Privately, Powell says consensus reached

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September 5, 2008

10:40 AM

Interim College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley likely will be installed today as the school’s long-term president, said Board of Visitors Rector Michael Powell ’85 Wednesday in a private e-mail obtained by The Flat Hat.

“I believe it is fair to say there is a consensus [among BOV members] that it is not a good time to do a search, that Taylor is doing a remarkable job and we should empower him fully as the President,” Powell said. In the e-mail, which was sent to Andrew McRoberts ’87, who was on the five-member executive board of ShouldNicholBeRenewed.org., Powell hinted that the BOV would likely confirm Reveley.

SNBR was a secretive organization that advocated for the removal of former College President Gene Nichol. Its members had several private meetings with BOV members in the months leading up to Nichol’s resignation, including a meeting with Powell.

A source forwarded the e-mail to The Flat Hat under the condition of anonymity. McRoberts is not the source.

“To be clear, the BOV has not yet made a decision on whether to initiate a search or appoint Taylor — though my sense is the betting is on the latter,” Powell said in the e-mail.

Reveley was appointed as interim College president in February following Nichol’s resignation.

Powell said that there are a number of reasons Reveley should stay in his position.

“We feel that the campus is doing well, but would still benefit from a longer period of stability,” he said. “A search process might prove difficult and divisive rather than a vehicle for coming together. Additionally, the critical problems of our financial situation, the need for a strategic plan and other immediate challenges cannot wait for a future successor — they are serious immediate issues that have to be tackled now.”

He added that the BOV has not reached a final decision.

“The Board … has been unwilling to move forward with Taylor for a term without some confidence that the decision would enjoy support from faculty, students, staff and alums,” he said. “I visited campus for two days and met with all the faculty governance groups, the deans, the administrators, students, and staff. For weeks, we have been in dialogue.”

Powell also sent an e-mail to the student body later in the day.

“The Board agrees that removing Taylor’s interim status might be a meritorious course, but only if it is widely supported by our community,” he said.

Powell noted Reveley’s work on improving the College’s national standing, his approach to financial issues such as his response to state-wide budget cuts and his handling of personnel issues like the retirement of Vice President of Student Affairs Sam Sadler and Vice President of Public Affairs Stewart Gamage.

The BOV decided not to start the search for a new president over the summer due to feelings that, “Our community was not ready to proceed and … an immediate search would be unproductive,” Powell said in the e-mail to students.

The BOV meets today at 10 a.m. at Blow Hall.

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