fall semester.
The College highlighted its close relationship with Colonial Williamsburg in the announcement, including the Bray School Initiative, a joint effort to research and relocate the school building known today as the Bray-Digges House. The Bray School is believed to be the only remaining Colonial-era building in the country that was dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children.
In early 2023, the building will move to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area where it will be interpreted as the Bray School. The two institutions have also been collaborating with First Baptist Church of Williamsburg and the Let Freedom Ring Foundation to digitize historical documents and excavate the Nassau Street site of First Baptist Church, thought to be one of the country’s earliest Black congregations. William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg will also work together to mark the 300th anniversary of the Brafferton Indian School at W&M in 2023.
“Effective partnerships empower organizations to accomplish more together than they could individually,” said Fleet. “It is my sincere hope that the many collaborations between Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary will equip and inspire the next generation of scholars and leaders to apply the lessons of the past to their pursuit of a brighter future.”