Jackie Ferree, William & Mary’s interim chief operating officer, has been named George Mason University’s senior vice president for operations and business services.
Ferree will be responsible for leading the key business operations of GMU including facilities, capital strategy and planning, information technology and auxiliary operations. The role combines many of the areas of expertise and skills Ferree has honed at W&M. She has spent her career steeped in higher education, finance and administration, business services and teaching.
“I am grateful to Ms. Ferree for her insightful leadership as Interim COO. She ensured William & Mary continued to prioritize excellence in mission-critical areas while elevating efficiency and affordability,” said W&M President Katherine A. Rowe.
“I also commend the strong leadership team in University Operations. The entire department is incredibly talented. They have pulled together seamlessly during this interim period.”
Rowe said the COO hiring process is proceeding apace and that the university aims to welcome a new COO this fall.
In the meantime, she has asked Chief of Staff Carlane Pittman-Hampton Ph.D. ’03 to join University Operations team meetings in an advisory capacity. Pittman-Hampton will ensure coordination and communication with the president and provost during the transitional period.
Ferree came to W&M in 2015 and spent more than five years as associate dean of finance and administration at W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business. She was named associate vice president for business services and organizational excellence in 2021 and stepped into the interim COO position last October. She will begin at GMU August 1.
“Being provided the opportunity to serve as the interim chief operating officer and partnering daily with the members of the Executive Leadership Team was the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that I will continue to cherish as I make this next step in my career,” Ferree said.
Before coming to W&M, Ferree worked in finance and administration at George Washington University, as well as private business Sterling Commerce and nonprofit Battelle. She has taught as an online graduate adjunct professor at GWU since 2014 and will continue to do so.
Ferree helped lead many university-wide projects while at W&M, including the comprehensive plan for housing and dining, and the public private partnership that was forged to finance it.
“Bringing this across the finish line will be a legacy I am so grateful to have been a part of,” Ferree added, crediting a core group of teammates who garnered high accolades from the state secretary of finance for their approach to the project.
Enhancing the student dining experience, and identifying and selecting a new dining provider to improve the program, was another highlight of the past year. Ferree said she was honored to help explain how operations emphasizes quality and spends wisely when using tuition and fees to contribute to the university’s investment in the academic enterprise.
Progressing from the business school into operations made an immeasurable impact on her personal and professional lives, according to Ferree.
Building the business services and organizational excellence team from the ground up by bringing four teams together — Auxiliary Services, Facilities Management, Real Estate/Strategic Space Planning and Supply Chain — and then overlaying that with Organizational Excellence and Sustainability was the most fulfilling job she has ever held, Ferree said.
“We have brought visibility that never existed before and are using data to support decision making and to tell the story of our enterprise,” Ferree said. “This work will provide years of benefit to William & Mary.”
Among her new responsibilities at George Mason will be additional operations housed in the units she is responsible for including sustainability, EagleBank Arena and the GMU Child Development Center.
Higher education, operations and business services responsibilities are her “ikigai”, or her sense of purpose, Ferree said. Her next chapter at George Mason will continue to give her the opportunity to achieve her highest personal goal each day, and continue to partner with W&M colleagues and those other institutions across the state.
“I’m excited about this new opportunity, which will combine my operational and technical expertise with financial and analytical competencies at Virginia’s largest institution,” Ferree said. “It’s also an opportunity that allows me to continue to serve the commonwealth and collaborate with my partners at William & Mary and around the state.”
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