July 5, 2010 in City

Whitworth’s new president looks to continue university’s steady path

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Whitworth University’s new president, Beck Taylor, was quick to tell faculty and staff to call him by his first name.
(Full-size photo)

About Beck Taylor

• Grew up “all over the country” due to his father’s career in health care administration.

• Education: Undergraduate degree from Baylor University; master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University.

• Research: Has written more than 40 academic and professional articles. Executive producer of documentary “What Poor Child is This?” due out this year.

• Last job: Dean of the Brock School of Business at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

• Family: Married to Julie Anne Dearing Taylor for 17 years. They have three children, Zach, 14, Lauren, 11, and Chloe, 3.

Beck Taylor, the 18th president of Whitworth University, spent his first day on the job Thursday.

He succeeded Bill Robinson, who retired after 17 years in the top spot. Taylor, 40, on Thursday met with faculty and staff, attended a downtown Rotary meeting and sat down for several interviews.

Q. Biggest differences between the South and the Northwest?

A. It’s a little more casual. Here, relationships matter more than stations in life, or your titles. I had a meeting with faculty and staff and one of the very first questions was, “How would you prefer to be addressed?” I was quick to tell them, “Call me by my first name.”

Q. What are your early goals?

A. Get to know the institution. Listen more than speak. I did not feel I was hired with a mandate for change. No doubt the university has aspirations. No doubt the university wants to continue to expand its reputation, but I wasn’t hired to change a lot of things because things are working very well.

Q. You blog, you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and you’re working on a documentary. Talk about your use of media.

A. Half of Whitworth’s alumni have graduated in the last 20 years. We need to make sure we’re using formats and media that connect to our alumni. We’ll (use) multiple approaches.

Q. Bill’s big shoes. Talk about those.

A. The reason Whitworth is in such a great position of strength is because of Bill Robinson’s leadership. I would rather succeed a successful president than one who was not. I am eternally grateful for the work that Bill and Bonnie have done here. In honoring that, I look forward to developing my own leadership style, my own personality on campus and working with the community to move forward. I’m not Bill Robinson, but I think I share some traits with Bill.

Q. Did he give you any advice on his way out?

A. “Love the students.”

Q. How do you get everything done?

A. I have been blessed with the ability to get by with little sleep. I usually arise about 4 and try to get in bed by 10. I use the mornings to write and read.

Q. Will there be any adjustments to living on campus?

A. We think it’s important for the president to have immediate access to campus, but it also creates some challenges in the raising of our children. Zach, Lauren and Chloe did not choose to enter into the public limelight. So we need to make sure we build some protective space for them.

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