Through actively reaching out to the campus community in the month since his appointment as interim College president, Taylor Reveley, former dean of the Law School, has spent considerable time working with students, faculty and staff.
p. Having accepted the position amidst heated debate over the Board of Visitors’ decision and former College President Gene Nichol’s resignation, Reveley said he entered the office with two goals: to help heal the campus and to keep the school on track through the academic year.
p. Seeing progress in both areas, even Nichol’s most loyal supporters have commended Reveley.
p. “I applaud Reveley for coming into a hard situation and really making the best of it,” Sarah Rojas ’10, a leader of the Renew Nichol student group, said.
p. One of Reveley’s biggest challenges is demonstrating to students that he values their input as much as his predecessor did — a task, he explains, he is more than willing to undertake.
p. “Listening and learning will be crucial for me in the weeks to come,” Reveley said in an e-mail to the College community.
Student Assembly President Zach Pilchen ’09 was impressed to find that by Reveley’s third day in office, the interim president had already set up a meeting with an array of student leaders to convey his “basic philosophy and to meet the student body.”
p. Even with a full schedule of trips to Richmond, teleconferences with alumni and parents and meetings with faculty and staff, Reveley has still found time to connect with students.
p. Reveley held a student forum Feb. 27 to address questions about his plans for the future and to give students a glimpse into his personal life.
p. “His willingness to listen to us was clearly present,” Antonio Elias ’09 said. “He didn’t dismiss any questions and was very open.”
Reveley also doubled the number of student-president lunches and expressed hope that students will schedule one through his assistant, Cindy Brauer.
p. Bailey Thomson ’10, the founder of IHeartNichol.com, said she was encouraged by the fact that “Reveley is making service and volunteer services a top priority.”
p. Reveley even spoke of his hobbies and family life, referring to his “fluffy white dog” and two of his recent favorite movies, “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”
p. Law students were there, too.
p. “He was a natural choice as interim president,” Brandi Zehr ’06 J.D. ’09, treasurer of the Student Bar Association, said. “He cares tremendously about the university as a whole.”
p. Since the forum, Reveley has met with other student leaders.
Josh Wayland ’08, co-facilitator of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, scheduled a meeting with the interim president to discuss environmental sustainability initiatives on campus.
p. “He was very supportive about what I had to say and I think it speaks to his genuine concern about the students and the general well-being of the College,” Wayland said.
p. Reveley is also striving to continue Nichol’s tradition of attending student events. Reveley said he enjoyed the men’s basketball team’s run to the CAA Tournament title game and was very sad to see the loss to GMU.
p. “I’m going to try to attend a good many sporting events,” he said. “Last Saturday .night my wife and I went to a student play called ‘Twilight.’ We were really impressed.”
p. Reveley has continued to reach out to students. Over spring break, as soon as Reveley heard of the fire at the Chi Omega sorority house, he rushed to the scene. Susan O’Shaughnessy ’08, the only student in the house at the time of the fire, said she was impressed.
p. “I was not [ex]pecting [Reveley] to arrive at all,” she said. “It was great to see that he cared to see that we were okay.”
Many students who compare Reveley to Nichol have noted that he doesn’t seem as captivating as his predecessor. In response to the critique, Reveley is positive.
p. “Nichol might be far larger, more hairy and more charming than I,” Reveley said. “Though I do believe I am large and hairy enough to be charming.”
p. Despite his different leadership style, Reveley said he wants to continue Nichol’s four primary goals: the Gateway Initiative, diversity, internationalization and civic engagement.
p. “Our test in the coming weeks is to support him and help him be successful because his success will be that of the College’s,” Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler said.