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CW Journal : Autumn 00 : Message From the President

Message From the President

A Visit With Colin Campbell

President Colin Campbell

--Kelly Mihalcoe

"Near the end of Colin Campbell's first day at work in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's presidential suite, he rose to welcome a visitor, closed the door, and sat down for a shirt-sleeves chat. Campbell's leather-topped desk still bore a few bits of moving-in debris, but behind it the new chief executive was quite at ease. "It is," he said, "the desk which came from my office as president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York, and before that from my office when I was president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Originally it was in my father's office when he was vice president and treasurer of Columbia University, and then as Controller General of the United States. It is a desk that obviously has very special meaning to me, and I was really delighted to see it here. Coming into my new office, I felt very much at home."

Here is some of the rest of the conversation:

The days ahead?

"It's neither timely nor appropriate to make a lot of pronouncements about my plans. Following my selection in April, I've had to give substantial time to phasing out at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. There was a tremendous amount to do, given my 12 years at the Fund, the range of projects in which I have been engaged, nationally and internationally, and my involvement with the Rockefeller family; which, fortunately, will continue.

"That being said, I have thought a lot about priorities requiring my time and attention once I arrived in Williamsburg. For example, I had been intensely involved as chairman of the board in trustee discussions about the Visitor Center and the Williamsburg Inn projects, as well as other important capital programs now under way. They represent a huge commitment requiring my active engagement.

"I have also been particularly involved in the past several months in the more intensive planning for the comprehensive campaign, which is moving along well. I believe deeply in what this place is about and I see the campaign as an exciting opportunity to meet our urgent needs-planned preservation needs, programmatic needs, personnel needs . . .

"Those needs are considerably greater than the $300 million we had been planning to raise. Assuming we are persuaded it is feasible to do so, we will extend the campaign and increase the goal.

"Our hope is to publicly announce the campaign next spring as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Historic Area. We'll have to see what kind of progress we make before reaching those decisions."

Can you share some of the Foundation's 75th anniversary plan?

"Colonial Williamsburg has a rare opportunity to kick-off a celebration that will go on for a year by being the featured exhibition at the Winter Antiques Show in New York from January 19th to 27th. The Winter Antiques Show is the preeminent event of its genre, and represents a marvelous opportunity to display our collection, to remind people of the quality of our museums, and to show off our curatorial staff. Planning for the rest of the year, including the campaign announcement, is still in the preliminary stages."

What should staff expect?

"First in my role as chairman of the board's human resources committee, and more recently as chairman of the board, and as chief executive, I have had a continuing concern about assuring the well-being of our employee group-its quality, its compensation, its job satisfaction. The Human Resources Committee, under the chairmanship of Gordon Rainey now, continues to give special attention to that issue. People work extremely hard and effectively at Colonial Williamsburg, and we need to continue to develop programs that reflect that effort. I'd like donors to understand what a high priority that is for me."

There are high hopes riding on you.

"So I hear. Expectations seem to be very high. I hope they aren't too unrealistic, but I am going to work as hard as I can to meet them. Certainly, if demonstrating a solid commitment to Colonial Williamsburg's mission is one of those expectations there should be little question about that."

Colin G. Campbell