After looking through numerous applications, conducting 15 interviews (by phone, via Skype and in person) and meeting with two candidates on campus, Cabrini College has named a new president. On Feb. 13, 2014, Dr. Don Taylor was named Cabrini College’s eighth president. While the process was long, Taylor stuck out to the Presidential Search Committee from the start.
“When Dr. Taylor walked into the interview room and began to tell the Search Committee about his background and qualifications, we immediately took notice,” Dr. Sheryl Fuller-Espie, biology professor and member of the Presidential Search Committee, said in an e-mail interview. “We had been interviewing candidates for hours already on the day that his interview was scheduled, but none of the other applicants gained the same level of attention from the group compared to Dr. Taylor.”
The excitement was a mutual feeling throughout the committee, which consisted of faculty, staff, Board of Trustees and Alumni Board members as well as Student Body President Greg Robinson. The Search Committee was in charge of identifying candidates that fit Cabrini, but also bring a sense of innovation and creativity to higher education.
Robinson had a similar reaction to seeing Taylor interview. “I was very excited for Don Taylor because he had a very innovative and push-forward type of attitude and that’s where Cabrini needs to be.”
“I was sitting literally on the edge of my seat, and the time evaporated,” Fuller-Espie said. “I think that is always a positive sign when you are interviewing someone of this caliber. I kept thinking to myself that Dr. Taylor really ‘gets us’ and he had done his homework.”
Taylor visited the campus last month and met with multiple facets of the Cabrini community, including a town-hall style meeting with students, faculty and staff as well as a personal meeting with the Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Board. Undoubtedly, people took notice of his background and leadership style.
“I believe that Dr. Taylor will be decisive, but only after careful analysis and in-depth consultation with relevant constituents,” Fuller-Espie said. “He is a scientist, afterall, so his training is based on reviewing critically all available data before coming to a final conclusion.”
“I believe that when he starts next year he is gong to hit the ground running and just start making decisions and making them quick,” Robinson said. “He’s definitely a go-getter and he’s definitely someone that you have to keep up with.”
While on campus, Robinson did hold some reservations about Taylor in the presidential role.
“I was a little hesitant about his ability to let others give their opinion, because he is a very outspoken individual,” Robinson said. “But after sitting down with him and the executive board of student government, he said ‘this isn’t about me, I don’t want this to be about me, I want this to be hear you guys have to say.’ That’s when my reservations went away.”
There will, of course, be some adjustment among the community as this process comes to a close. Deb Takes became interim President on July 3, 2013. The Search Committee started looking at candidates in August of the same year. Almost one year later, Taylor will begin his presidency on July 1, 2014. Taylor is a businessman, and a president unlike ones in the past. Robinson is confident about the change and transition that the entire college will go through; noting that Takes has been an incredible help for all that will be involved.
“I feel like now she’s gotten the college prepared for that,” Robinson said, “it will be an easier transition for Don and the institution will get used to it in a more permanent way.”
There are many things that the entirety of the college is looking forward to and much of the community believes that Taylor will be the right man for the job of making Cabrini a first choice school.
“I look forward to opportunities to show regional, state and national audiences why Cabrini College is truly extraordinary,” Fuller-Espie said. “Dr. Taylor understands our mission well, and he will ensure that as we continue to gain momentum with the strengthening of existing programs and the development of new programs that we will never lose sight of who we are.” Fuller-Espie also said that she is certain that Taylor will work effectively with the Admissions Department to address enrollment issues, though the biggest thing she believes he will bring to Cabrini is leadership.
“We need strong leadership and administrative stability at Cabrini College,” she said. “I think Dr. Taylor is an entrepreneur that has his finger on the pulse of higher education with a vision of what we will need to do to remain competitive in the Philadelphia marketplace while remaining committed to delivering an education of the heart.”
While Taylor was not available for an interview, he is looking forward to meeting the students when he visits campus on March 20 to March 22.