Amy Sebring M.P.P. ’95, William & Mary’s chief operating officer, has been selected as Virginia Tech’s next executive vice president and chief operating officer, beginning Nov. 1, 2022.

In that role, Sebring will lead the university’s financial and operational enterprises, including information technology, human resources, policy and governance, and planning and facilities management.

The position builds on Sebring’s experience as chief operating officer of W&M, where she has been responsible for the strategic management of the university’s finances and has overseen multiple operational units. She also helped lead the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sebring’s last day at William & Mary will be Oct. 11. Within the next two weeks, W&M President Katherine A. Rowe will launch a national search for her successor, with the goal of appointing W&M’s next COO in the new year. Associate Vice President for Business Services and Organizational Excellence Jackie Ferree will serve as interim chief operating officer during the transition.

“Amy Sebring is the type of leader every university seeks: wise and forward-thinking. She stewards resources with integrity, skill and unfailing commitment to the mission of higher education,” said Rowe. “She supported the William & Mary community to keep teaching and learning, keep working and keep our students on track to their degrees through unprecedented disruptions. She departs a W&M that is stronger in every way for her leadership. Virginia Tech is fortunate to have secured such a talented and caring public servant.

“I am grateful to Jackie Ferree, associate vice president, business services and organizational excellence, for her willingness to serve as interim COO while we conduct the search for Ms. Sebring’s successor. Ms. Ferree brings long experience in financial and operational management, and her knowledge of W&M will allow us to maintain the momentum that Ms. Sebring has helped to build.”

Sebring started working at William & Mary in 2016 as the university’s first chief financial officer and became vice president for finance and technology in 2018. In those roles, she was charged with providing direction and leadership for the university’s budget, financial operations and procurement.

In 2020, she was named chief operating officer and was given responsibility not only for the university’s finances, but also for a consolidated group of areas that now includes auxiliary services, emergency management and public safety, facilities, finance, government relations, human resources, information technology, risk management and compliance, and sustainability.

“William & Mary has been such an exceptional chapter in my professional career, and I am so thankful for the partnerships and friendships I have developed over the past seven years,” Sebring said. “As William & Mary looks to fulfill Vision 2026, it is well-positioned because of our extraordinary people and their commitment to the success of our students.

“The strong, capable teams I’ve had the privilege to lead have been a powerful motivator as we evolve to excel in all dimensions of the university – academic as well as administrative. University Operations will be in good hands during the interim thanks to the strong leadership of Jackie Ferree and the amazingly talented teams she will oversee. I especially thank President Rowe for her friendship, partnership, guidance and the extraordinary opportunities she has presented at this university.”

Interim leadership

Like Sebring, Ferree has significant experience in higher education and finance. Prior to stepping into her current role in 2021, she served as associate dean of finance and administration at W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business for more than five years. Before that, she worked at George Washington University as managing director of finance and administration for the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences. She also became an online graduate adjunct professor at that university in 2014 and continues to teach today.

Jackie Ferree
Jackie Ferree (Courtesy photo)

Ferree’s other previous positions include director of finance and administration for Sterling Commerce and managing director of Battelle, an independent, not-for-profit organization that seeks to advance science and technology.

“We are sad to see Amy go and wish her the best for this new opportunity,” Ferree said. “She is such an amazing leader, coach and mentor. Because of her strong leadership and the strength of the team she has built, I am confident University Operations will continue to effectively benefit  the W&M community, and I look forward to serving in the interim.”

In addition to Ferree’s leadership, Virginia Ambler, vice president for student affairs and co-chair of the William & Mary Emergency Management Team, will oversee the Office of Public Safety, which includes William & Mary Police, emergency management, risk management and the Office of Environmental Health & Safety. Matthew Lambert, vice president for University Advancement and chief executive officer of the William & Mary Foundation (WMF), will also launch an immediate search for a chief financial officer for WMF, a role also held by Sebring.

Momentum and success

During her time at W&M, Sebring has worked to improve financial management across all fund sources, striving to bring increased transparency to those processes. She also renewed an effort to align employee compensation with market rates.

She oversaw the implementation of new technology to improve W&M’s business processes and helped develop a 10-year plan to revitalize housing and dining at the university. Sebring also revamped W&M’s public safety areas to integrate the police, environmental health and safety, emergency management and risk management units. Additionally, a number of major construction projects were completed during Sebring’s time at W&M, including the Sadler Center expansion, Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, the Alumni House renovation and expansion, the Busch Field team facility and the Reveley Garden.

As the university began responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sebring and Provost Peggy Agouris helped lead an in-depth review of all budget areas across the university and developed strategies to safeguard W&M’s financial health.

Sebring later was named director of W&M’s COVID-19 Response Team and chair of the university’s Public Health Advisory Team. In those positions, she led the teams that guided the university’s phased response to the pandemic, navigating an unprecedented situation in W&M’s long history with data-driven decision making.

In addition to her work as chief operating officer, Sebring has served as chief financial officer for the William & Mary Foundation since the foundation’s restructuring in 2020. 

“In her role as chief financial officer, Amy Sebring has been such a committed colleague, friend and thought partner with the William & Mary Foundation,” said Cliff Fleet ’91, M.A. ’93, J.D. ’95, M.B.A. ’95, chair of the William & Mary Foundation and president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “She’ll be missed greatly, but we know Amy will remain engaged as a dedicated alumna. She helped us navigate so many challenges and opportunities during unprecedented times. We congratulate Amy on this new, important role and look forward to following her continued success.”

A new chapter

In her role at Virginia Tech, Sebring will serve as a strategic advisor to the president on administrative, business and operational matters and will lead many of the units responsible for those areas. She will advance the use of Virginia Tech resources while also working with partners to generate new resources. In this role, she gains considerable scope and complexity. 

In addition, Sebring will be responsible for increasing efforts around professional development, recruitment and retention. She will also lead the assessment and enhancement of administrative support functions while partnering with others to advance special initiatives.

“We look forward to welcoming Amy to our university leadership team,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Her work at William & Mary demonstrates a deep understanding of the business of higher education and great expertise in supporting the teaching, research and engagement mission. With her experience in government and strong relationships in Richmond, she is a powerful advocate for higher education in the commonwealth, and her accomplishments reflect well on her distinguished  alma mater.”

Before coming to W&M, Sebring served as senior associate dean for finance and administration at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine and executive director and chief operating officer of MCV Associated Physicians.

Her other previous positions include legislative fiscal analyst for the Virginia Senate Finance Committee, finance policy director for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, budget analyst for the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget and a research associate for the Education Commission of the States.

Sebring has also held leadership positions with multiple professional organizations. She previously served as vice chair and then chair of the College of State Senior Business Officers. During her time at VCU, Sebring was chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Business Affairs.

In addition to a master’s degree in public policy from W&M, Sebring holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting from VCU.

“I have learned a great many things at William & Mary, which I’ll take with me with the intent of sharing,” Sebring said. “Not the least of which is the value of a good team. People at W&M are so dedicated, talented and good willed that it eased much of the hard work we did together. I know the type of people I want in my corner when the going gets tough – they are W&M people. I am confident that I’ll carry those connections with me into this new chapter.”

, Senior Associate Director of University News