W&M's president announces plan to retire in June 2018

Jane Hammond
Contact Reporterejhammond@dailypress.com
.@williamandmary President Reveley plans to retire at the end of his contract in June 2018

College of William and Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III announced Friday his plan to retire when his current contract expires June 30, 2018.

Reveley, 74, has served as president of W&M since Sept. 6, 2008, after serving for several months as interim president after former President Gene Nichol's abrupt resignation.

Reveley had served as dean of the W&M law school for nearly 10 years before he was named the college's 27th president.

"I will be 75 and a half, and I will have worked like a dog for 50 straight years," Reveley said. "And I want to have some time to taste the Elysian Fields of retirement, and I figure, 75's about as far as I can push it prudently. If I'd started this job when I was 50 rather than 65, I'd love to keep going, because there's still a lot I can do. ...

"I'll have been president for 10 years," he said. "We've gotten a whole lot done, so I will leave feeling that it's been a very meaningful, marvelous 10 years, but now I will wish to do some other things."

Before Reveley's tenure at W&M, he practiced law for 28 years at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, specializing in energy matters. He received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1968 after completing his bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1965.

The Board of Visitors will announce next week appointments to a presidential search committee and more information about the selection process.

Christopher Newport President Paul Trible said Reveley's contributions to the state and country speak for themselves.

"Taylor is one of the most effective leaders in higher education because of his profound intellect, unmatched wit and a burning passion for public service," Trible said. "He is a champion of the liberal arts and truly believes in the power of higher education to solve real problems in the world. He's been so successful at W&M because of his unique ability to simultaneously interact with students and faculty while also walking among some of the most distinguished business and political leaders in America. He has that rare ability to engage all people."

Reveley's time as president began after Nichol's nearly three-year tenure, which was marred with controversy over the removal of a cross from Wren Chapel, the loss of a $12 million donation and a sex workers' art show.

Reveley said this week that in the aftermath of Nichol's resignation in February 2008, he immediately sought to act in ways that would soothe the campus community while moving the university forward. Rector Todd A. Stottlemyer, who has served on the college's Board of Visitors since 2011, agreed.

"I think leaders often time have two choices, to be a transitional leader or a transformational leader," Stottlemyer said. "He immediately chose the latter. He has been a transformational leader for the college during his tenure as president. First his job was to stabilize the situation, because things were not in a great place when he became interim, and then I think he really started down a path to be that transformational leader for the college. There were lots and lots of accomplishments, and he's not done yet. He still has more to do."

Even as an interim president, Reveley said he began the job with an eye on long-term plans. He set four major goals: to begin formulating a new strategic plan for the university; to bolster the university's financial foundation; to reshape the undergraduate general education curriculum; and to communicate better "across the board."

By the end of his tenure, he'll be able to check off those four accomplishments.

Seven months after Reveley was officially named president, the Board passed a five-year strategic plan, the first new one since 1994. It is modified as needed each year and includes some of the goals Reveley first outlined, such as promoting diversity across campus.

In 2015, W&M launched its "For the Bold" fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $1 billion and upping the rate of undergraduate alumni donors to 40 percent by 2020. As of Friday, almost $700 million has been raised and the undergraduate alumni giving rate is at about 30 percent.

Another key for the financial transformation was the creation of the William & Mary Promise, which guarantees in-state tuition will stay the same for the four years after a freshman begins his or her studies. New revenue generated from that has led to an investment in faculty salaries, which Stottlemyer said has helped retain current faculty and attract new members.

After several years of work by faculty, W&M launched its new College Curriculum, or COLL, in September 2015. The reconfigured general education emphasizes "rigorous thought, research, effective writing and speaking, interdisciplinary connections and global understanding," and culminate in a capstone experience.

Communications have improved, Reveley said, with social media outreach becoming a strong focus.

"I don't feel that many people are concerned any longer that we're not moving briskly into the 21st Century, while preserving that which must never change and being willing to change when necessary," Reveley said. "One of the characteristics of a successful academic institution, particularly a great institution, is you are always under construction. You are always building in every respect. If you stop doing that, the odds are you'll end up sitting in the middle of the road to get run over.

"I think there's a pretty palpable feel that we got that message, we are under construction, but that we're preserving our core values in the process," he said.

Although his retirement won't begin for another 14 months, Reveley already imagines enjoying a couple cups of coffee while catching up with the five newspapers he gets delivered each day. He and his wife, Helen, maintain residences in both Williamsburg and Richmond, and he plans to enjoy some downtime at each.

The Reveleys have four adult children — son W. Taylor Reveley IV serves as president of Longwood University in Farmville —and three grandchildren with whom they plan to spend time.

Information from the Daily Press archives was used in this report. Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.

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