College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley announced last night in a meeting with the student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that the College has reached its $10 million endowment goal for Gateway William and Mary, a financial program that provides debt relief to Virginian students whose families make less than $40,000 per year.
“Gateway has actually now raised $10 million for its endowment,” Reveley said. “A $10 million dollar endowment for Gateway beats the stew out of a $0 dollar endowment for Gateway,” he added, referring to the College’s initial financial reserves for the program, which was begun in 2005 by former College President Gene Nichol without a funding source or consultation from the Board of Visitors. The program had been in planning since the tenure of the College’s previous president, Timothy J. Sullivan ’66.
Reveley said that the College still requires more money to run the program effectively. To provide relief for 150 students, for example, requires a $4 million annual commitment and a program endowment of $80 million, according to estimates made by the College.
In an interview with The Flat Hat, Reveley said that the College was still fundraising for the program and had planned a formal announcement for late December. He said that the College would wait before announcing more details.
The announcement was a surprising addition to a largely informal event that allowed Reveley an opportunity to talk with the organization about race relations and diversity at the College.
NAACP President Justin Reid coordinated the discussion and invited other cultural organizations to participate, including Hillel and the Muslim Student Association.
In a question-and-answer session with Reid, Reveley talked about growing up in segregated Hampden-Sydney, Va., where his father was a professor at the eponymous college and eventually served as its president in the 1960s and ’70s.
“That was the absolute heart of the civil rights movement,” Reveley said. “I grew up in an era when you had the white people’s water fountain and the black people’s water fountain. … It’s hard to imagine, but it was the American version of apartheid.”
Reveley said that Virginia has made great progress in terms of racial diversity over the past 50 years, but that the College was still “not all that diverse,” particularly in regards to international and religious diversity.
“I’m a powerful believer, particularly for people your age, in terms of your own personal happiness … [that] you have to be able to enthusiastically reach out to people who are different than you,” he said. “I’m absolutely convinced that the world is going to belong to the people who have some cultural dexterity.”
Reveley also said that the College’s diversity programs, like Gateway, will likely remain unaffected by pending state budget cuts, which could sever from the College more than $7 million.
Reveley added, however, that the College lacked the strong endowments of other higher education institutions and stressed the importance of private donations to the College’s multicultural and diversity programs.
Reveley said that the College’s Planning Steering Committee is open to suggestions and input from students and encouraged the group to suggest to the committee ways to improve diversity at the College.