On Monday April 5, President Roger Taylor announced his plan to make way for a new President of Knox College. In an e-mail addressed to the students of Knox College, Taylor stated that his announcement would prepare the college’s trustees for the future. Taylor will retain his position until the end of the 2010-2011 academic year if necessary. “It is a privilege to serve as Knox’s president,” he stated in the e-mail.
Q. How did you become president?
A. I had retired as a partner in my law firm in 1999. Anne [Taylor] and I were splitting our time between our apartment in Chicago and our farm in Fulton County. In 2001, the president of the college retired unexpectedly and several of the trustees said, “Roger, you’re not doing much, why don’t you be interim president?” So I said to John Podesta ‘71, “Why don’t you come and be interim president?” He came to Chicago and we had a very good meeting. He just said he had too many commitments in Washington. Brenda Fineberg instructed me to apply for the job [of president]. It’s consuming. On February 16, when I became the real president, a bunch of people were outside my office waiting to see me.
Q. What has been the most rewarding part of the job?
A. I get to meet the families of every high school student when they’re prospective, greet them when they come to Knox and watch them develop emotionally and intellectually. That’s very satisfying. Secondly, because of the office I hold, the simplest gesture is important. If I congratulate a student for giving a solid presentation, or go to a volleyball game or compliment Dining Services…not because of me, but because of the office I hold.
Q. What advice would you give to Knox students aspiring to the position of President of the College?
A. Work real hard to learn how to write, which I’ve gotten pretty good at. Work real hard to learn how to stand up and talk to groups, which I’m reasonably good at. Work real hard to become more patient, which I’m terrible at. Understand that you cannot do all the things that you should do, so just pick out one or two things at a time…If you try to do everything you should do or everything everybody wants you to do, you’ll go crazy.