When Jim Golden arrived at the College of William and Mary in 1999, he expected to work in the Office of Economic Development for a few years and then retire. Nine years later, he finds himself responsible for securing the College’s financial future.
In May, Golden was named vice president for strategic initiatives. The new position combines Golden’s previous work in technology, research and business partnerships in the Office of Economic Development with the former responsibilities of the vice president for public relations.
The latter position was last held by Stewart Gamage ’72, who recently left the College for a job at the University of Virginia.
“When [Interim College President Taylor] Reveley came on, he wanted to focus five years out on the important things facing the university, and financial issues were high on that list,” Golden said. Reveley’s appointment came shortly after the state announced a major budget deficit.
As his title suggests, Golden will be responsible for creating a financial strategy for the College, maximizing the university’s budget, fundraising and economic development. In addition, he has administrative oversight of the offices of Government Relations, University Relations and Campus Publications.
With degrees from the United States Military Academy at West Point and Harvard University, the now-retired brigadier general served for 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he served on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and headed the social sciences department and the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis at West Point.
After retiring from the armed forces, Golden spent time in the corporate world before coming to the College. Golden said that he plans on bringing corporate business models to an academic setting.
“The corporate sector is ahead in terms of information collection,” he said.
Golden has created opportunities for the College in the Tidewater area and in Williamsburg. Through his work at the Office of Economic Development, Golden helped facilitate many research and commercial opportunities between faculty and members of the private sector.
Golden is continuing his work with the William and Mary Real Estate Foundation, which is currently planning future student retail and entertainment businesses near campus.
“The College has worked to get more student-focused business in Williamsburg,” economics professor Robert Archibald said. “That is what Jim has already been doing.”
Golden explained that cooperation with nearby businesses is crucial to furthering the College’s financial goals.
“I think the future of the College is directly related to the economic environment around the College of William and Mary. We want to foster a diverse economy, more entry-level opportunities for graduates and internships for students,” he said. “We need a stronger link between William and Mary and the city of Williamsburg.”
More significant than area businesses is the budget situation facing Virginia and the College. Last year, the state cut the College’s budget by $2.7 million. In addition, Reveley said in an interview that more budget cuts were “coming almost certainly down the road.”
“Its an important time for this position given the current state of the budget news in Richmond and the need for the College to develop a strategy for greater financial sustainability,” College spokesman Brian Whitson said.
Golden will help conduct discussions with the state government in Richmond using the government relations responsibilities his position entails.
“There are no questions about it,” Golden said. “At the state level, it is very clear that [the state legislature] has pressing economic challenges. The ability to sustain support of higher education is a challenge. The College is indebted to the state for function and operations … The state is unlikely to contribute more than 20 percent on operating budget, and we must find a solution.”
In the short-term, Golden has already suggested creating a more diverse source for the College’s financial stability. This semester, Golden will be reviewing the College’s budget and comparing it to the financial operations of peer schools.
He hopes to use this information to create a permanent mechanism for the future financial functions of the College.
“In September [we will start] thinking systematically about the planning process,” he said. “My goal is to put a continuous strategic planning process in place that becomes [the] normal way of how the College does its business.”
Golden already has experience from his former university position working with College administration officials, businesses in the city and government agencies — relationships he will need in his new role. With so many diverse offices under his lead, Golden is using the best resources of each to find solutions for the College’s financial challenges.
“This summer, I wanted to orient all of the offices, orient them to focus on the planning effort,” he said. “The offices know a lot. I want to draw on their expertise and utilize the larger work force to work on long terms issues together.”