Rector Todd Stottlemyer ’85 and College President Taylor Reveley held an open campus conversation last Thursday to give students and staff an opportunity to ask anything of the College of William and Mary’s leadership.
Reveley began the meeting by discussing his happiness with the College’s health. He spoke to three major indicators of health: the ability to continually attract impressive students, the alumni whose donations are vital for the College’s success and the caliber and effectiveness of the board.
Board leadership collaboration and cohesion are especially important in times of change, Stottlemyer said. A decrease in state funding has prompted a discussion of the importance of philanthropy for the College. Becoming more self-sufficient (in part through alumni donations) is crucial for the College to maintain its small size – against the Commonwealth’s interests. This concern for the College’s independence was raised by an audience member who also questioned the College’s future status as a public ivy and its cost to students. Stottlemyer addressed this concern and brought up the William and Mary Promise as a big step toward this goal, a tactic that he said differs from what the other state schools are doing.
“I think the William and Mary Promise was a step, another step, where we did something different,” Stottlemyer said. “We had significant support for what we did. So I think that was a big step and an opportunity to take further steps in the years ahead.”
One student question related to the efficacy and possible expansion of the College’s mental health services in light of recent concerns. Reveley said he would like to see all medical services on campus grow, but that is unlikely to happen due to a lack of funding.
“I would love to see our medical services on campus more extensive than they now are,” Reveley said. “We are already straining to do what we do on the mental health fronts and I doubt if we are going to put a whole lot more money in it, but it is an area of real concern.”
While he said he thinks the psychiatric and mental health services are doing well, Reveley also said he believes that many who need the most help don’t seek it out.
Another student asked about the implementation of partner benefits to the College with the new legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia. Reveley said this change has been a long time coming and that it is not only more fundamentally fair, but also beneficial from a recruiting and retention standpoint, as it will make the College a more attractive employer.
Staff Assembly Representative Nicky Bell ’12 questioned Reveley on the issue of classified staff.
“What will be the role of classified staff going forward?” he asked.
Reveley acknowledged that while the College emphasizes its faculty members, without classified staff, the school’s essential work could not be accomplished. Reveley said hopes all of the staff can be seen as one team.
Nearly every answer circled back to the College’s need for funding to accomplish future goals and rely upon the state less. Reveley closed the conversation with an offer for alumni.
Reveley said he has come to an agreement with Historic Campus leaders to move the Lord Botetourt sculpture and replace it with the first person to donate $5 billion to the College.
He even pledged to decorate it with garlands on the donor’s birthday.