Remembering the 18th: Taylor’s final salute

Taylor reflects on his final year as president

May 25, 2011

After President Roger Taylor announced his retirement last year, he fondly looked back at his last year at Knox.

“Legacy is a fancy word for a Fulton County farm boy, but I like to think that people will remember that I am the guy who fixed the bell and said we got to quit looking down at our shoes when asked where we went to college,” Taylor said.

When asked what he is doing to end his year, Taylor responded, “Doing my regular work, sprinting to the finish.”

This sprint has included signing all the diplomas for graduating seniors, reviewing faculty and personnel review files and making sure a class of 375 students will attend the school in the fall. Taylor has also spent a significant amount of time giving speeches.

“More organizations want me to give speeches on the way out than in prior years,” Taylor said. Among those organizations are Carl Sandburg College, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club and a few local radio stations.

Taylor has tried to avoid too much fanfare.

“When I said I was retiring last spring, I told Beverly Holmes, the Vice President for Advancement, that Anne [Taylor] and I didn’t want any hoopla,” Taylor said. “[We] just wanted to do our jobs and then salute and disappear.”

Despite this request, a scholarship was set up in his name to help first-generation students afford college. The Taylor Presidential Scholarship has been able to raise around $1.2 million of the $1.5 million goal.

“I thought people were going to honor my request: no hoopla,” Taylor said. “It was a total and humbling surprise.”

Taylor has also seen other awards and recognitions for his service. These recognitions started in the fall during homecoming when Taylor was given a jersey and was allowed to flip and keep the coin from the game.

Student Senate also decided that the newly renovated Student Lounge in the basement of Seymour Union should bear his name.

“[Student Senate President] Sam [Claypool] started talking about naming it, and I said to myself, ‘What the dickens is she talking about?’ We’re not naming it; we are just going to cut a ribbon,” Taylor said. “I was totally surprised because around here it is impossible to keep a secret.”

The week of May 16-22, the City of Galesburg proclaimed that it would be Roger and Anne Taylor Week. As part the festivities, the Taylors were given a key to the city.

When Taylor retires, his first priority is to drive his Ford F-150 enough to keep the battery charged. He also plans on fixing a fence on his farm and do some traveling, as per Anne Taylor’s request.

The farmhouse in which Taylor grew up for the first ten years of his life will see more of the couple. The farm has been in the family since 1857 and was renovated in the ‘90s after Taylor purchased it from his uncle.

“You won’t see Anne or me on campus for two years,” Taylor said. He hopes to allow President-elect Teresa Amott to do her job without distracting her with his presence.

While Taylor will play no role during the start of Amott’s presidency, he has still helped Amott during the transition period. He has left a transition file for Amott with contact information in case she needs anything.

The Taylors will completely remove themselves from the school, and they will not serve a role on the Board of Trustees or as pro-bono council for the school.

For Taylor, his most memorable moment at Knox was “meeting Anne at eight o’clock on the evening of Sept. 7, 1959, in what was then called the women’s gymnasium.”

“I’ll miss most everything, particularly the interactions with the students,” Taylor said.

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