Ex-president Sullivan now leads museum
November 13, 2007
Former College President Timothy J. Sullivan is currently president and CEO of the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., the largest maritime history museum in the United States. It covers 60,000 square feet of space and houses rare artifacts relating to sea exploration.
p. “The Mariners’ Museum is a truly remarkable place,” Sullivan said. “It’s a place of international stature in the field of maritime study … I’ve really enjoyed it.”
p. This month marks the one-year anniversary of Sullivan’s time at the Mariners’ Museum. He feels he has made improvements on the facility itself and the museum, which has donated some of its rare books to Christopher Newport University, located nearby. But despite his work at the museum, the College has not left Sullivan’s memory.
p. “I miss William and Mary every day,” Sullivan said. “William and Mary has been part of my life since 1962, so it would be impossible not to miss it.”
p. Sullivan also notices the absence of key aspects of life at the College.
p. “I miss most my contact with students, feeling part of a special community with a great many wonderful people,” Sullivan said. “It’s great to walk in beauty [of the campus] every day.”
p. With regard to the recent budget cuts mandated toward the College, Sullivan’s reaction was one of disappointment.
p. “I thought, ‘there they go again,’” Sullivan said. “It’s regrettable. It hurts not just the universities, but Virginia. I’m very sorry about it.”
p. As for the gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition, Sullivan remains realistic.
p. “That’s been a long-running challenge for the College,” Sullivan said. “It’s simply a reality we all have to live with.”
p. Sullivan began his career at the College when he entered as a freshman in 1962. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in government and obtained a key from Phi Beta Kappa. Afterward, Sullivan attended Harvard Law School, and later went on to serve in the Army Signal Corps in Vietnam. He received the Army Commendation Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster and Bronze Star for his service.
p. It was during this time that Sullivan says he bumped into the College’s dean of the Marshall-Wythe law school, who offered him a position at the College. In 1972, Sullivan began teaching as assistant professor at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law. In 1977, Sullivan became full professor and associate dean. He was selected as president of the College in 1992.
p. Sullivan plans to continue at the Mariners’ Museum, but he is venturing in new directions as well.
p. “I’m consulting with … colleges and universities around the country,” Sullivan said. “I’m going to see how that goes. It will allow me to be involved in higher education.”
p. But there is one college that Sullivan will always have in mind.
“I loved being at William and Mary,” Sullivan said. “I wished that I didn’t have to leave.”