Hays Thomas Watkins, Jr., BOV Member, Rector, and W&M Honorary Alumnus 1982
Hays Thomas Watkins, II. served as a member of the Board of Visitors from 1984 to 1993 and served as Rector from 1987 to 1993. He is an Honorary Alumnus of the William & Mary Class of 1982.
William & Mary
Interviewee: Hays T. Watkins
Interviewer: Gerald Gaidmore
Date: June 15, 2016 Duration: 01:10:10
Gerald: My name is Gerald Gaidmore, and I’m here with Hays T. Watkins, former rector of the William & Mary Board of Visitors. It’s June 15, 2016. And if you’d like to say something, Mr. Watkins, and just introduce yourself.
Hays: Looking forward to talking about the very pleasant time in my life as rector.
Gerald: To get started we’ll talk a little bit about your childhood. So if you could talk a little bit about growing up in Kentucky.
Hays: I was born in Fern Creek, Kentucky, which is a suburb of Louisville. My father was a cashier of the local bank in Fern Creek until 1933, when President Roosevelt closed all of the banks, including the bank of Fern Creek. After that we moved back to my father’s home in Henry County, which is between Louisville and Cincinnati, so I grew up on a farm in Henry County.
00:01:08 Went to New Castle schools, New Castle High School. Went to college in Bowling Green at what was then the Bowling Green College of Commerce. It’s now the Business School of Western Kentucky, but at the time it was a separate institution. Got drafted during World War II. Took basic training. Studied Japanese to be in the invasion of the mainland of Japan in early 1946, but fortunately the atomic bomb came along, and so that spared me. They said later, the official estimate was 90% casualties for the interpreters in the first seven days, and so that’s not very good odds.
00:02:10 I was just as pleased that the war ended before I had a chance to go to Japan. After that I spent a year in Panama Canal Zone in the Army. Came back in 1947. Finished my college life in Bowling Green at the Business University. Then went to Evanston, Illinois and got my MBA at Northwestern University at the end of ’48. Took the Certified Public Accountant exam in November of ’48, passed, first time. Went to work for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway on January the 2nd, 1949. Worked with C&O and its successors until I retired in 1991.
Gerald: And what did you major in when you were at Bowling Green?
Hays: I majored in accounting. A bean counter.
Gerald: And that was your involvement with getting a job with the C&O, and your love of railroads?
Hays: When I joined C&O, it was just after the railroad had bought a 10% interest in the New York Central Railroad. The C&O applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission to exert control over the New York Central, but the ICC refused to allow C&O to exert control, so C&O later sold its interest in the New York Central to another company.
00:04:03 Then I moved over in the accounting department, stayed in the accounting department for several years, and moved up to become the treasurer of C&O and later the vice president of finance, then vice president of administrative activities, which included finance and several other departments. Became president of the C&O on April the 1st, 1971. Had that job until 1980, when C&O and the Seaboard Coast Line merged to form CSX Corporation.
00:04:53 Prime Osborn, who was the head of Seaboard, and I were joint chief executive officers of CSX from its beginning until 1982, when Prime retired and I became chairman and CEO. I kept that job until I retired in 1991. I’ve been retired ever since.
Gerald: Is that what brought you to Virginia?
Hays: Yes. When we, Chessie and Seaboard had their merger discussions, we looked for a place that would be somewhat between Cleveland, which was the Chessie headquarters, and Jacksonville, which was the Seaboard headquarters, and we looked at several places, but we found that Richmond was the ideal headquarters. Both railroads were here.
00:05:58 We were away from the headquarters of the two railroads. We were close to Washington, which is important to us. We were close to New York, which, our financial activities centered there. So we picked Richmond and established headquarters first in the Federal Reserve Bank Building and then later in One James Center in downtown Richmond. And we were there until I retired.
Gerald: When did the Norfolk Southern and CSX merge?
Hays: It was the Baltimore & Ohio and Chesapeake & Ohio. C&O bought control of the B&O in 1961, again, with Interstate Commerce Commission hearings, and the control was effective February of 1963.
00:06:58 So from 1963 on, C&O and B&O worked together. The two corporations were separate, but worked together as one unit. And that stayed until 1980, when CSX was formed.
Gerald: How did you get involved with the College of William & Mary?
Hays: We have one son, Hays Thomas III, who was born in Richmond, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. When he was in high school and looked around for colleges, he visited several colleges, but fell in love with William & Mary and decided that he wanted to attend.
00:08:04 No one from his high school in Cleveland had ever been accepted at William & Mary and his counselor advised Tom against it, but he was able to get in. Entered William & Mary in the fall of 1970. We were living in Cleveland at the time with C&O, but we’d come to Williamsburg from time to time to visit our son, and we got to know people at William & Mary, including people in the business school. Were active in the board of the business school. Dean [Quitmire] was the first dean, and Marvin Stanley was assistant dean.
00:09:00 So we worked with the business school really from the time Tom started at William & Mary. And the more we worked with it, the more we fell in love with William & Mary.
Gerald: And Governor Robb appointed you as a—
Hays: Governor Robb, Chuck Robb, yes, uh-huh. When CSX was created in November of 1980, we moved to Richmond, and as a corporate citizen, we tried to get involved in local activities with things here in Richmond. And I had worked with Governor Robb on a couple of instances where he was promoting industries coming into Virginia, and I got to know Governor Robb that way. But it was a great surprise and pleasure when he nominated me to join the board.
Gerald: What are the responsibilities of members of the Board of Visitors at William & Mary? I know it varies from college to college.
Hays: Primarily to set broad guidelines on the university, to select the president, and actually to support the president in his day-to-day duties. The board members should deal with policy and not administration, which is what they have done, and I assume still do.
Gerald: How is the role of rector different than being just a member of the Board of Visitors?
Hays: Well, the rector is, in effect, the chairman of the board, and has a leadership role in bringing the board together, and having consensus of activities that affect the school.
Gerald: Who was president at the time when you first became a member of the board? Was it Thomas Graves?
Hays: President Graves had just resigned or had moved to Winterthur in Delaware. I think George Healy was the acting president, as I remember.
Gerald: Yes, okay.
Hays: Because just after I joined the board Anne Dobie Peebles was the rector, first female rector, and the first year I was on the board, we had a committee to select the new president, so that was really my first major job, working on the selection committee that ultimately picked Paul Verkuil.
Gerald: What were some of the major issues that the college faced during your time at the college?
Hays: One of the issues then, and it still is now, was the steadily declining support of the college by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Back in olden days the state was a major contributor to the college, but over the years that percentage of support had gradually and steadily declined. So at that time, as I remember, state support was somewhere in the 15 to 20%, which was really one of the major problems.
00:13:12 Another major problem on all college campuses in the ‘70s and ‘80s was the Vietnam War and the aftereffects of that. I shouldn’t say student unrest, but student concern about some of the activities of the school. But basically it was financial, I would say.
Gerald: You were involved with the selection of Paul Verkuil as president. Could you talk a little bit about that process, and why and how he was chosen?
Hays: Our committee met, actually we met at the Richmond airport in a C&O subsidiary, Beckett Aviation hanger in Richmond, which was convenient for the members of the board. We reviewed a lot of applicants for the job. Over the months reduced the number to a manageable level. Had candidates come in to meet with the committee. And Paul Verkuil seemed to be one of the outstanding candidates.
00:15:00 One of the things that I remember was a letter from Chief Justice Burger, Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who recommended Paul Verkuil for the job, and that, ironically, Chief Justice Burger later became chancellor of the college in the later part of my term on the board. But I would say that that letter probably may have been the tipping point, along with other recommendations from people, and his presentation, his being, his manner seemed to be consistent with what we were looking for for William & Mary.
Gerald: Would you talk about his presidency and the impact he had on the college?
Hays: I think the board generally felt that he did an outstanding job as president. He had ideas about changes in curriculum and updating fields of study. I don’t recall all of the details. But he seemed to be a forward thinker in what colleges should do to prepare students for their future. He was an eloquent spokesman for the college with the General Assembly and with different constituencies in the area. I would say that he did an excellent job in recommending the college in state affairs, in meeting with different groups, and by and large we were very pleased with his activities.
Gerald: It seems to be, after reading the “Flat Hat” and looking through some minutes of the Board of Visitors, that his resignation was seen to be sudden. Was there obviously, maybe, more insight from the board about his desire to resign? Could you explain the reasons behind his resignation?
Hays: Well, he resigned because he was offered the job as head of the Triple A, the American Automobile Association. As far as I know, there was no dissatisfaction on the board with his activity. It was somewhat of a surprise, I think, to members of the board. We recognized that he had been president for several years, I’ve forgotten, seven or eight years, which was really more than the average length of college presidents.
00:18:14 So I have no idea whether he was dissatisfied. I have no reason to think that he was. But as far as the board is concerned, no, there was no feeling on the board members that I know of that he should leave.
Gerald: He was married at the time to his wife Fran.
Gerald: And there are a number of rumors that we always hear about his wife about maybe yelling at students outside of the door, perhaps she had an affair with a member of the Board of Visitors. Is there anything about that that you’d care to comment on, about whether that played a role in his resignation or…?
Hays: I think, like other board members, we heard the rumors, but I’m not sure how much credence was given to it. But I can’t say that that, as far as I was concerned, had any role in what transpired. If other people had concerns and doubts, I’m not aware of it. There may have been. But as far as I was concerned, rumors are always going about with everyone, and this was just one more set of rumors.
Gerald: Okay. What was it like to work with Anne Dobie Peebles?
Hays: Delightful. She was a wonderful Southern lady, very slow, soft-spoken, but iron-willed. She had a love for William & Mary that is hard to match, and she really lived for William & Mary all her life. And she was pleased, and I think everyone else was, when she was named rector.
She, as rector, ran the board with an iron hand, but with a velvet glove. And maybe worried a little bit too much about some of the nuances, but it was delightful to be with her. I remember so many times that there may have been some discussion, and she would always listen respectfully and then come up with some solution that made everybody happy. So she was a delightful lady. I loved Anne Dobie.
Gerald: And you served with her as vice rector as well, is that correct?
Hays: Yes, yes. After my first year, why, I was elected vice rector. And again, it was with my full support that I did whatever she wanted.
Gerald: Okay. Now, when President Verkuil resigned, there was a search committee.
Gerald: And there were a number of prominent candidates that applied, including the dean of the law school, Timothy Sullivan, as well as the current and acting provost, Melvyn Schiavelli.
Hays: Right, Mel Schiavelli.
Gerald: Could you talk a little bit about President Sullivan’s selection as president?
Hays: We went through the usual interview of several people, bringing the applicants roster down to a small number. Then we ended up with Mr. Schiavelli and Tim Sullivan, and both of them were excellent candidates. We felt that either one would have been a good selection. Mel Schiavelli had done an excellent job as the provost. Tim Sullivan had had experience in state government, and then as the head of the law school. So we felt that it was a very difficult decision to make, and we spent a lot of time discussing the merits of the two, and ended up taking a vote in the blue room of Wren Hall.
00:23:05 And I don’t think I’m violating any confidence to say that the vote was very close, but Tim Sullivan was the winner, and so then we symbolically took another vote and unanimously selected him. But both candidates were excellent, and it was a hard decision to make. And it was even harder because Jim Brinkley was the vice rector at that time, and he and I had the assignment of meeting with the two candidates, telling one that he was not selected and telling the other one that he had been.
00:23:59 So we first met with Dean Schiavelli and his wife and daughter, and that meeting was one of the most difficult I have ever had, because he felt, and the family felt, that he should have been selected and would be selected. And when we had to tell them that he was not selected, why, it was a sad occasion for them and for us. And as I said, it was one of the most difficult meetings. It took us a long time to get over it. But the board had voted and our job was as the messenger, to convey the results of the vote.
00:24:55 So when that one was finished, we then called for Tim Sullivan and his wife Anne to meet with Jim Brinkley and me in the president’s house. Tim told me later that he expected to be called in with the news that he had lost, but when he and his wife walked in the door, the first words that I uttered were, welcome to your house. And that was a very pleasant thing to do, and they were overjoyed, as we were. That took away some of the disappointment and sadness of our previous meetings, but again conveying the wishes of the board, we welcomed them and began a very pleasant relationship with President Sullivan and Mrs. Sullivan.
Gerald: Now did Dr. Schiavelli and President Sullivan work well together in the transition?
Hays: As far as I know they did. Mr. Schiavelli stayed for, as I remember, about a year. He had agreed to stay. But we knew that sooner or later he would look elsewhere, which he did. But as far as I know they had a good relationship. Either of them might feel differently, but as far as the board was concerned, we saw no outward signs of discord. Mr. Schiavelli was a very able individual and did his job as best he could. So as far as I know, they worked well.
Gerald: Did President Sullivan being an alumnus of William & Mary help him in his effort to become president with the tercentenary coming up? A factor that may have played in?
Hays: Oh, it may have. I wouldn’t…well, I don’t know why people voted as they did. As far as I was concerned, it was one of many factors in deciding who should lead the school, so I can’t say it was overwhelming. It may have been for some people, I don’t know.
Gerald: Would you care to share who you selected for president on the first vote?
Hays: No. [Laughs.]
Gerald: Okay. Thank you. Talk a little bit about President Verkuil. I want to go back to President Verkuil and talk about his fundraising campaign, Campaign for the Fourth Century, with the, as you said, decreasing state support. And it seems like during President Verkuil’s time fundraising became an important part of the university.
Hays: When our son first attended William & Mary in 1970, William & Mary was having its first financial campaign. As I remember, the goal, I think, was $17 million, which I believe was raised. But that, in 1970, was somewhat unusual that a state school would have a campaign for outside funds.
00:28:54 By the time President Verkuil was on the scene, and the state support was declining, and the needs were increasing, it was obvious that we needed to have another campaign. So after a great deal of soul searching and discussions, we set out on a campaign to raise $125 million, which was later, the goal was later raised to $150 million. And again, that goal was surpassed.
President Verkuil did a very good job in leading that campaign and helping us to decide what areas we should emphasize, both physical factors, endowment, administration or faculty support and all the rest. So I would say he was an excellent quarterback in our discussions on that campaign.
Gerald: Okay. In July of 1988, you, along with some other dignitaries from Virginia attended the—were in England and attended the commemoration of King William’s and Queen Mary’s ascension to the throne.
Gerald: Could you please talk about that trip and the event?
Hays: Yes. That was a great trip. The background was that the British decided to have a celebration of 300 years since the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The countries involved were the Netherlands and the United States.
00:31:01 But there was no United States then. In the Netherlands it was obvious that the representative would be the queen, or the crown prince, or a member of the ruling family. In the United States there was a question as to who would represent the United States. And by act of Congress, the College of William & Mary was named as the official American representative to the celebration, so that’s how we got involved.
Gerald: Was there some lobbying involved with the Congress to get that done?
Hays: I don’t know. I was not aware of it at the beginning, so how that originated I can’t say.
00:31:53 But it was decided that the party, the William & Mary group would include the president and his wife, the rector and his wife, the chancellor, who was then Retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, the head of the alumni association, Ed Grimsley, and his wife, and Professor Thad Tate of the college faculty. That was the official group.
So one of the big questions at the beginning was whether the ladies should wear hats. And that probably got as much discussion as everything else put together. The president’s wife wore a hat. The other ladies did not.
00:32:52 CSX furnished an airplane that took the party from Williamsburg directly to London, so we flew in style. As an aside, the Chief Justice, who was by then retired, was a great talker, and I spent practically all of the six hours listening to Chief Justice Burger between Williamsburg and London. It was interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I didn’t spend much time with the rest of the party on the way over. But I heard a lot about Mr. Burger’s life and is activities.
00:33:59 One interesting thing, when he was named Chief Justice by President Nixon, he had never met President Nixon, so it was a surprise to him when he was named Chief Justice. But anyway, we had a great trip over. Accommodations were done well in London. We attended several functions. Our first dinner was with a group of selected lords and ladies, and counts and viscounts and so on, more titles than I had ever seen, much less broken bread with.
00:34:57 We had a tour of some of the historic spots in London that were involved in the, I guess, conquest of who became King William. One interesting activity was our group was invited out to Chequers, the country home of the prime minister, and we had lunch and spent the afternoon with Mrs. Thatcher and her husband, a delightful time. One of the participants at lunch was Winston Churchill II, who was the grandson of the Winston Churchill.
00:35:59 And which I didn’t know at the time, but later found that he was the son of Pamela Harriman, who was on our William & Mary Board of Visitors, so that sort of was an interesting sidelight. In fact young Winston was born at Chequers the night of a German air raid during, I think, 1940. But we had a delightful time with Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher, and thoroughly enjoyed it. One day President Verkuil and I were in London walking down the street going somewhere.
00:37:00 There was an overhang over the sidewalk. He didn’t see it. He hit his head on this overhang and collapsed, and I thought, well, that’s the end of all of our activities. It took several minutes for him to regain consciousness and get back. He apparently had no lasting effects. But at one time I thought our trip to London was going to end in disaster, but it didn’t. The highlight of the trip to London was the official ceremony celebrating the Glorious Revolution in Westminster Hall.
00:37:56 The American delegation was brought in first, and we were up on the high platform. Then the Dutch crown prince and his entourage came in, sat across from us on the other side. Then the queen and Prince Philip came in, were right between the two groups. She read a proclamation about the celebration and recognized the American visitors and the Dutch visitors, and we had a chance to see the queen firsthand. The audience in the main part of Westminster Hall, first row was the prime minister and her cabinet.
00:39:01 At the same time there was a meeting of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the heads of all of the nations that were involved in the Commonwealth, including one man who came in a bear skin from some island in the Pacific, but this was rather unusual. Everyone else in formal dress except one man, who had the bear skin on. Added color to the group. Then there were other members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons and other people. So that was a delightful occasion. We were quite honored to be there and to attend the queen.
00:39:57 Afterward there was a reception at someplace in London that Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales attended, so we all had a chance to chat with him while he was there. So this truly was a delightful occasion. We were very honored to represent the United States at such an occasion.
Gerald: Did meeting Prince Charles and meeting Margaret Thatcher help you lay the groundwork for her to become chancellor and for his visit to campus during the tercentenary?
Hays: I hope it did. We, you might say, laid the groundwork, although there were other discussions.
00:40:57 There had been… Later there was a group from William & Mary that met with the Draper Society where the queen attended. I was not there. But the queen attended there. And so when the tercentenary came along, we invited the queen, hoped that she could attend, but she could not, but Prince Charles did. So I like to think that the celebration of the Glorious Revolution may have been the first step in getting Prince Charles over here.
Gerald: And you mentioned Chancellor Burger. Can you talk a little bit about your working with him and your experiences with him?
Hays: He was a very imposing figure, and certainly added stature to our group. And he attended almost every graduation and function that we asked him to.
00:42:04 My discussions with him were very friendly and informal. We got to be great buddies. The first time I met him was just after I had joined the board and he and Mrs. Burger were at the Greenbrier in White Sulfur, West Virginia, and my wife and I happened to be there. And so we were able to give Chief Justice and Mrs. Burger a ride in the CSX helicopter, and we landed on the sunken gardens at William & Mary, and the rector, Anne Dobie Peebles, was there to meet us. And that was my first visit with him. But after that we got to be good friends, and as I said, he was a delight to chat with and I always enjoyed it.
Gerald: Could you talk a bit about when Prince Charles came to campus for the 300th anniversary? And also maybe elaborate on some of the other events, like the dedication of Thomas Jefferson’s statue.
Hays: After we started planning for the tercentenary, as I said, we invited the queen, but she was unable to attend. But she would have Prince Charles attend in her place. There was some apprehension about it because at the time he came it was just after the announcement that Prince Charles and Princess Diana had separated, and so there was a question as to whether he would be fully accepted on campus because of this, because Princess Diana was so beloved by the American public.
00:44:12 The question was whether he would be as warmly received. As a matter of fact, my wife was sitting in the audience with the British ambassador and his wife, and they both expressed concern that Prince Charles should not have made this trip because of the problems with Princess Diana. But he did anyway. And when he arrived that morning, was brought into the William & Mary Hall where he was to be recognized, it was obvious that he was quite concerned as well as the people, his staff with him.
00:45:00 Then we all, the procession, walked into William & Mary Hall, and as soon as he appeared there was a wild celebration, and you could just see Prince Charles relax. You could see that expression go from concern to pleasure. And so I’m sure it must have been a relief to him, as it was to the British ambassador and to the rest of us, that he was so warmly received. He was greeted like a rock star. We all had a chance to meet with him. Then afterward we had lunch and my wife and I were privileged to be at the table with Prince Charles and Governor Douglas Wilder, and President Sullivan and his wife, and one or two others.
00:46:00 And we found Prince Charles to be very pleasant. After I had retired I started working on my family genealogy and some of my ancestors are from England, so I had a chance to chat with Prince Charles about that, and we talked about genealogy, among other things, and he was very relaxed at lunch and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.
Gerald: Well, good. And tell us about some of the other events that happened on campus, just the general feeling on campus as well at that time.
Hays: Well, I always enjoyed going down there. We had a lot of occasions for meetings and celebrations of various kinds, and it was always a pleasure for me to go down and meet with students.
00:46:56 We had a student representative meet with the Board of Visitors every time, and frequently we would have student groups come in and present various things. Dean Sadler was the Dean of Students then, and he always brought people with him. So it was always a pleasure for me to go down and walk over the campus and meet with students. And our son had graduated in ’74, and so we thoroughly enjoyed that.
Gerald: I’m going to go back to some of the issues that, after reviewing the “Flat Hat,” some of the issues that come in. I thought it was ironic that some of the same things that you mentioned, like budget cuts and low faculty pay, they’re still, they’re coming back.
Hays: Oh, yeah.
Gerald: Some of these other issues that I’ve seen that’s still happening is sexual assault.
Gerald: Could you elaborate on that, and maybe some things, how the board—
Hays: There was not as much attention paid to sexual assault then as there is now. I don’t know whether there was less of it or whether we just didn’t hear about it. But that was always one of the concerns about the safety of the students. And the installation of the blue lights and the posts around campus that came during my time. But I can’t say that the problem was as prevalent as it is now. It might have been, but we didn’t hear about it, and there was no indication that it was a major problem then.
00:48:58 We were all concerned about it because having been young once, most of the Board of Visitors were aware of hormones in young people. But it was one of the many things dealing with student safety that always concerned us.
Gerald: Another thing that I saw was the recruitment. I saw the federal government was involved with making sure a lot of Southern institutions were recruiting minority faculty as well as increasing minority students.
Hays: Yeah, that’s right. Both the minorities and the Title IX equality of the sexes were important to us. I’d say that the Title IX, making sure that we had adequate programs for both women and men, probably came up first, before the minority problem.
00:49:58 We were aware that we should attract more minorities, but that really was not a major problem early on, at least early on in the time I was on the board. The Title IX women’s problem was. We spent a lot of time and had to eliminate some problems to make sure that we had a balanced schedule in conformity with state laws, or federal laws. So that was a problem. Later the question of minorities, also the question of student aid. That was always with us, right from the first, how do we ensure that people are able to afford William & Mary.
00:50:55 Of course there was a major differential between in state students and out of state students. I think the ratio was four to one. I don’t know what it is now. But it was then four to one. The General Assembly was always concerned about what percentage of students were in state, and the question raised whether 65% or 70.
There were some people in the General Assembly that wanted 80% in state students. But we tried to point out that a lower percent would give us more money because the out of state students paid so much more. So that was, again, one of the financial problems. We always had financial problems. We always had more needs than we had money. That was from day one on, and I’m sure still is.
Gerald: Could you also talk a little bit about the, as you said, student unrest and protests? But one of the issues that was really happening at this time in colleges all around the country was divestment in South Africa.
Hays: That came up periodically, but I don’t recall that it was a major issue. It was one. There were groups on campus that from time to time would have crusades about one issue or another. There were the environmental problems, although the mineral, the coal problem was not what it became later. But there was always concerns about one issue or another.
00:52:55 And South Africa was one. I don’t recall that it was a paramount issue, but it was there. It was there.
Gerald: And this may be getting into a little bit of details, but could you talk a little bit about the physical growth of the campus at that time when you were on the Board of Visitors and rector, the campus master plan?
Hays: One of the things that we spent a lot of time on was what should be the proper entrance to the college, whether it was the historical triangle. At one time there was a plan to make the entrance along Richmond Road the main entrance, and there were plans drawn for a design for that.
00:53:57 There was always the question of how can we get additional buildings for various groups. There was always concern that the dormitories and fraternities should be upgraded or rebuilt, even before the fire that devastated the one residence hall. The arts center. This was an ongoing problem of what should the campus look like, how can we utilize the space that we have, what do we do with Lake Matoaka and the areas along the water.
00:55:01 I don’t recall any specific problems, but that was always a question of how can we get new buildings, how can we get the general assembly to approve new buildings or rebuilding, rehabilitating buildings. That was constant.
Gerald: Did you have to lobby? Did you, as individual Board of Visitors, work with members of the General Assembly, to push forward William & Mary’s goals?
Hays: We would meet with members of the General Assembly every year. We’d usually have a day that we’d have a lot of people go to Richmond. I think a lot of us tried to mention William & Mary whenever we were with state officials or members of the General Assembly. I know I did.
00:56:00 I talked a lot about it, and I’m sure others did, too. That was just a part of being a state institution, although it got so we realized it was not a state supported institution, it was a state supplemented institution, which, of course, even less support these days.
Gerald: President Reveley likes to refer to it as state forgotten.
Gerald: I also saw as just something that the students were upset about that Paul Verkuil implemented a student drug testing policy.
Hays: That was a major issue at one time. He had strong feelings about that. Any time you do anything differently, people are always saying, well, you’re infringing on my rights.
00:57:02 And the drug problem was coming along. AIDS, this was the beginning of the problem of AIDS and AIDS treatment, and yeah, it was a problem. I don’t know that the Board of Visitors—I think the Board of Visitors supported the president, but I don’t recall that it was a major problem with us.
Gerald: Okay. And to go back a little bit over the Title IX, there was also a student athletic fee implemented. Did Title IX play a role in needing…?
Hays: Yeah, that, the student athletic fee was always questioned. Every time the budget came up or the planning, it was always, well, that’s too much. We shouldn’t have the students pay for that.
00:58:01 They ought to find another way. We tried to balance having a reasonable fee and still having as many organized, supported sports programs as we could. And as you know, some of the programs are college approved, but not college supported. For example, our granddaughter was an avid cyclist, and they had a bicycle group that was not—it was sanctioned by the school, but was not supported. And there were other problems where we had to decide what we could afford and make that jibe with what we wanted, and have as many sports as we could, again, with Title IX in the background.
Gerald: And one thing that happened outside of the college, but I’m sure it had a chilling effect on the campus, was the Colonial Parkway murders.
Hays: Yes, yes, yeah. Yeah, and that, again, was one of the things that came along that we abhorred, but recognized had happened. I don’t know anything more I can say about it except that it happened.
Gerald: Just the last few questions. What do you consider your greatest accomplishments as the rector?
Hays: Well, I think selecting two able presidents. I think the fact that the board worked in harmony to establish programs and policies, because later there was a period of time when the board was at odds, there was factions of the board. And we had an excellent board with excellent, conscientious people. They didn’t always agree, but they disagreed agreeably. So I like to think that our policies were done with the best of intentions and in harmony. And I think that’s true of most leaders that like to think that the machinery works well and that you’re accomplishing things without factions and diversity.
01:01:08 Now, maybe that comes from my corporate experience, but I like to think that our board was an excellent board that worked well together.
Gerald: No, it makes perfect sense. And you answered some of this, but the last few questions, and you can elaborate if there’s any other areas, but what are some of your fondest memories of your service to the college?
Hays: Oh, I have so many. I always enjoyed the board dinners the night before the official board meetings. One of the things that we did in organization that raised some questions.
01:01:58 The board has committees, and then the committees would meet, and then later report to the full board. I changed that and I made every committee a committee of the whole, that every member of the board was a member of every committee. What this did was to extend the time of the committees, but then, in the formal reports, there was no need to make a detailed report, so that the committee meetings were longer and the official board meetings were shorter. And that way everyone had a chance to participate in all the functions—student life, finance, and all of the rest.
01:02:57 My concern was that when you’re a member of a committee, you can see the inner workings of, for example, finance, but if you are not on that committee, all you heard was a summary or a synthesis of results at the main board meeting. And I felt that the board members ought to be involved in every facet of administration, so I had committees of the whole. Now they’ve gone back to separate committees, which is fine, but the committee of the whole worked well, I thought, at my time.
Gerald: And you mentioned one difficult moment. What are some of your more difficult memories of William & Mary?
Hays: I’m sorry?
Gerald: Some of your more difficult memories of being at William & Mary.
Hays: I don’t recall any that were… Well, I guess the most difficult problem was telling Dean Schiavelli that he lost the presidency. That, to me, was the most heart-wrenching. By the same token, telling Tim Sullivan that he was the new president was one of the most satisfying, so I guess those have to be really the antithesis of poles apart.
Gerald: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience at William & Mary?
Hays: No. I was very pleased to be named to the board by Governor Robb and then reappointed by Governor Baliles. I considered it one of the high points of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like to think that we contributed to the college life with the things that we did.
01:05:02 And it was a great pleasure. Richmond’s not that far from Williamsburg. I spent a lot of time on Interstate 64 back and forth for meetings and between times. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Gerald: Now you were elected both vice rector and rector.
Hays: Yes, yes.
Gerald: Were you nominated by your colleagues on the board?
Hays: Yeah. They select the rector and the vice rector, yeah.
Gerald: That must have been quite an honor for you.
Hays: It is. I was selected vice rector my second year on the board, and I was very pleased with that. There were a lot of delightful people that had been on the board, and I think back. Pamela Harriman was great. Gil Grosvenor of “National Geographic,” Najeeb Halaby, Pan Am, Jim Ukrop, Jim Brinkley, Ed Grimsley. I can go on and on and on.
01:06:06 They were all great people. There was not a person on the board that I didn’t like.
Gerald: Are you still friendly and still stay in touch with some of the board members?
Hays: I still keep up with some of them, yeah. I don’t get around as much anymore. Once you get past 90, it sort of slows down your travel, but yes, I try to keep—in fact Ed Grimsley, who was the rector later, lives here at Cedarfield.
Gerald: Oh, okay.
Hays: So if you’re going to all rectors, why, you’ll be back to Cedarfield.
Gerald: Have you been involved with the current campaign at all?
Hays: Only through my son.
Gerald: Only through your son, okay.
Hays: And support. I’ve tried to support the last campaign and since then. So we contribute more to William & Mary, by far, than anything else. But I’m not involved except hearing my son talk about it, and how much more I should contribute.
Gerald: I want to go back to your railroading career, because when I did some searching on you to do background, I see that you wrote a book, “Just Call Me Hays: Recollections, Reactions and Reflections on 42 Years of Railroading.” Could you discuss that a little bit, that book?
Hays: Well, when I was about ready to retire, my successor, John Snow, as well as some of the other officers, said you ought to write down some of your experiences.
01:07:57 And so I worked with Tom Hoppin, who was vice president of PR, and we put things together, because after I became president in 1971, in the first year we had a coal strike that eliminated half of our business, because coal was half of our business, and they had a coal strike. But we eliminated the dividend, we fired half the people, we did everything that we could. The second year I had problems with the individual who was chairman of the board, Cyrus Eaton. The board questioned some of Mr. Eaton’s expenditures as being not related to the company.
01:08:58 And so I had the job of running that down and speaking with Mr. Eaton about how he could eliminate some of his costs. The next year, really my mentor, who was the former vice president of finance, later vice chairman of the board, and really the one who brought me up, was asked by other members to leave the board. I was president. I wasn’t the one that asked him to leave, but I had that trauma.
Two years later, the then president tried to lead a cabal to get rid of me so he could be the chairman. So in four years, I had a coal strike, losing my mentor, having a problem with the chairman, having a problem with the president. After that I figured I could handle anything. But so be it.
01:10:09 [End of recording.]
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