Two pivotal moments of Barry Taylor ’70’s college career occurred unexpectedly, and a third one was of his own making. Now, Taylor is giving back to his alma mater to help provide similarly transformative experiences for today's students.
Taylor's first big Dickinson moment arrived right out of the gate, when his first-year roommate, Jim Schoeninger '70, told him that the men's freshman soccer team did not have enough players to get on the field. While Taylor had played tennis and served as basketball-team statistician in high school, he hadn't intended to play sports in college, and he had never played soccer—or any team sport—before. But when Shoeninger asked him to join the soccer team, Taylor decided to give it a shot.
With help from Schoeninger and teammate Lee Keller ’70, Taylor learned the game. And while he wasn't a star player (“I was on the field when we were way ahead, way behind, or down to the last man”), he remained on the team during all four undergraduate years because he enjoyed the camaraderie, excitement and sense of accomplishment that came from team play.
Another memorable moment arrived during a class in his major, political science. The professor, John Warner, said that Taylor’s work was good, but not as good as it could be, so he gave Taylor a “C” and challenged him to work to his full potential. “Fortunately,” Taylor says, “this professor took an interest in me, kicked my butt and became a mentor. That’s perhaps one of the best things about a smaller liberal-arts college like Dickinson, where there are many opportunities for students to interact on a personal level with faculty.”
Junior year is typically an exciting time for Dickinsonians like Taylor. From an early age, he’d started Sundays with the travel section of the The New York Times, a habit he continued through college. And the summer before Dickinson, he’d piled into a used station wagon with two friends and embarked on a 14,000-mile road trip around the United States—a practice run for the international travel adventures he planned to have one day. Unfortunately, back then, junior year abroad wasn’t possible for a fall-sport athlete. So Taylor fashioned his own abroad experience.
After Taylor’s friend and soccer teammate, Lee Keller ’70, spent a summer in Africa through the Operation Crossroads Africa program,Taylor applied and spent 10 weeks working on a community-service project in Ethiopia after his sophomore year. “It was quite a destination for my very first trip abroad, because it is so different,” Taylor recalls. “I learned a lot about myself, as well as the world. It was an important part of my education.”
Taylor finished college with departmental and Phi Beta Kappa honors, which he earned as a four-year student-athlete. He also was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma and served two years a resident advisor.
Taylor graduated during the Vietnam War, and he had a high draft lottery number. Rather than joining the Navy, he signed up for the merchant marine. Taylor worked as a deck hand on oil tankers and Great Lakes ore boats, led a Crossroads Africa program for high students to Grenada, spent five months as a crew member on a sailing schooner in the Caribbean and visited Europe for a summer. Taylor next enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review.
After law school, Taylor worked first as a litigator and then as a corporate and securities lawyer representing technology companies and venture capital investors in Silicon Valley. In 2010, he joined Warburg Pincus, a global private-equity firm. During his 10 years at Warburg, he worked on investments in the U.S., India and China, traveling to meet companies and his Warburg colleagues in those countries eight or nine times a year. In 2010 he rejoined Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he continues to practice.
Taylor has long recognized that just as his first trip abroad set the stage for a life of international travel, his undergrad education and Dickinson mentor helped lay the foundation for his professional successes. But he did not realize the ways that his soccer experiences would benefit him—not until his 6-year-old daughter joined an AYSO soccer team, and he was asked to fill in as coach. Taylor enjoyed the experience so much that he coached his daughter’s teams for two years and his son’s teams for nine.
“Coaching children’s sports was among the best things I have done, and that all started with Dickinson soccer. Back then I was one of the few dads who even knew the rules,” Taylor says. “Being involved with a team sport teaches you how to work in, and find your role in, a group. It also teaches you about winning and losing and the importance of goals.”
A longtime Mermaid Society member, Taylor helps to place exceptional learning experiences like these within reach of today’s Dickinsonians. He founded a scholarship to make study-abroad experiences more accessible and also has funded overseas trips for student-athletes.
Now, he’s providing for a new locker room for the men’s soccer team. The room will be named in honor of Schoeninger, who introduced him to soccer, and Keller, who helped him improve his game.
"I wanted to support the program because I'm grateful for the things I've learned by being a student-athlete at Dickinson, and for the friendships I made through the soccer program," he says.
TAKE THE NEXT STEPS
Published February 11, 2022