Charter Day is an annual tradition that celebrates William & Mary’s founding in 1693 by royal charter. It is also an occasion to honor the contributions of some of the university’s outstanding students, alumni and faculty members.
This year, William & Mary will celebrate four 2022 award winners during its Feb. 11 Charter Day ceremony in Kaplan Arena.
- Thomas Jefferson Award: Paul Marcus, R. Hugh and Nolie Haynes Professor of Law
- Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award: Christopher J. Hein, associate professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science
- Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy: Mikayla Huffman ’22
- James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership: Cameron Lynch ’23
These award winners, along with the 2021 award winners and 2022 Plumeri Faculty Award recipients, were celebrated during a ceremony in Miller Hall, Brinkley Commons on Feb. 4.
This year’s Charter Day ceremony, which begins at 4 p.m., will mark the university’s 329th “birthday.”
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin will speak at the ceremony and will receive an honorary degree from the university, along with U.S. Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott and Howard Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, an emeritus clinical professor in the Mason School of Business, former president of the W&M Alumni Association and chair of the W&M Foundation.
“My wife and I had a lovely conversation with them about William & Mary, about higher education, about what their goals are, and truly nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to remain connected to those students,” Marcus said.
Paul Marcus has been a mainstay in the William & Mary School of Law for almost three decades, and his career as a law professor and academic leader spans more than 45 years. Throughout that time, he has stayed in touch with many of his former students, including those he met at the University of Illinois where he began his teaching career and those he taught as Dean of the University of Arizona law school. Recently, he has spoken with former students serving as state and federal judges, private and public lawyers, law professors and one recently inaugurated as a University President.
“Truly nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to remain connected to former students and to offer to give some guidance,” Marcus said. “Most of these individuals do not need much guidance but they often want to share with me and I get so much pleasure to learn of their personal and professional lives.”
As Marcus nears retirement at the end of this academic year, his colleagues and students alike are quick to mention the sense of community he has worked to instill throughout his time at William & Mary.
“I enjoyed bringing people together, and I think people responded very well to it,” he said.
Marcus is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, which is given annually to a member of the William & Mary faculty for “significant service through their personal activities, influence and leadership. It is the highest honor given by the university to a faculty member.”
“It is such a great honor,” Marcus said. “I know what the award symbolizes, and I know several of the people who have received the award in the past. It feels so good at the end of my career at William & Mary to be recognized in this way and to be in the company of such outstanding people who’ve come before me.”
Marcus is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of criminal law and criminal procedure, having authored or co-authored a dozen books in the field. Moreover, he has lectured on criminal law to U.S. state and federal judges, at law schools throughout the United States and in over 20 foreign countries.
In addition to his work in academia, Marcus has served as advisor or consultant to many federal and state bodies in all branches of government. In 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia recognized him with the Outstanding Faculty Award. He has three times been selected by graduating law students as the Teacher of the Year. In 2017-2018 he served a term as President of the Association of American Law Schools.
In retirement, he plans to continue his research in the areas of criminal conspiracy and access to justice.
“I have loved this career from the very beginning,” Marcus said. “It’s been wonderful.”
Christopher J. Hein
Christopher Hein gets it from his students every semester. When they write their evaluations of his class, the word enthusiastic is used quite often. Perhaps that explains how undergraduate enrollment quadrupled in the first four years he taught Fundamentals of Geological Oceanography.
“I think working with students, working with colleagues, working on science to me is very invigorating,” Hein said. “I derive a lot of energy from that and therefore mirror that energy back in those interactions.”
It’s why Hein pours so much of his time and effort into his job. He is internationally recognized as a scientific expert on topics ranging from beach erosion and dune management to carbon cycling and coastal change over thousands of years. His recent work has focused on the barrier islands of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a vital region of the Commonwealth that is threatened by climate change and coastal development.
Hein has authored 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in influential outlets such as Marine Geology and Nature.
Hein is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, which “recognizes a teaching member of the William & Mary community who has demonstrated, through concern as a teacher and through character and influence, the inspiration and stimulation of learning to the betterment of the individual and society as exemplified by Thomas Jefferson.”
“I dedicate a lot of time into it,” said Hein, who in 2017 was a recipient of both the VIMS Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award and the W&M Alumni Fellows Award for Teaching Excellence and in 2018 was a recipient of a Plumeri Faculty Award. “It’s about prioritization. You lose sleep thinking about course preparation, worrying about students and certainly staying up late working on grading, editing student writing and helping them improve. We all do. All good instructors do that, I’m sure.
“This award in some way, it doesn’t validate the ability; it validates the time and the value I place on teaching. I find it a nice recognition of the enormous commitment and dedication required to do that to part of my job well, and I am grateful to VIMS and William & Mary for also valuing dedication to teaching.”
Hein’s enthusiasm shines through in many ways, from his lectures to his roles as researcher and research advisor. He spends time at VIMS in Gloucester Point, on the main W&M campus and in various locales as a guest speaker.
He likes to visit his field sites, such as Chincoteague Island on the Eastern Shore, when not collecting data and samples, to explain to people living there how the land upon which they live was formed.
“For me, I really love being able to look out my window, understand the world and the landscape around me formed and then to share that with others,” Hein said.
Mikayala Huffman ’22
Huffman has followed that advice quite literally.
Through her breakthrough work in the space sciences, Huffman has racked up accomplishments and accolades. And she’s quieted many of the doubters she faced early in her career. She is motivated to provide the same support to younger students that she received from her mentors during her time at W&M.
“I’ve gone through a lot, obviously not as much as some other people, but as a female presenting person in physics especially,” Huffman said. “I thought about quitting the physics major my freshman year, and it was only after I got these mentors who showed me that you can persevere through these types of things that I decided to stick with it.
“I wasn’t in the wrong for thinking I could do space science as a woman. It’s the critics who were wrong. It really is essential for the continuation of strong research in space sciences that we bring other people into the community and pull them up into it.”
When Huffman learned she would receive the Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy, it was further confirmation of her hard work and also of how pivotal William & Mary was in helping her achieve so many of her goals in the scientific community.
“It really is a very nice thing,” Huffman said. “I think it’s representative of how close a family we are in the physics department. I know a lot of the professors on a one-on-one basis, and it’s just really amazing that they decided to nominate me.”
The Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy is awarded annually to an undergraduate student “who has demonstrated excellence in the sciences. The award honors the relationship that Mr. Jefferson enjoyed with Professor William Small, his William & Mary tutor in mathematics and natural sciences.”
Huffman’s discoveries are numerous. Her senior thesis project with Kelsi Singer, a co-investigator on the New Horizons mission that flew by Pluto several years ago, has mapped 12,000 secondary craters on the Moon and Mercury caused by ejecta from larger primary craters. From this, Huffman discovered evidence for 66 potential tertiary craters with many more expected. It was the first time tertiary craters have ever been detected on an extraterrestrial body.
“That was really just thrilling,” Huffman said. “You can theorize about things all you want, but the moment that you see actual data supporting your ideas really makes you feel accomplished as a scientist.”
As a sophomore, Huffman started working with a planetary geologist studying impact craters on Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. By analyzing crater radii and depths, she looks for signs of low viscosity layers embedded in the ice shell, which will have substantial ramifications for the Europa Clipper mission and detection of biosignatures in subsurface oceans.
In addition, Huffman interned with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team this past summer, finding new ways to determine what comets are made of.
Huffman also works as a Makerspace Student Engineer and trains other W&M students in the use of 3D printers and other makerspace tools and facilities.
“The first time you discover something in science that no one else has figured out before, that thrill is honestly intoxicating,” Huffman said. “That’s the type of passion that I need in my research, and so being on the very edge of research in new fields is exactly where I want to be.”
Cameron Lynch ’23
Through her own experiences as an immuno-compromised college student, Cameron Lynch ’23 has worked extensively to bring more awareness to the experiences and feelings of young people with disabilities.
The progress she has seen is benefit enough, but she admits to being excited to be recognized by William & Mary with the James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership, which is awarded annually to a student “who has shown sustained leadership of an unusual quality, leadership combined with initiative, character and an unfailing commitment to leveraging the assets of the William & Mary community to address the needs of our society.”
“I have enjoyed the work I’ve done in the community, because of the progress I’ve seen in those communities and the benefits I have received on a personal level,” Lynch said. “Winning this award was kind of unexpected, but it was very exciting at the same time.”
Lynch decided to speak up more in June 2020 because of the deep sense of isolation she felt during the COVID pandemic. She started a support group called Chronic and Iconic as a way for young people with disabilities to express themselves.
“When COVID hit, I kind of saw my life in a different way,” Lynch said. “I realized I needed to talk about it because I’m struggling, which means that a lot of other people must be as well.”
At William & Mary, Lynch has been active in Student Assembly as undersecretary for disabled affairs and as a founding member of the university’s Student Accessibility Services Peer Advisory Board to create a link between students and administration to make students voices heard.
She also volunteers as a confidential peer advocate through The Haven, helping support students who are survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
Furthermore, Lynch serves as the youngest-ever member of the board of directors at the disability Law Center of Virginia (dLCV) and is also working with the Youth Advisory Board on a project with James Madison University that advocates for the sexual health education of Virginia’s disabled students.
In the fall of 2020, Lynch served as a policy intern with Disability Rights UK, the lead advocacy firm that consults directly with the United Kingdom government.
“My work focuses on opening conversations, bringing to light issues so many of us with disabilities have been conditioned to keep inside,” said Lynch, a government and sociology major with a concentration in social problems, policy and justice.
“As a society, we place so much value on healthiness, and those who fall outside this norm are ostracized and excluded. Keeping these feelings of seclusion inside leads to isolation. I hope my advocacy has brought together communities and individuals who otherwise would feel out of place.”
Nathan Warters, Communications Specialist