Peter Wojtechko, Jr.
Fr. Paul Taylor, O.S.B. began his assignment as SVC Executive Vice President on June 15, after the preceding Vice President for Institutional Advancement left in June of last year. Taylor was appointed to the position by SVC President Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B., and Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, O.S.B., after previously serving as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and acting Dean of Students.
Taylor is “well-qualified, and [as an SVC graduate, is] a person that knows the college,” Br. Norman said. “As a member of the monastery, he has the capacity to work closely with the abbot and with other members of the monastery.”
Besides having “lots of energy,” Br. Norman also said that “Paul has an extensive background in education and in the areas of fundraising. He has a doctoral degree in higher education administration from Boston College, has worked in the college in the fundraising position here before and has extraordinarily strong talents in working with alumni.” Taylor’s strong relationships with members of the board of directors and other external relationships also made Taylor the right choice for the position, according to Br. Norman.
The major function of the Executive Vice President, Taylor said, is “to elicit support—financial support primarily—for the current and future students of Saint Vincent, which means, [for] scholarships, buildings, whatever kind of funds that people would like to give” to advance the mission of SVC, from helping to pay the bills to creating professorship endowments.
Taylor said that he structures his duties into several major divisions. One of them, for “foundations, government and corporate relations,” puts together proposals for funding from foundations, corporations and local, state and federal government. Another division is “institutional advancement,” which he said “encompasses all kinds of pieces in order to solicit gifts to support the college,” including all manners of fundraisers, such as the Phone-A-Thon, as well as events and travel to visit alumni and donors.
“The alumni office” is a third division of Taylor’s job, which is responsible for keeping connections with graduates, as well as creating opportunities for building connections between alumni and putting together alumni events. This is connected to the fourth element of Taylor’s duties, “events and conferences,” which includes alumni homecoming and events with alumni chapters in cities away from SVC.
A fifth division of Taylor’s duties are not for the school, but for the development and outreach of the seminary and abbey alongside the archabbot, as Taylor continues to function as the Executive Director of Archabbey Education Apostolates and Endowment. Taylor also remains director of the Gristmill and teaches one course a year in the monastery to the novice class on Saint Vincent history.
As for his Executive Vice President position, “Part of working with the development area means working with the Master Plan, making sure that that goes forward,” Taylor said. “And I would say that as executive vice president, I work very closely with Br. Norman on a lot of things,” which Br. Norman said include such things as alumni homecoming, development of proposals to external entities and various other alumni events and fundraising work.
“The title of Executive Vice President,” Br. Norman added, “is indicative that in all those external relationships, he represents the president of the college in his work.”
Taylor said that the “two major goals” for his office this year are to complete the fundraising for the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion by the time its construction is completed in December and to focus on meeting their goals to fulfill their need with the Annual Fund, a fundraising component which includes the Phone-A-Thon and contributions from donors who give consistent annual gifts.
Endowment building for scholarship or professorship by seeking individuals interested in making a gift to the college also continues to be a priority for the office.
The biggest challenges Taylor said he perceives in his new office are the “external forces like the economy affecting our alumni and donors.” He said that “in general, our alumni are very faithful and very good. To some, [the economy] is fine; to many, it is not seen as stable.” This makes it difficult for some donors to agree to consistently give an annual donation, or else some might be willing to make a donation but are unable to do so at the time.
Challenges aside, Taylor said that the best part of his job is befriending “so many good people” for himself and for the college.
“I have an opportunity to welcome many people to Saint Vincent, to get to know them and to become friends with them,” Taylor said, “and I have opportunities to travel to visit people where they live,” such as alumni chapters in various areas around the country.
Taylor graduated from SVC in 1987 with a degree in mathematics, having had Br. Norman as a math teacher. Though he had considered but not planned on becoming a priest when he began college, Taylor then entered the monastery, studied theology and divinity and was ordained. He received his master’s degree in mathematics from Duke University before earning a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College. He returned to SVC in 1996 to begin working in admissions, where he reported to Br. Norman.
Although he originally planned on teaching mathematics, Taylor said that administration eventually seemed to be his calling. He still hopes to be able to teach some day.
Taylor said, “I think success in what someone does is dependent upon how comfortable they feel at home, that they belong. Once someone feels like they belong and they feel comfortable at home, their success will multiply exponentially.” Taylor said he believes the sense of home that the monastic community has here “trickles over to the college side” and that Saint Vincent provides him with “a sense of home that I think has helped me to do my jobs and my responsibilities.”