Skip to comments.A Statement from President Nichol (William & Mary President Resigns After Contract Not Renewed)
Posted on 02/12/2008 7:40:58 AM PST by smartin
Dear Members of the William & Mary Community:
I was informed by the Rector on Sunday, after our Charter Day celebrations, that my contract will not be renewed in July. Appropriately, serving the College in the wake of such a decision is beyond my imagining. Accordingly, I have advised the Rector, and announce today, effective immediately, my resignation as president of the College of William & Mary. I return to the faculty of the school of law to resume teaching and writing.
I have made four decisions, or sets of decisions, during my tenure that have stirred ample controversy.
First, as is widely known, I altered the way a Christian cross was displayed in a public facility, on a public university campus, in a chapel used regularly for secular College events -- both voluntary and mandatory -- in order to help Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other religious minorities feel more meaningfully included as members of our broad community. The decision was likely required by any effective notion of separation of church and state. And it was certainly motivated by the desire to extend the Colleges welcome more generously to all. We are charged, as state actors, to respect and accommodate all religions, and to endorse none. The decision did no more.
Second, I have refused, now on two occasions, to ban from the campus a program funded by our student-fee-based, and student-governed, speaker series. To stop the production because I found it offensive, or unappealing, would have violated both the First Amendment and the traditions of openness and inquiry that sustain great universities. It would have been a knowing, intentional denial of the constitutional rights of our students. It is perhaps worth recalling that my very first act as president of the College was to swear on oath not to do so.
Third, in my early months here, recognizing that we likely had fewer poor, or Pell eligible, students than any public university in America, and that our record was getting worse, I introduced an aggressive Gateway scholarship program for Virginians demonstrating the strongest financial need. Under its terms, resident students from families earning $40,000 a year or less have 100% of their need met, without loans. Gateway has increased our Pell eligible students by 20% in the past two years.
Fourth, from the outset of my presidency, I have made it clear that if the College is to reach its aspirations of leadership, it is essential that it become a more diverse, less homogeneous institution. In the past two and half years we have proceeded, with surprising success, to assure that is so. Our last two entering classes have been, by good measure, the most diverse in the Colleges history. We have, in the past two and a half years, more than doubled our number of faculty members of color. And we have more effectively integrated the administrative leadership of William & Mary. It is no longer the case, as it was when I arrived, that we could host a leadership retreat inviting the 35 senior administrators of the College and see, around the table, no persons of color.
As the result of these decisions, the last sixteen months have been challenging ones for me and my family. A committed, relentless, frequently untruthful and vicious campaign -- on the internet and in the press -- has been waged against me, my wife and my daughters. It has been joined, occasionally, by members of the Virginia House of Delegates -- including last weeks steps by the Privileges and Elections Committee to effectively threaten Board appointees if I were not fired over decisions concerning the Wren Cross and the Sex Workers Art Show. That campaign has now been rendered successful. And those same voices will no doubt claim victory today.
It is fair to say that, over the course of the past year, I have, more than once, considered either resigning my post or abandoning the positions I have taken on these matters -- which I believe crucial to the Colleges future. But as I did so, I thought of other persons as well.
I thought of those students, staff, faculty, and alumni, not of the religious majority, who have told me of the power of even small steps, like the decision over display of the Wren Cross, to recognize that they, too, are full members of this inspiring community.
I have thought of those students, faculty, and staff who, in the past three years, have joined us with explicit hopes and assurances that the College could become more effectively opened to those of different races, backgrounds, and economic circumstances -- and I have thought of my own unwillingness to voluntarily abandon their efforts, and their prospects, in mid-stream.
I have thought of faculty and staff members here who have, for decades, believed that the College has, unlike many of its competitors, failed to place the challenge of becoming an effectively diverse institution center stage -- and who, as a result, have been strongly encouraged by the progress of the last two years.
I have thought of the students who define and personify the Colleges belief in community, in service, in openness, in idealism -- those who make William & Mary a unique repository of the American promise. And I have believed it unworthy, regardless of burden, to break our bonds of partnership.
And I have thought, perhaps most acutely, of my wife and three remarkable daughters. Ive believed it vital to understand, with them, that though defeat may at times come, it is crucial not to surrender to the loud and the vitriolic and the angry -- just because they are loud and vitriolic and angry. Recalling the old Methodist hymn that commands us not to be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong, nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich. So I have sought not to yield. The Boards decision, of course, changes that.
To my faculty colleagues, who have here created a distinctive culture of engaged, student-centered teaching and research, I will remember your strong and steadfast support until the end of my days.
To those staff members and alumni of this accomplished and heartening community, who have struggled to make the William & Mary of the future worthy of its distinctive past, I regret that I will no longer be part of that uplifting cause. But I have little doubt where the course of history lies.
And, finally, to the life-changing and soul-inspiring students of the College, the largest surprise of my professional life, those who have created in me a surpassing faith not only in an institution, but in a generation, I have not words to touch my affections. My belief in your promise has been the central and defining focus of my presidency. The too-quick ending of our work together is among the most profound and wrenching disappointments in my life. Your support, particularly of the past few weeks and days, will remain the strongest balm Ive known. I am confident of the triumphs and contributions the future holds for women and men of such power and commitment.
I add only that, on Sunday, the Board of Visitors offered both my wife and me substantial economic incentives if we would agree not to characterize [the non-renewal decision] as based on ideological grounds or make any other statement about my departure without their approval. Some members may have intended this as a gesture of generosity to ease my transition. But the stipulation of censorship made it seem like something else entirely. We, of course, rejected the offer. It would have required that I make statements I believe to be untrue and that I believe most would find non-credible. Ive said before that the values of the College are not for sale. Neither are ours.
Mine, to be sure, has not been a perfect presidency. I have sometimes moved too swiftly, and perhaps paid insufficient attention to the processes and practices of a strong and complex university. A wiser leader would likely have done otherwise. But I have believed, and attempted to explain, from even before my arrival on the campus, that an emboldened future for the College of William & Mary requires wider horizons, more fully opened doors, a broader membership, and a more engaging clash of perspectives than the sometimes narrowed gauges of the past have allowed. I step down today believing it still.
I have also hoped that this noble College might one day claim not only Thomas Jeffersons pedigree, but his political philosophy as well. It was Jefferson who argued for a wall of separation between church and state -- putting all religious sects on an equal footing. He expressly rejected the claim that speech should be suppressed because it might influence others to do evil, insisting instead that we have nothing to fear from the demoralizing reasonings of some if others are left free to demonstrate their errors. And he averred powerfully that worth and genius should be sought from every condition of society.
The College of William & Mary is a singular place of invention, rigor, commitment, character, and heart. I have been proud that even in a short term we have engaged a marvelous new Chancellor, successfully concluded a hugely-promising capital campaign, secured surprising support for a cutting-edge school of education and other essential physical facilities, seen the most vibrant applicant pools in our history, fostered path-breaking achievements in undergraduate research, more potently internationalized our programs and opportunities, led the nation in an explosion of civic engagement, invigorated the fruitful marriage of athletics and academics, lifted the salaries of our lowest-paid employees, and even hosted a queen. None of this compares, though, to the magic and the inspiration of the people -- young and older -- who Glenn and I have come to know here. You will remain always and forever at the center of our hearts.
Go Tribe. And hark upon the gale.
What a whiny little bastard.
Good riddance to liberal trash.
GFR from an alumni dad. Quit the law school, too.
So, he hired a large number of conservative faculty?
Virginia primary day is not a total loss ping.
Gene Nichol is out
William and Mary president, faced with ouster, resigns
BY MIKE HOLTZCLAW
9:53 AM EST, February 12, 2008
Embattled College of William and Mary president Gene Nichol informed staff members this morning that he is resigning effective immediately. He said he came to this decision after being informed that the college would not renew his contract.
In an e-mail sent out to staff members, he wrote: “I was informed by the Rector on Sunday, after our Charter Day celebrations, that my contract will not be renewed in July. Appropriately, serving the College in the wake of such a decision is beyond my imagining. Accordingly, I have advised the Rector, and announce today, effective immediately, my resignation as president of the College of William & Mary. I return to the faculty of the school of law to resume teaching and writing.”
Nichol, who became president of the college on July 1, 2005, became the focus of a controversy that became a national talking point later that year over the placement of a historic cross in the campus’ Wren Chapel. Because the chapel is non-denominational, Nichol removed the cross from permanent display, but made it available for use in Christian services or for any group that requested it.
Nichol survived the firestorm of criticism that followed, but he apparently will not keep his job after acceding to students’ wishes for the campus to host a controversial sex workers’ art show earlier this year.
on of the people — young and older — who Glenn and I have come to know here.
Who is Glenn?
He’ll be missed.
“You can’t fire me - I quit!”
I feel a little better now. I woke up feeling more hopeless about this election than I ever have. I’m leaving work early to vote, then intend to stop by my church to pray for America.
I wasn’t aware that a private, church sponsored institution was required to meet the same constitutional limitations placed on the US government by its citizens.
That’s an amazing way for the press to report this - ‘he survived the firestorm’ but now he is fired. How is it that he survived the firestorm? Because it took a little longer to fire him?
Does anyone every read the garbage called ‘reporting’ any more?
Did he take his lovely daughters to the Sex Workers exhibit or whatever it was called? Or his wife? I would like to know the answer to that.
If it was something that other people’s kids should be exposed to, his certainly should as well.
what a jerk.
Yes we can!
Typically, institutions have either oil paintings or fancy photographs of their paast presidents. When his hits the wall, maybe some of the students (alums, etc.) could request that his painting/picture be turned to face the wall on the grounds that seeing him at every pass “offends them.”
I was wondering too - you know how things are nowadays even at ‘’religious’’ schools. Looks like his wife has an unusual female name, from a quick Google search.
The guy comes across as a complete wuss and an idiot. His rant was actually kind of funny in it’s condescending moral high ground tone.
“I was informed by the Rector on Sunday, after our Charter Day celebrations, that my contract will not be renewed in July”
Is that where the cross he had ordered hidden use to be?
What poor critter up and died on his head?
Don’t force your liberal views on an entire Student Body and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Now go cry and whine at the Law School and train another generation bloodsuckers.
Good riddance. Too bad he resumes “teaching” law.
The Rockefellers of New York bought up almost all the properties of this historic Town when it was depressed.
Restored over the years, the Town is worth the visit...just to walk in the footsteps of those eminent men and all the brave men who fought for "Independence".
Signed...An old surveyor
You can say that again.
When will these officials and faculty members of public universities realize that they work for us?
OK, I'm over it.
“I wasnt aware that a private, church sponsored institution was required to meet the same constitutional limitations placed on the US government by its citizens.”
Which institution is that? W&M is a public university.
me too ;-)
Talk about sanctimonious!
Someday, one of these college administrators will explain why ‘diversity,’ defined as racial, gender, ethnic quotas, is more important than simply having the very brightest students of any race, gender or ethnicity.
In the US today, a competitive college like W&M could easily have a majority of students ‘of color’ simply by admitting all the qualified Asians who apply. That’s not good enough for the likes of Nichol and his fellow ivory tower crowd.
Follow the money (or lack thereof) as in raising it for the college. Bets are that donations are waaaaaaaaaaaaay down.
Cliff notes so people don’t have to read the whole thing: “Since I have been informed that I have been fired, I have made the tough decision to quit. Every disagreement I have ever had with anyone is because I am smart and noble, and everyone else isn’t”
Beat me to it! I’m also alumni, and I had another post already started with this email, but decided to check last second to see if anyone else made it yet.
I suspect a muskrat, but would have to sniff to be sure ...
Remember he is a lawyer.
MIT faces this issue. The way they solve it is to create two classifications for minorities; regular minorities and "underrepresented minorities". The latter are all minorities whose percentage in the MIT student body is less than that of the overall U.S. population. Any underrepresented minority that applies and meets admissions criteria is accepted. Any other minority (e.g., those of Asian heritage) competes at the same level as all other students.
That this is not just an end-around to artificially change the makeup of the student body through quotas regardless of academic qualifications can be proved by the fact that underrepresented minorities have stayed that way throughout the years of this policy. And the percentage of students of Asian heritage still far outstrips the number you'd see if they were artificially held down to the level that they are in the overall population.
What's the graduation rate and class ranking of "underrepresented minorities" vs. all other students?
Let’s take bets as to which “fine” University this guy will wind up at.
He’s going back to teaching law with W&M.
Thanks for the ping. I missed this piece of good news.