Vice President of Finance, Administration Sam Jones announces retirement after 34 years at the College

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At the end of June, Vice President for Finance and Administration Sam Jones ’75, M.B.A ’80 will no longer be “monitoring the situation”. Jones, who often opened his campus-wide emergency report emails with  this refrain, announced last week to the College of William and Mary community that he plans to retire at the end of this academic year. 

Jones, who has worked for the College for 34 years, will have his position filled by Amy Sebring M.P.P. ’95, who currently serves as vice president for finance and technology. Sebring will assume the responsibilities that Jones holds under the new role of chief operating officer, which seeks to combine her current position with Jones’ position as vice president for Finance and Administration.

College President Katherine Rowe announced the transition in an email to the College community Feb. 17. In the email, she expressed gratitude for the leadership of Jones during her own transition into the presidency.

“I am also sensible of how fortunate I am to have benefited from Sam’s wisdom and warm welcome over these past two years at William & Mary,” Rowe said in an email.

During his time at the College, Jones worked under five presidents and has overseen many large-scale projects, including the construction of Alan B. Miller Hall and the Integrated Science Center. In the press release issued by the College, Rector John Littel noted the strategic leadership of Jones and his ability to center the needs of students in the face of challenges.

Despite his many accomplishments, Jones said that it was not always easy. He cited the fluctuations in state financial support for the College as one of his biggest challenges during his career.

“The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty of state support,” Jones said in an email. “When the state’s economy is strong, the Commonwealth provides significant operating support. However, when there is an economic downturn, we usually lose some portion of state funding. As a result, long-term planning can be challenged.”

“The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty of state support,” Jones said in an email. “When the state’s economy is strong, the Commonwealth provides significant operating support. However, when there is an economic downturn, we usually lose some portion of state funding. As a result, long-term planning can be challenged.”

Jones began at the College as a student, which he said informed his decision-making as an administrator.

“Having been both an undergraduate as well a graduate student made it easy to remember that, in the end, what we do is ‘all about the student,’” Jones said. “Being a first-generation college student, and receiving financial aid, made me appreciate the value of student aid and the private donors that support our students.”

Jones has experienced many transitions in the College’s administration himself, during which he said he maintained continuity above all else.

“I have been fortunate to work under exceptional leaders at William & Mary,” Jones said. “I  learned early on that even when there was change at the top, the best thing to do was to keep doing my job to the best of my ability. Ultimately that will be recognized.”

“I have been fortunate to work under exceptional leaders at William & Mary,” Jones said. “I  learned early on that even when there was change at the top, the best thing to do was to keep doing my job to the best of my ability. Ultimately that will be recognized.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 touched upon Jones’s success throughout his career at the College.

“Throughout the course of his career, Sam Jones has shown great care and concern for students and their welfare,” Ambler said in an email. “Whether he’s setting budget priorities for the university, overseeing major construction projects, or attending to campus safety, VP Jones regularly focuses on what is in the best interest of students. He and VP Amy Sebring have worked very closely over the last several years, so I anticipate a smooth transition as his retirement date nears.”

Ambler said that the biggest project Sebring will pick up is the Sadler West Addition construction project, which is projected to be completed in Fall 2022. Ambler and Jones are currently co-chairs of the building committee.

“It’s hard for me to imagine W&M without Sam Jones in a key leadership role,” Ambler said. “Working with him has been a privilege and he’s taught me a great deal. Though much of his work may not be immediately apparent to students, Mr. Jones has been a driving force in creating the W&M students see and experience today. Students should know that they have always had a steadfast champion in Sam Jones.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine W&M without Sam Jones in a key leadership role,” Ambler said. “Working with him has been a privilege and he’s taught me a great deal. Though much of his work may not be immediately apparent to students, Mr. Jones has been a driving force in creating the W&M students see and experience today. Students should know that they have always had a steadfast champion in Sam Jones.”

In her email to students and faculty, Rowe explained the consolidation of roles and introduced Sebring as assuming the new role of Chief Operating Officer.

“Four years ago, Amy Sebring was selected in a national search as Sam Jones’s eventual successor — with a view to the continuity that a gradual transition in this essential role would provide. She has proved a trusted and effective leader,” Rowe said.

Sebring has been a part of the College’s administration since 2016. Under her new role, she will oversee the strategic management of the College’s finances. According to the College’s press release, this includes the areas of auxiliary services, emergency management and public safety, facilities, finance, human resources, information technology, risk management and compliance.  

“The structure streamlines administrative operations under a single, cohesive team under one executive,” Sebring said in an email. “In so doing, it will allow us to work in a coordinated fashion to ensure that William & Mary is an exceptional place to live, learn, work and flourish.”

Sebring expressed a willingness to work with all members of the College community to ensure a smooth transition and a successful start.

“Having been at William & Mary for four years in my current role, I have the advantage of starting with a foundational understanding of the people, places, and programs that make this university special,” Sebring said. “As I transition into the new role, I will be spending time listening to the campus community to validate and expand my current understanding and to partner with academic leaders to advance organizational sustainability and excellence.”

Jones currently chairs the College’s Emergency Management Team, which responds to campus emergencies and unexpected situations. Students have heard from Jones in his recent emails concerning coronavirus updates and weather advisories. Sebring will be taking on this role, along with many others, when Jones departs in June.

Beyond her tasks relating to human resources and emergency management, Sebring indicated that she has a broader vision for the position as it pertains to the College’s strategic planning for the coming years.

“William & Mary is at a pivotal moment as it establishes its strategic direction for the next decade,” Sebring said. “To effectively support our students, faculty and staff, we will need to match the level of excellence we expect in teaching, learning, and research with excellence across all university operations.”

Both Sebring and Jones share   the common sentiment that the exceptional students, faculty and staff make the College a special place to work.

“William & Mary is an exceptional place made exceptional by its people,” Jones said.

“William & Mary is an exceptional place made exceptional by its people,” Jones said. 

Jones said he plans to remain in Virginia for his retirement and continue a life of service.

“Going forward my wife and I have fallen in love with the Eastern Shore of Virginia and plan on spending much time there,” Jones said. “We will look for opportunities to serve that area in some fashion even as we walk the beach and Town of Cape Charles.”