McVay was founding executive director of the Robert Sterling Clark and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundations and the 16th president of the Chautauqua Institution. Among his initiatives are the four-day Dodge Poetry Festival and a Chinese language initiative in high schools across America. A graduate of Princeton, he published a collection of poetry in 2012, Whales Sing and Other Exuberances, and a book, Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things (Wild River Books) in 2015.

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