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Michael Powell elected rector of College

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Michael K. Powell, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been unanimously elected Rector of the College of William and Mary. A member of William and Mary’s class of 1985 and the recipient of an honorary doctorate of public service in 2002, Powell is the first African-American to serve in the post in the college’s 313-year history.

He will serve out the 13 remaining months of the term of Rector Susan Aheron Magill, who has resigned her post effective May 15, 2006. Because Powell is currently serving as Vice Rector, his election necessitated an election for the post he will be vacating. Henry C. Wolf of Norfolk, Va., was elected Vice Rector, and Suzann W. Matthews will continue to serve as Secretary of the board. The rector serves as chair of the college Board of Visitors.

“Nationally, Michael Powell is recognized for his vision and public service. Here at his alma mater, Michael is known for his dedication to William and Mary and his commitment to strengthen our academic and research programs. We’re fortunate that he is willing to undertake the responsibilities of board leadership at this critical time in our history,” said President Gene R. Nichol.

Following the election, Powell spoke to his colleagues on the board: “This is so deeply meaningful to me because it is the culmination of a long journey that has seemed to last most of my life,” said Powell, shortly after his election. “William and Mary is the source of my values; it gave me the foundation to be in a position to hold such an esteemed position. It’s also a journey that gave me my wife and children. This may help you understand why I am so moved.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree in government at William and Mary, Powell served in the U. S. Army as an officer in the 3/2 Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany. When a serious accident cut short his military career, he completed a law degree at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D. C. While at Georgetown, he served as executive director of the Moot Court Board, won the dean’s award for outstanding contributions to the law center and captured the Beaudry Cup Moot Court Competition.

After serving in the Office of the U. S. Secretary of Defense as a policy advisor on the U. S.-Japan security relationship, he was judicial clerk to Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards of the U. S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. For two years, he was an associate in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington.

In 1996, he was appointed senior advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust in the U. S. Department of Justice, where he supervised policy development, criminal and civil investigations and mergers.

In 1997, Powell was appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve as a Republican member of the five-member Federal Communication Commission (FCC), and President George W. Bush designated Powell as Chairman of the group in 2001. The FCC is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. It is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in a jurisdiction covering the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

During his seven years on the FCC, Powell championed decency in broadcasting and deregulatory efforts designed to stimulate the development of new communication technologies. He stepped down from his post in March 2005, and is presently chairman of the MK Powell Group, LLC, a consultancy focused on investment and strategic advice in the areas of technology, media and communications.
Powell serves on the board of the Rand Corporation and is a trustee of the American Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial. He is married to Jane Knott Powell. They live with their two children, Jeffrey and Bryan, in Fairfax Station, Va.

Wolf received his B.A. in economics in 1964 from William and Mary; J.D. in 1966 from the William and Mary School of Law; M.B.A. in 1970 from Louisiana State University; and LL.M. in 1973 from Georgetown University School of Law. In 1992 he attended the Harvard Advanced Management Program. He is Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation. He was appointed to the board in 2003. Currently he serves as Chair of the Committee on Financial Affairs and is a member of the executive committee.

Suzann Matthews, who continues to serve as Secretary to the board, was appointed to the Board of Visitors in 2002 and is currently Chair of the Committee on Student Affairs. She is the retired co-founder of Peter F. Matthews, Inc., an international funds management company. Matthews is on the board of directors of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, William and Mary National Campaign Steering Committee, Fund for William and Mary and the Conference of Advisory Board Chairs. She is a resident of McLean, Va.

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