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With Appointment of New VPAA, College Prepares for the Life of Reilly

By Marco Santana

Reilly, Kevin

Incoming Beacon College vice president for academic affairs Dr. Kevin Reilly understands that to avoid disrupting a good thing, it’s going to take a lot of input from the people who are already on the ground.

Consider the next couple of months his listening tour.

“I definitely have to learn,” he said. “I don’t want to come in and move too quickly.”

Reilly last month was appointed the school’s newest VPAA. He will take over for longtime provost Dr. Shelly Chandler, who will depart after more than 20 years with the school.

Reilly’s time with Beacon College will formally begin on June 17 but he has already visited the school a handful of times to meet with others on campus and get a sense of its relationship with Leesburg.

Committee member Dustin Boise said it was a challenge to find someone with the right qualifications alongside an understanding of Beacon College students’ unique needs.

“Striking the right balance between experience, leadership skills and a commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment was a key consideration,” he said. “We worked diligently to assess all candidates against these criteria, seeking someone who could navigate the complexities of this role effectively.”

The position, which was posted in top academic journals, drew nearly 100 qualified applicants. The committee sifted through applications, met periodically and whittled down the applications. A select group were then invited for a series of virtual interviews before the committee invited two to visit campus.

That was early last month and Reilly was approved by the board of trustees before the school’s Feb. 21 announcement of his hiring.

“He has an exceptional combination of academic expertise, leadership experience and alignment with Beacon College’s values and vision,” Boise said.

Reilly comes to Beacon after rising in the ranks at Ferrum College in Virginia. He started his career there as a professor in 2002 and will depart as the school’s vice president of academic affairs. The small, private school is similar in size to Beacon, which should aid in his transition.

“He ascended the organizational ladder,” committee member Michael Fallon said. “He will add immense value to our student and faculty experience.”

The departure of Chandler does leave a gap in leadership’s institutional knowledge.

She has been involved in the school’s accreditation and has overseen curriculum and academics. But Reilly said his job was not going to be to replace Chandler as much as it will be to enhance the work she did.

That means a lot of observation, he said.

“I am replacing a very wonderful provost in Dr. Shelly Chandler,” he said. “I want to learn the culture and policy. I want to start by having the conversations and by listening to see what’s going well and then see if there are some things where there may be room for growth and opportunity.”

As he prepares to join the team, Reilly said the school’s approach to learning attracted him to the position in the first place.

“I was drawn by the mission and the purpose of Beacon College,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place.”

In addition, Reilly said he has been impressed by how the school’s leadership team has a unified sense of purpose for the school and its offerings.

“There is great direction here and knowledge,” he said. “You can see that in how Beacon has been growing. They are in a position of strength and it’s an exciting place to be.”

Reilly’s decision to upend his life and move to Central Florida for this position was influenced by several factors, he said.

However, perhaps one of the biggest was the reception and the experience he had when he visited.

“The mission was what got me but I was also so charmed by the students,” he said. “They are lovely and hardworking and a joy to be around. I also see that in the people who come here to give and the people who care. It’s so appealing to me.”