of Encyclopedia Virginia there was Andrew Chancey [pronounced ‘An-drëw Chän-see’; aka VFH Director of Planning and Management and Executive Editor of Encyclopedia Virginia]. Andrew–known as “Andy” to his friends outside the office–came to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities over eight years ago. He rose in the VFH ranks quickly, going from a half-time employee to the high-powered administrative position mysteriously called “Director of Planning and Management.” This Andrew achieved because of his incredible organizational and managerial prowess and, perhaps, because nobody else wanted the position.
While managing the daily operations of VFH, Andrew was also busy making this idea of Encyclopedia Virginia a reality. He wrote the initial grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities that provided over $50,000 to investigate the feasibility of creating an online resource to explore Virginia history and culture. And the rest is–well–the rest is history.
When I came to VFH and to Encyclopedia Virginia in 2005, Andrew was there to shepherd me through the subtle intricacies that make up this organization. He was there to play my devil’s advocate when I needed him (and when I didn’t need him) to play that role. While EV may have existed without Andrew, that existence would have been much farther down the road of the future if it had not been for his insistence and passion for the project.
So, why does this sound like an obituary–or perhaps a prologue to a presidential acceptance speech? Well, Andrew’s last day at VFH is today, and on Tuesday (unless they make him work on Labor Day) he will be walking into UVa’s Miller Center of Public Affairs as some as-of-yet untitled big wig. While the strength and success of an organization such as VFH are based on the sum of its parts, there are times when one person can make the difference between good and great. I think I can speak for everyone at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities when I say that Andrew is such a person. We’ll certainly miss you.