Summer session office losing
Leaving legacy of commitment
by Matt Kelly
Taylor has been lauded by faculty for encouraging innovative
By Matt Kelly
L. Taylor wants to do things he hasnt done before.
man who will retire Sept. 1 after shepherding U.Va.s Summer
Session for 29 years wants to watch womens softball,
learn Spanish, see more of the things that make up this
country and maybe take in a few Alison Krauss concerts.
the diplomas, certificates and honors on his wall is a framed,
signed photograph of Krauss, whom he calls a bluegrass crooner.
He also loves Irish musician Enya, and if hes
not in the mood for her, he can pull from his desk drawer compact
discs of Eric Claptons Unplugged, or Fleetwood
have not decided what I am going to be doing on Sept. 2, but I
hope it is a lot of fun, he said. I have the right
attitude, I am in good health, I have the right interests. I want
to travel, I want to learn, I want to see some things and I need
to reconnect with family and friends.
a native of Kannapolis, N.C., has spent most of his adult life
at U.Va., first arriving as a graduate student in 1961, after
having taught high school biology in Newport News and Morehead
City, N.C. After earning a masters degree in science education,
he went on to earn a doctorate in 1965. He spent two years in
Richmond as the supervisor of research for the state Department
of Education before returning to the University on Sept. 1, 1967,
as assistant director of institutional research. He took over
the summer program in 1974.
dedication to Summer Session is evident, and the program has grown
tremendously under his leadership, said Vice President and
Provost Gene D. Block. He has been an asset to the University
and a dedicated adviser and mentor to so many students over the
years. They and we will miss him.
others laud his leadership, Taylor downplays his role, insisting
that the faculty owns the Summer Session; his office only administers
it. The faculty decides what courses to offer, while Taylor provides
perspective, history, advice on what works and what needs to be
offered. Then he stretches the budget to cover the courses.
Railton, professor of English and director of the departments
summer offerings for 15 years, praised Taylor for his commitment
to academic excellence in the summer programs and for encouraging
interesting course ideas. He cited English professor Victor Cabas
course, Mississippi in Stories and Songs, which looks
at the region through the eyes of writers and through blues music,
as being the sort of innovative and popular courses Taylor promoted.
wont be the only department summer chair who will miss him,
Railton said. While he understood the economic realities
of the summer session, he never took control away from the academic
says he benefits from working closely with the students.
graduate students in higher education are just so great and smart
and creative and energized and have such enthusiasm, it just spills
over on me, he said. The thing of helping young people,
if you do it well, it doesnt get any better than that. But
you have to focus on their welfare, not your own, not to embellish
or enlarge yourself.
says he has no retirement plan, but he is weighing his options.
would like to get a hobby, he said. It is going to
have to be very hypnotic because I get bored very easily. I dont
think I could watch a fishing line sit there without some sort
of entertainment going on.
wants to read fiction, waving his hand dismissively at a wall
of bookshelves filled with books on higher educational topics
and parasitology, with the exception of one on bass fishing and
several volumes of the collected Dilbert.
thing he will not do is teach. That takes a lot of energy,
will remain local in retirement. His wife, Ann Gill Taylor (Nursing
63, Education 75), is a professor in the Nursing School,
and their daughter, Shannon (College 89), a federal prosecutor,
lives in Richmond.
he has agreed to help a friend with a book he is writing, Taylor
will guard his time jealously.
have friends that want me to teach or to consult, he said.
Give me six months to get my feet on the ground. I dont
want to start agreeing to do everything and all of the sudden
realize Im really interested in going to watch the Washington
Redskins play on Sunday and find Ive given up all my Sundays.
I wont be doing what I want to do, Ill be doing what
other people want me to do.
without a plan, Taylor is prepared.
have a good attitude. I am not worried about it or afraid of retirement.