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CW Journal : Winter 2011 : Message from the President

President Colin G. Campbell

President Colin G. Campbell

Message from the President


Colonial Williamsburg is more than a museum of buildings and artifacts, more than 301 acres of eighteenth-century homes, taverns, public buildings, trades shops, and art collections. It is a museum of an idea, an idea that motivates and is reflected in all of these . . . the idea of America.

Ten years ago, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation created a Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures division to focus its efforts to communicate and teach that idea to audiences beyond the colonial capital. In the culmination of a distinguished foundation career Richard McCluney became Royce R. and Kathryn M. Baker vice president with overall responsibility for this educational outreach.

When the Bakers and I talked about endowing the PPLV position, and putting their names on it, based on their belief in the significance of outreach for Colonial Williamsburg’s mission, they responded with enthusiasm and generosity. They understood that educational outreach is now a clearly parallel function to the activities of the Historic Area and the museums. The mission—that the future may learn from the past—has been enriched, enhanced, and expanded by this activity.

Richard McCluney assembled a remarkable team of specialists in everything from videography to the World Wide Web. To mention a few things, they designed production and photography studios, entered into publishing partnerships, oversaw the National Teacher Development program, and brought outreach into the digital age. They played a central role in the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the settlement at Jamestown, including producing the World Forum on the Future of Democracy, the commemoration’s final signature event.

Amidst all of this activity, and most likely inspired by it, Richard McCluney coined the phrase “the idea of America.” As the board of trustees has noted, his enthusiasm for the potential of technology to spread “insight and understanding about the values and principles of American democracy” has brought “distinction and respect to the foundation.” By the time Richard retired December 31, 2010, the foundation was producing seven electronic field trips a year that, through television and the Internet, touch millions of students across the country with lively and participatory lessons in history and representative democracy. We also created a groundbreaking, interactive, fully digital, Web-based high school history and citizenship curriculum, appropriately entitled The Idea of America.

Our four Web sites likely will log more than thirty million visits in 2011, and more than three million of our podcasts and vodcasts will be downloaded. To the list compiled during the past ten years, add eighteen DVDs of original productions, twenty-two music recordings, forty-five books, mobile Web and iPhone apps, educational gaming applications, streaming media of such special events as the inauguration of Virginia’s governor at the colonial Capitol, virtual exhibits, a citizenship forum, and seven regional Emmy awards.

The accomplishments added a new dimension to public perceptions of Colonial Williamsburg. Not only can people come to Colonial Williamsburg; Colonial Williamsburg is now coming to them through their schools, and through publications, and DVDs, and the Web...

Richard McCluney’s long-time colleague and PPLV’s new vice president, Bill White, former Theresa A. and Lawrence C. Salameno Director of Educational Program Development, is not only advancing the initiatives of the past—in which he played a central role—but pursuing new educational outreach opportunities and cutting-edge concepts. His appointment provides continuity of leadership and creativity in the effective use of technology.

Our educational outreach is expanding. The technology-based programs we are providing to teachers and students across the nation are keeping the foundation in the forefront of this important and competitive field. And our efforts are enlarging the audience for the extraordinary range of Colonial Williamsburg’s offerings and emphasizing our contemporary relevance, that the future may learn from the past.

Colin G. Campbell
President and CEO