The following story originally ran on the W&M Alumni Magazine website as an online exclusive. – Ed.

During this year’s Commencement Weekend, three champions of William & Mary were officially inducted as honorary alumni in recognition of their outstanding service, support, advocacy and commitment on behalf of the university. James R. “Jim” Golden G ’24, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.); Chet M. Thaker and the late Raymond Bernard Bowman Sr. were selected by the W&M Alumni Association Board of Directors for this distinguished award based on nominations by their peers.

“This award recognizes those who, while they did not graduate from our alma mater, are as dedicated and devoted to William & Mary as those who did,” said Matt Brandon ’92, CEO of the Alumni Association, in his remarks during the May 17 ceremony at the Alumni House. “Their passion and loyalty are inspiring, and we are grateful for their friendship and service.”

James R. “Jim” Golden, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Over the past 25 years, Golden’s work at William & Mary has spanned many areas, including strategic planning, business innovation and communications. While he was overseeing the university’s economic development, Golden’s leadership was foundational to key projects including the creation of the W&M Real Estate Foundation, the university’s expansion into New Town and the purchase of land for the current School of Education building.

As vice president of strategic initiatives, Golden worked closely with William & Mary President-Emeritus W. Taylor Reveley III HON ’18, LL.D. ’18. After Golden’s retirement in 2014, he stayed on as Reveley’s senior counselor. Golden played a key role in establishing the interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum for all students and he championed partnerships that expanded William & Mary’s national and international stature.   

Golden was recognized with the Prentis Award in 2018 for his outstanding dedication and service to William & Mary.

He currently serves as senior consultant to President Katherine A. Rowe for special projects. His guidance has been indispensable to the president in many areas, including W&M Athletics. Golden helped craft a strategic athletics plan, navigate through a difficult time of transition and ensure policy adherence and equity across men’s and women’s sports. He has also been a key player in the planning process for William & Mary’s new School of Computing, Data Sciences, and Physics

Supporting the higher education of other military veterans is a personal priority for Golden. He played a leading role in establishing William & Mary’s Veteran-to-Executive Transition program and creating a holistic experience for military and veterans at the university. In June, William & Mary will name its student veterans lounge for Golden. This space will honor his many contributions to enhancing the student veteran experience on campus.

Golden has passed on his passion for William & Mary to his daughter Heather Golden P ’24 — chief marketing officer for the university — and his granddaughter Ainsley Craddock ’24.

Chet M. Thaker

Thaker’s William & Mary journey began when he met his wife, Julie A. Dobson ’78. The couple got married and had two children who chose to go to William & Mary — Lindsey Thaker ’17 and Elliot Thaker ’19.

When Thaker’s daughter became a William & Mary student, he decided to join the Parent & Family Council, later serving as council chair from 2015-2016. He then took part in William & Mary’s For the Bold campaign, serving as a member of the D.C. Regional Campaign Committee. After his children graduated, Thaker remained a volunteer leader at the university. He joined the William & Mary Foundation Board as a trustee in 2018 and now chairs the Scholarships & Student Experience committee.

Along with his wife, Thaker has given to many areas of the university, including Swem Library, W&M Athletics and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. The couple’s generosity has established two endowments to support entrepreneurial student programs. Thanks to significant philanthropy from Thaker, Dobson and others, William & Mary’s Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement recently bolstered its financial support for student internships.

 In recognition of their giving, Thaker and Dobson have become members of the prestigious Royal Charter Society.

Thaker works tirelessly to open new doors of opportunity for William & Mary’s students. In 2019, he facilitated a $4 million commitment from UiPath, which made William & Mary the first U.S. university to provide automation software to every undergraduate business student.

Thaker is CEO of TeleBright, an expanse management company for telecom and energy organizations. His data fluency combined with his liberal arts background enable him to translate complex topics into compelling stories — a skill that has helped advance William & Mary’s culture of engagement and philanthropy. 

Raymond Bernard Bowman Sr.

For three decades, Raymond Bernard Bowman Sr. watched over the Wren Building. Known by all as the keeper of the keys, he handled the logistics of countless university, alumni and private events. On Friday, he was recognized posthumously as an honorary alumnus of the university he loved.

“He touched so many lives, and we are grateful we can remember him and formally recognize his indelible impact,” Tina Reynolds Kenny ’92, P ’24, P ’27, president of the William & Mary Alumni Association Board of Directors, said during the ceremony.

While working at the Wren, Bowman facilitated over 1,000 weddings. Regardless of how anxious the bridal party was, he was always able to reassure, to calm and to arrange the conditions for a seamless ceremony. Bowman also mentored student tour guides of the Wren, sharing his passion for history and his wealth of knowledge. Bowman’s steadfast and cheerful demeanor was a constant source of support to university presidents, alumni and students alike. 

For his outstanding service to the university, Bowman received the Duke Award in 2009 — the highest honor that a member of William & Mary’s support staff can receive.

Prior to his employment at William & Mary, Bowman served in the U.S. Army and spent time stationed in Germany. After his military service, he returned to Williamsburg and worked for more than two decades at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation before joining the university’s staff.

After Bowman passed away on July 11, 2023, his legacy was remembered and reflected upon by W&M President Katherine A. Rowe and in a piece co-written by Reveley and fellow President-Emeritus Tim Sullivan ’66.

Bowman’s widow, Rosetta Lee Bowman, and his son Raymond Bernard Bowman Jr. attended the May 17 Honorary Alumni Awards Ceremony and accepted the award. They were joined by other family members and friends.

To learn more about honorary alumni recognition and how to nominate deserving individuals, visit the Alumni Association website.