The origins of VIMS first began in the late 1930s and in 1940, the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory was established in Gloucester Point. The lab was a joint effort between William & Mary and the Virginia Commission on Fisheries. As the program began to expand and enrollment in marine science grew, the Board of Visitors established the School of Marine Science at their May 20, 1961 meeting. During the 1962 session, the Virginia General Assembly renamed the lab the Virginia Institute of Marine Science as an independent agency with its own board of administration. In 1979, the General Assembly made the decision to reorganize VIMS administratively under William & Mary.
VIMS is one of five graduate schools of the College. The tripartite mission of VIMS is to provide research, education, and advisory service in marine science is mandated in the Code of Virginia. The main campus is located in Gloucester Point, VA, at the mouth of the York River, a major tributary and passageway to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The Eastern Shore Laboratory, in Wachapreague, VA, offers access to embayments, salt marshes, and barrier beaches. A third campus, the Kauffman Aquaculture Center on the Rappahannock River, provides access to a low-salinity environment. The Institute focuses much, but not all, of its research on coastal and estuarine systems. Approximately 500 faculty, staff, and students are engaged in marine science activities at the Institute.
Curtis Lakeman Newcombe, Director from 1940-1944
Nelson Marshall, Director from 1947-1951
William J. Hargis, Jr., Director and Dean from 1959-1981
Frank O. Perkins, acting Dean from 1981-1982, Dean and Director from 1982-1990
Dennis L. Taylor, Dean and Director from 1991-1995
Don Wright, Dean and Director from 1995-2003
John Wells, Dean and Director from 2003-present
Material in the Special Collections Research Center
- Search the SCRC Collections Database for the many references to the Virginia Institute for Marine Science and VIMS
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- Office of the President, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- Curtis L. Newcombe Scrapbooks
- Associated and Branch Campuses--Virginia Institute of Marine Science, University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary