President appoints Nancyellen Keane VP and general counsel

Attorney Nancyellen Keane ’78 has been appointed vice president for administration and general counsel of Sweet Briar College.

Nancyellen Keane '78
Nancyellen Keane ’78

President Phillip C. Stone saw a need for the new post to assist him in College operations not otherwise lodged with a vice president or director. Keane’s responsibilities will include overseeing special projects, coordinating among departments, interfacing with governmental and regulatory agencies, and reviewing contracts and other legal documents.

Keane will continue working part time at Troutman Sanders in Richmond, where she has been of counsel for 17 years. Her primary areas of law are regulatory compliance and commercial transactions. She has been a practicing attorney for more than 30 years, having served as corporate or general counsel at private companies and as an assistant attorney general of Virginia.

“Nancyellen brings to this position the deep love for her college and the attributes that made her so successful in her firm’s effort to save Sweet Briar,” Stone said. “She epitomizes what I am describing as our mantra: At Sweet Briar, the impossible is just another problem to solve. Her collegial manner and ability to solve problems will make her a real asset.”

Keane was not expecting to become an employee of the College but said she is ready and humbled to serve.

“I’m thrilled and honored that I would even be considered for a job at Sweet Briar,” she said. “If you had told me in 1978 that I’d be here, I’d have said you were crazy. I am very excited and look forward to working with President Stone and the rest of the administration.”

Keane earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Sweet Briar. She attended graduate school at the University of Richmond before earning her J.D. at UR’s T.C. Williams School of Law in 1982.

Keane is married with two children. Her son, J. Westwood “West” Smithers III, attends law school at UR, and her daughter, Austin Smithers, will start her first year at Wake Forest University later this month.

Keane will keep her home in Richmond with husband J. Westwood Smithers Jr., but will be at Sweet Briar during the week.