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Remarks of W&M Rector Todd Stottlemyer

The following are remarks made by W&M Rector Todd Stottlemyer at the announcement of President's Taylor Reveley's retirement - Ed.

Thank you all for being here today in Williamsburg for an important announcement by President Reveley.

Before introducing our 27th president, I would like to reflect on his stewardship to date. I emphasize the phrase “to date” because he and we still have much to accomplish over the next 15 months.

Flash back to 2008. Things are a little bit unsettled at the Alma Mater of the Nation.

The Board of Visitors makes a critically important choice and asks Taylor Reveley, then our dean of the Law School, to become president of the College, an “interim president” in a transitional period of time. An interim president asked to stabilize the situation on campus and get things back on the rails.

The Board of Visitors then very wisely chooses to remove the “interim” label and asks Taylor to become William & Mary’s 27th president. At that point, a leader in this type of situation has a clear choice to make. Will I be a transitional leader or a transformational leader?

The default choice in most situations like this is for a former interim president to be nothing more than a transitional leader, providing incremental change at best.

Very fortunately for this great university, Taylor immediately chose to be a transformational leader.

Taylor’s accomplishments to date, again “to date” being a very important phrase, have been numerous.  We will have ample time in the future to more fully recognize all of Taylor’s many accomplishment as our leader and 27th president of William & Mary. I would like to highlight just a few of them.

Immediately upon becoming president, Taylor took up the leadership mantle to challenge his team and the Board of Visitors to develop a more sustainable financial model for William & Mary. Like with all of his major initiatives, Taylor worked the details very hard and with the Board’s active involvement came up with a bold plan. This plan, the William & Mary Promise, was adopted by the Board of Visitors and is now in its fourth year. The William & Promise’s objectives are important and reflect Taylor’s leadership and values.

The William & Mary Promise:

  • Provides important tuition predictability to in-state students and families through a four-year tuition guarantee;
  • Makes a William & Mary education more affordable for in-state students and families through enhanced financial aid;
  • Drives business innovation throughout the university to find better ways to conduct business at lower costs, putting more resources into instruction; and
  • Very importantly, provides the resources necessary to retain our faculty and staff and attract new faculty and staff to our beautiful campus.

After the Board of Visitors enacted the William & Mary Promise in April 2013, I remember walking with Taylor to the Wren Building to ring the Wren Bell to celebrate this significant accomplishment. Taylor told me it was a great day for William & Mary, and he also told me he was personally going to lead the effort to raise $1 billion for the College, which is now the goal of the For the Bold campaign.

Now in 2011, when I joined the Board of Visitors, the idea of raising $1 billion would have been met with some funny smiles on people’s faces and a simple question: Are you nuts?

But, as you know, we are well on our way to raising $1 billion and more to provide the resources to ensure institutional excellence and, very importantly, pay it forward to future generations of students, faculty and staff.

Taylor has made the $100 million fundraising year the new norm, after the College having only accomplished this one other time in the previous 300+ years of the College’s history.  Equally important, Taylor has stressed the critical importance of lifelong engagement, creating a new Office of Advancement led by Matthew Lambert and setting a goal of 40 percent annual alumni participation in gifts to the College, a level second only to the vaunted Princeton University.  More on Princeton in a moment.

While the William & Mary Promise and the For the Bold campaign are two of Taylor’s most significant initiatives and accomplishments, there are many others that I will leave for another time.

Let me close by making some personal comments about Taylor Reveley the man and the leader.

Taylor loves all of our students and cares deeply about their well-being and personal development … and, very importantly, how they will later serve their communities and our country.

After a Charter Day concert for our students at Kaplan Arena where we had a true headliner rock band perform, I was told by my daughter that the student line to greet President Reveley was much longer than the line to meet and greet the rock band members.  I asked my daughter why this was so. She replied very simply: “T-Dog is a rock star. We love being with him. And we know he loves us.”

That love of our students was evident at a lunch of former Rectors of the College when one of them asked Taylor what is most important to him as president of William & Mary. Taylor could have answered this question many ways. He answered it the same way three times:  “The health, well-being, safety and development of our students, faculty and staff.” This is the essence of Taylor.

To me, Taylor epitomizes and embodies the absolute best characteristics of what it means to be a servant leader:

  • Always putting others and the College first and
  • Understanding what it means to “live in a fishbowl” where others are always watching the actions of their leader.

In this regard, Taylor has led this great university with high intellect, great character, courage and a genuine and deep passion for the mission of higher education. His mentor and great friend, the late Bill Bowen, former president of Princeton University, would be very proud of Taylor on this day.

I can say without any hesitation that I have personally enjoyed serving on this Board and working with Taylor more than any other of my many boards. 

During our time together, I have only found two real character flaws of Taylor’s. The first is that he refuses to drink water and hydrate properly, even in 90 degrees days while wearing a wool suit. With Helen’s full support, I once had to threaten Taylor that I would get a formal Board resolution requiring him to drink water if he did not start doing it himself. His only other character flaw early on was his often mentioning that fine university to the north in New Jersey — Princeton.  Princeton became the “Voldemort “(think Harry Potter novels), the word that could no longer be spoken without a $200 per instance contribution by Taylor to William & Mary.  Matthew, I think you may get a very large gift!

In all seriousness, Taylor loves his alma mater, Princeton — as he should — but I know I can also say with supreme confidence that Taylor has fallen in love with William & Mary, the Alma Mater of the Nation.

Helen, thank you for being such a great partner to Taylor and wonderful first lady for William & Mary. 

Taylor, my friend, congratulations on all that has been accomplished …”to date.” Again, that very important phrase, “to date.” I told a reporter this morning that in keeping with your great work ethic, I was certain you would be the last person out of the office on June 30, 2018, turning out the lights in the Brafferton. Between now and then, we have much more to do and accomplish over the next 15 months!

Finally, Taylor, I want to thank you for “taking care of our College.” As you know, a plaque hangs in the boardroom and has a simple but powerful phrase and admonition from Anne Dobie Peebles, a former Rector of the College. It says simply:  Take care of our College.”

Taylor, thank you for doing this with such aplomb, integrity, dedication and commitment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 27th president of the College of William & Mary, Taylor Reveley.