Staff Editorial: The search must continue

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August 29, 2008

1:39 PM

This afternoon, Rhian Horgan ’99 and Interim College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley will welcome students back to campus — a first for both of them. While this will no doubt offer a time to reflect on the excitement of a new year, we must also turn our thoughts to the school’s leadership. The College lacks a permanent replacement for former College President Gene Nichol. The search for a new president has yet to begin.

Reveley has suggested he might seek the position. That marks a change of tune from last spring. Moreover, Student Assembly President Valerie Hopkins has mentioned that Reveley would be here “a while.” We hope that this talk of an extended stay will not delay or — worse — cancel the search process. Realistically, however, it seems the Board of Visitors might not take action for some time.

Regardless of its intent, that inaction comes across as a tacit endorsement of Reveley’s presidency. To be sure, he could prove the right man for the job, but any search ought to first identify external candidates. Only in the end should it circle around to campus leaders — not vice versa. That Reveley occupied the top spot as the turmoil following Nichol’s departure subsided shouldn’t give him a free pass. It was the strength of the College community as a whole that healed the divide, not Reveley alone.

The College’s reputation ought to allow the search committee (when it forms) to cast a wide net. Last time around, two of the five finalists for the job came from within the ranks of current campus officials.

While we understand that crafting a better process will require time, extended inaction will convert an interim presidency into a de facto presidency.

The College community deserves some clear message of intent.

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