Tonight, our Board of Visitors held a reception and dinner in honor of Provost Feiss, who is retiring from the College after more than a decade of service. Having numerous other projects at hand, I planned on attending the reception for 15 minutes hoping to thank Provost Feiss and to then leave. Well I was at the reception for nearly 2 hours and thank God, because it reminded me why I love this institution.
William & Mary is not about status or cow-towing. Hierarchy is not how we go about things. I’ve referenced this theme in other blogs but tonight it was reinforced. For nearly 90 minutes, I drank wine, conversed, and was inspired by administrators and some of whom I had never met and others of whom I am honored to call friends. My colleagues are brilliant and we all came together not as academics vs administrators but as friends and comrades. And we were all there to honor our leader who is our boss in title but our friend in spirit.
I met Provost Feiss at a fancy banquet my senior year. I was there representing a student organization I led. He came up to me and started a conversation — seriously — he was the provost and I was a lowly underclassman. But that didn’t matter; he wanted to get to know me. Since then he has been available to me always. He responds to my emails and phone calls and requests instantly. When I needed to interview him for a grad paper, he gave me several hours of his time. When I asked him to speak to my tour guides he readily accepted. Whenever I’ve needed anything, he’s been my advocate and my friend. So finally, after 90 minutes of waiting to speak to the man of the hour I finally found him, standing on the Wren portico, sharing a glass of wine with two current students. How befitting that I said goodbye in a situation similar to that under which I met him. I thanked him for his advocacy, for his time, for showing me that W&M is about community no matter what. And then I hugged him and left the reception.
Whether you’re a freshman student or a senior administrator, W&M embraces you and welcomes you. You have the opportunity to meet everyone and anyone. This place is truly special and I am reminded of it constantly.
– Wendy Livingston