Timothy J. Sullivan will be remembered as the president who transformed William and Mary from a strong Virginia college into a world-class university.
Rector of the College of William and Mary
June 18, 2004
President Sullivan, over the past twelve years I’ve often heard you introduce yourself in the following manner: “I am Tim Sullivan, and I am privileged to be president of the College of William and Mary.”
Tim, today it is my task to correct that statement. It is we, the people of the College of William and Mary, who have been privileged to have you as our president. Since you assumed the presidency in 1992, you have led this institution with vision, integrity and courage.
Those are extraordinary attributes, but one word encompasses them all – and that word is excellence. Tim Sullivan has challenged each of us to accept nothing less than excellence, which you have established as William and Mary’s standard in all things: excellence in scholarship, excellence in our service to others, our communities, our country and our college; excellence in the values of honesty and integrity that are, and must be, our moral compass. We and thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff are deeply, deeply in your debt.
- Since 1992, applications for admission have climbed from slightly over 7,000 and now hover around the 10,000 mark, more than a 40-percent increase;
- The average SAT score of incoming freshmen is up by nearly 100 points, and the percentage who have graduated in the top ten-percent of their high school classes has climbed from 73 to 85 percent;
- Research grants have nearly tripled, from $17 million in 1992 to $48 million today;
- Private giving has soared from $14.4 million in 1992 to $43.5 million last year;
- Our endowment has climbed from $142 million to $401 million, and will soon grow larger thanks to the success of the Campaign for William and Mary, which has raised more than $280 million -- well beyond the critical half-way point; and
- The personal achievements of our faculty and students have multiplied. Four students during President Sullivan’s tenure were named Rhodes Scholars, and faculty have earned increasing numbers of Guggenheim, Mellon and Fulbright awards.
But as in all human endeavors, statistics fail to convey fully what Tim Sullivan has meant to William and Mary. Tim, your dedication to the distinctive character of this place has helped ensure that students of today and of the future will continue to enjoy the close teaching relationships with their professors and strong sense of community with their fellow students that comprise the unique William and Mary experience.
Your integrity has helped maintain the intellectual vigor of the College’s undergraduate curriculum as one of the best in the nation, and strengthened our graduate and professional schools so that they are all now ranked among the nation’s top 50.
Finally, Tim, your courage – in the face of often intense pressure – has helped call public attention to the fact that increased appropriations for higher education are the most valuable investments in the future that the Commonwealth of Virginia can make. Recent actions of the Governor and General Assembly suggest that your message may be taking hold, as Virginia has begun to reinvigorate its financial commitment to higher education. Your willingness to speak out forcefully for this cause reminds me of something that the late Robert F. Kennedy said: "Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the most essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."
Tim, we shall miss you when you depart next year. We shall miss you greatly.
We shall also miss Anne, your wife and fellow William and Mary alumna. As the always gracious hostess of the President’s House, Anne complemented your own efforts to strengthen William and Mary’s warm, caring community. She also added her own flair to the public and private events that make visits to campus so special. Anne, thank you for all you have done for our alma mater. To me, you will always be the First Lady of William and Mary.
Tim and Anne, we realize that we will have this coming year to craft a proper farewell for you both, and we look forward to an opportunity for a more leisurely enumeration of the manifold ways that your joint efforts have enhanced this campus and enriched our lives. We wish you both well in whatever you might choose to do, and we look forward to your continuing involvement in the future of the institution you have nurtured so well.
Even as we celebrate the extraordinary success of the College’s 25th president, I am mindful that it is our responsibility over the next year to find an individual to continue his work. Tim Sullivan has demonstrated that nothing short of the best is acceptable. To honor that standard, I am announcing today the initiation of a worldwide search to find an extraordinary woman or man to lead William and Mary to further success.
We will cast a wide net, tell William and Mary’s story persuasively and eventually entice one of the most capable individuals to lead this institution in its fourth century of service.
In short order, I will name a search committee comprised of board members, faculty, students and alumni to lead this effort. This group will represent William and Mary’s varied and rich interests, talents, cultures and values. I am chairing the search committee, and I will ensure that the various points of view that strengthen this college are heard.
The search committee will make recommendations regarding the candidates to the Board of Visitors. The Board of Visitors, of course, will make the ultimate decision as to who will serve as the 26th president of the College of William and Mary.
The Board’s goal is to hire a new President by the spring of 2005. To expedite the process, the Board will meet in early July to consider the Presidential search process and any other items that may be timely for the Board’s consideration.
President Sullivan or I would be pleased to answer any questions that the press may have.