Professor Leads Rotary

By Dar Haddix

The Connection

George Taylor, Ph.D., a climatologist who teaches at George Mason University, claims he’s “a little different” from most Rotarians — but that didn’t stop the Rotary club from electing him as the new president of the Fairfax Rotary Club.

Taylor, known as “Bucket,” a nickname his dad tagged him with as a boy, said that members of “academia” such as himself don’t normally get involved with organizations like the Rotary. Taylor believes that increased participation could “broaden the sphere of influence” of the academic community. Petina Dixon, a public relations representative for Rotary International, said approximately 10 percent or about 15,000 Rotarians are involved in education.

Taylor described typical Rotarians as “small business entrepreneurs, the city manager, or maybe someone from the banking industry,” He believes his membership allows businesspeople to “see what academia has to offer.”

“The Rotary is a way to return the investment the community made in me,” said Taylor, who said he has often benefited from involvement in community organizations while growing up, such as the Boy Scouts. Taylor, whose grandfathers were both ministers, says he is also continuing a “long family history of community service.” He has been a Rotarian for several years, and said that Rotarians “contribute when asked,” and that “people can get carried away — I have to be careful what I ask for.”

“ROTARY LIKES TO RECRUIT people with a certain level of notoriety,” said Taylor, citing the demands placed on Rotary members as the reason that Rotary membership is by invitation only. “The Rotary needs people who have demonstrated a commitment to the community already.” Otherwise, coordinating a group of volunteers can be harder than “herding cats,” said Irby Hollans, the club’s executive secretary.

“The average age of our Rotarians is 56, so they’re usually in the top echelon of whatever they do,” said Hollans. He indicated that each club is based on the talents of the members and the needs and interests of the area, and that members contribute money to causes if they can’t donate time.

“Each group tries to tap the talents of each individual,” said Hollans.

IN ADDITION TO the rotary club, Taylor serves on several science advisory boards and committees for organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Chemistry Council, and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, and conducts research for the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and the NASA.

The Rotary’s involvement with other organizations allows them to “help a lot more people,” said Major Bob Lancaster of the Salvation Army, also a club member. The club supports many local causes, including awarding scholarships. International causes include the Polio Plus Program, which works to eradicate polio worldwide. Meetings are Mondays from 12:15-1:30 p.m. at the Lamplighter restaurant on Jermantown Road in Fairfax.