A ‘surprised’ Reveley takes over as College head

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February 13, 2008

4:38 PM

“Interim, acting, temporary, man of the hour.”

p. Those were the words of Interim College President Taylor Reveley Wednesday afternoon as he tried to describe his current position after College President Gene Nichol’s resignation Tuesday.

p. Reveley said that he was surprised by Nichol’s decision, which Nichol announced Tuesday in an e-mail to students. He also said that the College’s Board of Visitors asked him to serve in the interim shortly after the announcement. He previously served as Dean of the College’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law; law Professor Lynda Butler will serve in that position until he returns.

p. Reveley noted that he is not seeking a permanent position as college president but felt it was his duty to serve in interim. Reveley was one of top three candidates for the College presidency in 2005, after former College Presidedent Timothy Sullivan’s retirement.

p. “An alumnus of the law school sent me an e-mail, and he didn’t know whether this was a promotion, a civic duty or a sentence,” Reveley said. “I’m focusing on the civic duty dimension. I’m doing this because I think I can help the university get through a difficult period and do some good.”

p. Reveley also said that, while he will only serve in interim, he would try to lead an active presidency.

p. “What I’ve been asked to do is not be a caretaker but to help the College keep moving forward,” he said.

p. He noted that the College will work to increase student and faculty diversity, internationalize the College campus, foster civic duty and continue the College’s Gateway Program, which improves financial aid to low-income Virginia students.

p. These issues were a large part of Nichol’s tenure. In his e-mail to students yesterday, Nichol cited his commitment to diversity and Gateway as some of the most controversial aspects of his tenure.
Reveley said, however, that those initiatives were part of the College before Nichol’s presidency.

p. “These are things that have been around William and Mary for a long time; they certainly characterize Tim Sullivan’s presidency,” Reveley said. “What [Nichol] did was put some … passion into them.” Reveley said.

p. In a statement released to students and faculty yesterday, Reveley stressed the need for the College community to move past recent events. He also expressed sympathy for Nichol.

p. “This is a difficult time of transition not just for William and Mary but also for Gene Nichol and his family,” Reveley wrote in the statement. “Nick and Glenn [George, Nichol’s wife] are my good friends. They have my very best wishes.”

p. Reveley also said that he wants to improve the College’s national reputation and move away from the controversies that have garnered national attention in the past 16 months. He cited the Wren cross and the Sex Workers’ Art Show as the issues that has distracted attention from other College initiatives.

p. “We need to start talking about other things,” he said.
Reveley also said that the search for a new president may take a long time and that he would not be surprised if he were to serve in interim for more than one year.

p. He also addressed the student and faculty protests that have occurred throughout campus. Many students held a “sit-in” at the University Center Wednesday and some faculty held an unofficial strike that caused the cancellation of many classes Wednesday and Thursday.

p. “I think one reason we’re having so much reaction is people care so intensely about this place, particularly the students. I mean this really is your school. You care about it so you’re responding very vigorously to something that you either don’t understand or don’t like.”

p. Reveley said that he plans to address students more publicly in the coming days.

p. “I’m going to do my level best for the school they love,” he said, referring to students. “William and Mary’s … one of the genuinely great, enduring institutions. I want to help push it forward.”
Reveley attended Princeton and the University of Virginia. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and worked at the law firm Hunton & Williams for 28 years before becoming Dean of the Law School in 1998.

Flat Hat Assoc. News Editor Alex Guillén contributed reporting to this article.

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