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Charter Day, 2012

W. Taylor Reveley, III
February 3, 2012

We’re near the end, everyone. Let your hearts be at rest! I have only few closing words. Then we all have a cheer for the alma mater of the nation, followed by a rousing rendition of happy birthday.

Thomas Jefferson completed his studies at William & Mary in April 1762 after studying intensely with his great professor, William Small. Then Jefferson remained in Williamsburg to pursue a legal education under his equally great teacher, George Wythe, who later created the country’s first law school at William & Mary. To revisit my favorite quote from Jefferson’s biographer, Dumas Malone, “our continent has provided no greater seedbed of greatness than the one square mile of this old colonial capital, and no American institution of learning has ever surpassed the record of this little College, in Jefferson’s generation, as a nursery of statesmen.” When Jefferson left William & Mary in 1762, the College was already 69 years old.

Fast forward 250 years to today, and William & Mary, on its 319th birthday, has become one of the most time-tested and acclaimed institutions of higher education in America and one of the most prolific producers of graduates devoted to the good of their communities, states and nation.

William & Mary’s deep roots in American history, coupled with its striking contemporary accomplishments and powerful forward momentum, make a dynamite combination. This is to say, when you mate being one of the very first colleges in North America, and having been present at the creation of our country, with the dynamism of vibrant success in our time, you get an institution of enormous power and promise. William & Mary really is quite something. It’s iconic.

Time to cheer the alma mater of the nation!

An otherwise staid pastor, two centuries ago, suggested, “In things pertaining to enthusiasm, no man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions.”

This is a proper occasion for us to bounce off the wall for a moment. I’m going to propose a cheer for William & Mary on its 319th birthday, and then we all should cry loudly– 319 three times.

Friends, let’s join in a resounding cheer to celebrate the 319th birthday of the iconic College of William & Mary.

No birthday is complete without singing Happy Birthday. Double Take will now do this deed.

This year, in addition to the tradition of Charter Day pins to wear on your graduation robes, students are invited to leave their mark by signing a 2012 Charter Day scroll. These scrolls will be placed in our University Archives for all time coming. Pins and scrolls can be found near the ticket window on the Commons Side of this hall as you leave.

Now let’s stand for the Alma Mater. During the recessional, audience please stay where you are until the official party has made good its retreat. The Alma Mater is wonderful to hear but even better when collectively sung. So, let’s belt it out!

A very happy Charter Day 2012 to us all!