The 315-year-old College of William and Mary can make the 21st century its best yet, but it must find better ways to support itself, W. Taylor Reveley III told faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon.
Reveley, the new interim president of the College, spoke with staff and faculty in separate sessions at the University Center to listen to the groups’ concerns as the College hits the home stretch of the spring semester. Many questions centered on the College’s finances, including funding for salaries, building upgrades, diversity initiatives, and finding the necessary dollars to advance a wealth of creative ideas.
Reveley said that much was needed across the campus and though many great ideas are continually presented and pursued, most still require a good deal of funding to get off the ground.
“As I say at Easter time when thinking of the Easter rabbit, if only we could catch the rabbit carrying a couple of billion dollars in unrestricted endowment,” Reveley joked, “it would have a transforming effect. So if you see the rabbit …”
More than 200 people attended the staff forum where Reveley took a number of questions and spoke on the importance of staff to the overall success of the College.
Reveley told staff that he knew how important they were and used an analogy of a plant to describe their impact on campus. Often the faculty and students are seen as “a brilliant profusion of blossoms” at the top of the plant, but “the staff is very much the roots, the stem and the leaves that are essential to these brilliant flowers at the top,” he said. “We wouldn’t last long without the staff.”
Reveley discussed everything from the reasons behind the recent decision to move paychecks to direct deposits to his support for the possibility of a staff assembly. He also introduced the new university ombuds, Tatia Granger, who began in January and serves as a resource for classified and hourly staff with workplace issues and conflicts.
During the faculty forum, Reveley listened to concerns about building conditions, sustainability efforts, staff shortages and national reputation. Reveley said the College was working hard to get the word out that “we’re still William and Mary and we’re moving forward.”
Several attendees asked Reveley about how long he plans on remaining in his current position. Reveley, who served as dean of the William and Mary Law School for the past 10 years, said he is the interim president but that he was “not a caretaker.” He expects to be in the position for a while, he said, so the College has an opportunity to make the progress needed “to attract someone of extraordinary caliber who will stay for a long time.”
On lighter topics, Reveley said that he has already “taken the Santa Claus vow” and has his own Santa suit to wear for the annual Yule Log ceremony in December. When someone asked the new president why he was so admired at the law school, several of his former employees stood to testify to his effectiveness.
“You are in really great hands,” said one law-school staff member. “You do have the best person possible to lead the school in these times.”