College leaders respond to student criticism, questions

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September 13, 2011

1:39 AM

Students, administrators and faculty met with College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley and College Rector Jeffrey Tramell ’73 in a public forum turned financial discussion Monday in the Sadler Center Chesapeake room.

A primary theme of the forum was the College’s need for a new financial plan.

“Finances are the core of our challenge,” Tramell said. “The students are great, the faculty’s great, all we need is more money.”

Reveley also expressed his desire to improve the College’s financial situation.

“This place is marvelous in countless important ways,” he said. “Like all state schools across the country, the era of significant state support for the operating budget is over. And it’s not coming back. So in order to sustain William and Mary as the marvelous place that it is, as a genuine Public Ivy, we have to come up with a new financial foundation.”

The president took charge of the topic of finances by outlining a three-part plan to earn the College more money. The new plan boils down to donations from alumni, tuition from out-of-state students and upholding the College’s reputation as a hard-working institution of learning.

“There’s really three ways we’re going about solving our financial problem. One is by trying to raise a lot more money than we have from the alumni and such, that’s the philanthropic group,” Reveley said. “Two is earned income. One way we can earn income is by having out-of-state students, who pay so much more than in-state students, whom we are utterly dependent on to balance the budget … [Three] is by carrying our burden of proof on campus. It’s not enough to say were working hard. Of course we’re already working hard, we’re William and Mary. We’re an elite school. People do a great job here.”

Of the three, Reveley stressed alumni donations as the most important method of funding the College has. Currently, the annual giving rate for College alumni is 23 percent.

“Annual giving is the most democratic method of philanthropic support,” he said. “Now, if you go out, one of you, and become a hedge fund manager and just disgustingly rich, for only a billion dollars we will move Lord Botetourt, put a statue of you right there and on your birthdays we will decorate it with garlands and have wood nymphs dance around it. For $5 billion, you’d be amazed what we could do.”

At one point in the forum, a student brought up the possibility of the College becoming a private institution, to which the president said plainly, “no.”

“I don’t think there’s any possibility of going private, for all sorts of reasons,” Reveley said. “But I think that there is a possibility of persuading the state to give us the sort of freedom in order to support ourselves.”
Other topics discussed during the forum included a growing need for technological integration and a concern for a lack of appreciation for College staff.

“There is great appreciation by the board and the administration for our faculty,” Trammel said. “We really do cherish them … We are not immune to the forces of society that are changing how things happen, whether it’s technology, whether it’s financial pressure or other things. That is a reality, and I think we have to be careful not to confuse how we do things to any sort of lack of appreciation for the job being done. What matters is that we need to help shape [the future] rather than having it shape us.”

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