by Saimah Shareef
Known as “DT” or Don to faculty and staff and “Doc” to his previous students, Benedictine University provost Dr. Donald Taylor has decided to accept the position as president of Cabrini College in Philadelphia.
“I’ve loved every single day and had a wonderful time here. This place will always be in my heart, but I am looking forward to becoming president. It has been my life-long dream from the time I was at the University of Memphis to one day be a college president,” shared Taylor.
Taylor began his 22-year journey at Benedictine University as a faculty biology professor and worked his way up to program director, department chair, dean, and then provost. When the opportunity to become president of Cabrini College presented itself, Taylor decided to take his next step towards fulfilling his life-long dream.
According to a press release issued by Cabrini College on Thursday, February 13th, Thomas P. Nerney, Chair of the Board of Trustees conveyed his enthusiasm to have Taylor on board.
“Don Taylor exhibits the energy, focus and commitment vital to fulfilling Cabrini’s mission of academic excellence, leadership development, and a commitment to social justice,” said Nerney in a press release.
Taylor is expected to begin his role as president at Cabrini College on July 1st of this year.
In 1991, Benedictine received a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to start a science education program, which is when Taylor started his Benedictine career. The program was aimed at improving the undergraduate research opportunities for the biology students, which were scarce in comparison to the chemistry and biology research opportunities.
During the 15 years that Taylor taught and oversaw the biology program as director, the school received three grants. There was a point during that period of time when 75 percent of Taylor’s students went on to either medical school or to earn their Ph.D.
Many of his former students still keep in touch with Taylor on a regular basis, especially the students who worked for him in the research lab. He described his relationship with his students as one of “mentor-apprentice,” expressing that the bond they shared was more than that of just a teacher and student.
Dr. William Carroll, President of Benedictine University, shared his experience working with Taylor, as they have worked alongside each other since day one.
“Don has good people skills, great experience when it comes to fundraising through grants. He has got great faculty skills, the faculty loves him, and he has moved the academic area ahead,” explained Carroll.
Throughout his 22-year career at Benedictine University, Taylor has taught almost 1,500 students. He has seen the university grow from the “itty bitty college,” as he calls it, to the large liberal arts university it is now. Throughout his journey, he has not forgotten to keep sight on his true philosophy, which is that it’s always about the students.
Taylor sees his upcoming position as president as a way of giving back to the community. As young students themselves, Taylor and his wife were both first-generation students. They grew up in rural Tennessee and were from low-income families in which education was not a priority. He recalls that there were people in his community, in his church that pitched in and helped him and his wife to reach even that very first semester of college.
“To me, the presidency at this point and the next 20 years before I retire is a way to give back. Cabrini’s mission is all about missionary work, immigrants, first-generation students, low income and providing opportunities for students who may not otherwise have an opportunity for education. I’m looking forward to providing all kinds of opportunities for students there and that are in Philadelphia that want to come to Cabrini to get a values-based education. It’s a way to come full circle,” expressed Taylor.
Taylor sees his presidency at Cabrini College as the last phase of his journey in which he can give back to the community as he was once assisted in gaining an education.