September 2, 2015

Scott McVay’s “Surprise Encounters” Highlights Explorers, Artists, Scientists

Book Rev 1Wild River Books has announced an October 1 publication date for Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things by Scott McVay, who was named “the Money Man for Inspirations” by the New York Times and whose career reflects grant-making as founding executive director of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. He was president of the Chautauqua Institution from 2001 to 2003.

Prize-winning Poet Jane Hirshfield, author of Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, says, “Entering into Scott McVay’s memories, and life, is a bit like entering one of those collections that used to be called a Cabinet of Curiosities, in which art married science, beauty married oddity, and factual married fantastic — except that everything in these pages’ stories, photographs, and poems is grounded in the real.”

Through wide-ranging stories with renowned figures devoted to transformative change, Mr. McVay, a graduate of Princeton University, also shows the challenge of placing fund in education, the arts, conservation, and the welfare of animals. Urged by friends and colleagues to set down his recollections, he composed Surprise Encounters, a chronology of more than 150 vignettes written in the spirit of Boccaccio’s Decameron and including titles such as “Even if You Change Your Clothes, the Killer Whale Will Remember You,” “If Knowledge of the Universe Were a Ladder of One Hundred Rungs,” “That which Is Alive I Praise,” “Don’t Worry about Snakes,” and “Twelve Words that Altered Destiny.”

The author’s career spans eight decades, from his time as the first recording secretary and assistant to Princeton University President Robert F. Goheen, who brought about the admission of women in 1969, to his research on dolphins and whales, from service on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institution to creating the Dodge Poetry Festival, and, with his wife Hella, the Poetry Trail in Greenway Meadows in Princeton.

Scott McVay is a graduate of Princeton University in English literature. A committed contributor, He has served on two dozen boards including The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Bat Conservation International, Earth Policy Institute, and Grounds for Sculpture. McVay’s honors include receipt of the Albert Schweizer Award from the Animal Welfare Institute, the Joseph Wood Krutch medal from the Humane Society of the United States, the Princeton University Class of 1955 Award, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award by the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars, the New Jersey Council of the Humanities Citizen of the Year 1998, and an honorary doctorate from Middlebury College.