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A few minutes with Jim Bill

James A. Bill was the founding director of the Reves Center for International Studies, and served in this capacity from 1989 – 1998. He led Professor Emeritus of Government James A. Bill, pictured here at the Reves Center’s 20th anniversary celebration in 2009.the Center for International Studies, the precursor to the Reves Center, from 1987 – 1989.

Bill will be honored with an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters during the Charter Day ceremony on February 3.

Q: What was your reaction when you found out that you would be honored at Charter Day?

A: I was totally overwhelmed and surprised. I am deeply humbled by this singular honor. Of course, it goes without saying, the exceptional faculty, staff, and students contributed to making the Reves Center what it is today.

Q: What are your fondest memories of your time at William & Mary?

A: My fondest memories include teaching and working with the students. The inauguration of the Reves Center for International Studies on April 15, 1989 was a milestone. Bill Moyers, who gave the inaugural address, helped set the tone for the Center. Wendy Reves, who provided the generous support for the new center, was also at the inaugural address. The establishment of the James A. Bill Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment was definitely a personal highlight.

Q: What do you think of how far William & Mary has come in its international endeavors?

A: In 1989, I wrote out my blueprint for international studies at William & Mary: “The new Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary seeks to alleviate incoherence and to promote global understanding by transcending traditional disciplinary divisions, by breaking down the artificial walls that separate schools from one another, and by building bridges of communication between university, community, nation, and the world.”

My personal goal was to insure that every William & Mary student who wanted to study abroad had the opportunity to do so. The Reves Center continues to provide the funding and support to send large numbers of students and faculty abroad. Furthermore, the Reves Center dormitory provides a nucleus for all international activities on campus.

It is heartening to note that the College of William & Mary remains committed to international studies and, in particular, to the Reves Center.

Q: What was it like working with Wendy Reves?

A: Wendy Reves maintained a special interest in the Reves Center activities. She helped build the morale of the Reves Center family through many generous gifts. She visited William & Mary many times before her death. Her flamboyant demeanor caught the attention of everyone who came in contact with her!

The Reves Center for International Studies was established in 1989 with a gift from Wendy Reves in memory of her husband Emery, author of The Anatomy of Peace. The Reves Center supports and promotes the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community involvement at the College of William & Mary. Today the Reves Center is the home of the office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, the Global Education Office, and the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs.