Statement by Dean A. Benjamin Spencer on the future of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center

February 28, 2023

Professor Elizabeth Andrews, a guiding force in coastal policy advising and education, has announced she will step down as director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) at W&M Law School. Given that Professor Andrews’ leadership has been so vital to VCPC’s success, I have decided to close the Center, effective with her departure on June 30, 2023.

While the VCPC will be dissolved at the Law School, I am thankful for the university’s commitment and willingness to ensure William & Mary’s leadership in these areas grows even stronger. William & Mary knows what a valuable resource this policy work of VCPC has been to Virginia and future plans will build on that research and analysis.

The university administration is developing a university-wide initiative to centralize and expand its coastal resilience research, scholarship, education and advisory work. With the leadership of W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the university is developing plans to strengthen its position and role as a trusted partner to the Commonwealth of Virginia and leader in the areas of coastal policy, ecology and engagement. This aligns with the university’s water initiative, a leading commitment established as part of the W&M Vision 2026 Strategic Plan.

The decision to close VCPC this summer is not one I made lightly. I wholeheartedly thank Professor Andrews and her team at VCPC for their contributions to our Law School community, to the university and to coastal policy throughout the Commonwealth. The Center has provided critical, science-based legal and policy analysis of ecological issues affecting coastal resources, offering education and advice to a host of Virginia’s decision-makers, from government officials and legal scholars to non-profit and business leaders. Professor Andrews’ legacy will be evident especially for those of us who live in Virginia and can enjoy the benefits of sound coastal policy.

Updates will follow in the coming weeks from the university. In the meantime, please join me in thanking Professor Andrews and the VCPC team. We will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition as the Center concludes its operations in the coming months.

A. Benjamin Spencer
Dean and Trustee Professor
William & Mary Law School