Opening Convocation will mark a golden anniversary for one participant, as Board of Visitors Rector Henry C. Wolf ’64 J.D. ’66 commemorates the 50th anniversary of his enrollment at the College of William and Mary by delivering remarks at the ceremony.
Wolf said he plans to welcome new students with a message about what has changed and what has endured since his time as a freshman.
“I would like our incoming freshmen to know that William and Mary is a special place with a long and rich history of excellence,” Wolf said in an e-mail.
Wolf arrived in Williamsburg as a freshman in September 1960, wanting to attend the William and Mary Law School and ultimately become a tax lawyer. He accomplished the first goal in 1966, and the second when he joined Norfolk Southern Corporation in 1973 as a tax attorney.
At Norfolk Southern, Wolf rose to the rank of vice chairman and chief financial officer before retiring in 2007. He credits his dedication to his goals and his education at the College as the springboards for his success.
“I had had a very clear sense of what I wanted to accomplish and I pursued that dream,” Wolf said. “I also had a sense that I would get a great college education at William and Mary and that notion proved to be quite correct.”
Wolf’s undergraduate and law school careers proved to be only the start of his involvement with the College.
He was appointed to the College’s Board of Visitors in 2003, and then elected as vice rector in 2006 and rector in 2009.
Additionally, the College’s law school named its renovated library after him in 2006. That year, the law school also awarded Wolf an honorary membership in the Order of the Coif, a national honor society.
Wolf said that the most significant difference between his time at the College and the incoming class is that additional financial assistance opportunities, like the Gateway William and Mary program, are now offered to students with limited financial resources.
“My father had passed when I was 14 years old and so I needed to work while I was in college to defray the costs of my education,” he said. “I worked at the King’s Arms Tavern as a waiter and in local hotels as a night auditor. I think this experience added to my education in [different] ways.”
Wolf said he believes the reduced level of monetary support the College receives from the commonwealth of Virginia is the biggest challenge it faces today.
“I would like the College to find a path to develop a new financial model for funding the cost of education at William and Mary and still maintain, and perhaps even improve, the quality of education that we offer to our students,” Wolf said.
To incoming freshmen, Wolf advises dedication and hard work.
“The College now has a commitment to these young men and women, but they also now have a commitment to the College,” he said. “I want them to understand that they are about to embark on one of the most exciting chapters of their lives.”