The sound of the bell filled the halls of the Sir Christopher Wren Building, travelling through the hallway gallery of former presidents of the College of William and Mary. Twenty-six times the bell tolled for the leaders of William and Mary’s past, but the 27th time it rang out for the man who is now officially its present and future.
W. Taylor Reveley III, who has served as the College’s interim president since Feb. 12, was sworn in as the president of William and Mary during a ceremony Friday in the Wren Building’s Great Hall.
“Just as I have not been merely a caretaker while interim president, neither will I be simply a transitional president during the next few years,” said Reveley. “I will do my level best to make a serious difference for the better at the College of William and Mary as its 27th president.”
Rector Michael K. Powell announced the appointment to the crowded room of about 90 students, faculty, staff and community leaders. Just before the announcement, members of the Board had gathered in the Wren Building’s historic Blue Room to officially adopt a resolution naming Reveley the College’s president. As is tradition, the Wren Bell then signaled to campus that a new leader had been selected.
“I believe that Taylor Reveley needs your support. I believe he deserves your support, and -- the thing I think that endears him to us most -- he understands that going forward he has to earn your support,” Powell told the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to introduce you to the 27th president of the College of William and Mary, Taylor Reveley.”
With his wife Helen at his side and three children looking on, Reveley was sworn into office by the Honorable J.R. Zepkin, a retired 9th Judicial District judge and adjunct professor at the William and Mary School of Law. Reveley was sworn in on a Bible that once belonged to the daughter of U.S. President James Monroe, who attended the College from 1774 to 1776. The Bible, which contains genealogical notations in the hand of the fifth president, is from the Special Collections Research Center at the Swem Library.
After much applause, Reveley addressed the crowd, thanking those who supported him during his time as the interim president and remarking on the responsibility embrace.
“The story of the College of William & Mary is the story of our country, beginning almost 100 years before its founding and continuing powerfully into the 21st century,” he said. “Over the centuries, William and Mary has survived the scourge of wars and the ravages of economic loss. It has come to stand among the most academically distinguished institutions of higher education in the United States. It also stands among the most historically storied American institutions of any sort. William and Mary is, as well, among the universities with the greatest natural and architectural beauty. To be among its leaders is to be aware of the enormous responsibility of our stewardship for this remarkable place.”
Following the ceremony, many attendees remarked on their happiness with the new president.
“I think that since Taylor Reveley has taken over as the interim president of the College of William and Mary, he has done marvelous outreach to the community and the city, and I can say that I don’t think our relations have ever been better,” said Jeanne Zeidler, mayor of Williamsburg. “I think we all understand that the city and the College are in this together and we need to work together hand-in-hand, and it’s really wonderful to have a president who understands that and is doing his part.”
Valerie Hopkins, a senior and the president of the Student Assembly, said Reveley has already done well as the interim president, and she looks forward to what he will do in the next few years.
“I think that President Reveley has already done a phenomenal job of not only running the university but really endearing himself to students,” she said. “I think there’s been an overwhelming positive response to him, and I think he’s going to be great.”
L. Clifford Schroeder, Sr., chair of the College of William & Mary Foundation, said he thinks the morning’s announcement “demonstrates that William and Mary -- as it has for 300 years -- produces the right people at the right time as we have the need,” he said. “This is a perfect pick today.”
Colin Campbell, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and a recent appointee to the College’s Board of Visitors said that it was a “great thrill” to have been part of the decision that put Reveley into office.
“He’ll be great for the College,” said Campbell. “He’s a hard worker. He’s a serious intellect. He loves the place, and I think he’s just going to be wonderful.”
Sen. Tommy Norment (R-3rd), said he has always addressed Reveley without the word interim in his title “just because of the stability of his leadership his ability to calm the storms on campus.”
“His work ethic is incredible, and I think that anyone who is aware of what he had done over at the law school could not help but to expect levels of excellence with him serving in this capacity as president,” said Norment. “This is a fabulous day and it starts a new chapter at the College of William and Mary, which I think we are all are just going to be delighted with.”