Nichol evaluates State of the College

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February 3, 2007

5:14 PM

College President Gene Nichol announced that the Campaign for William and Mary raised $26 million in the fourth quarter of 2006 during his first annual State of the College address last Thursday evening in the University Center Commonwealth Auditorium. Nichol said that the amount was a record for a fourth quarter.

p. The Campaign for William & Mary aims to raise $500 million for the College by June of this year. The College releases figures for the campaign quarterly.

p. As of Sept. 30, 2006, the College had raised $476.9 million. This most recent $26 million quarter would appear to put the campaign above its $500 million goal about six months early.

p. The College would not comment on whether the fundraising campaign had officially ended.

p. “The President did say we raised $26 million in the past quarter,” Director of News Services Brian Whitson said. “As the President said, ‘good news is ahead for our Campaign.’ Expect an announcement regarding the campaign in the coming weeks.”

p. When Nichol was a candidate for president after former College President Timothy J. Sullivan announced his retirement, Nichol participated in a forum with students in which he praised the work of the Campaign for William & Mary. He said that as soon as the current fundraising campaign was completed, the College would need to begin a larger fundraising campaign.

p. In the address, Nichol also announced the formation of a committee that would examine the place for religion in public universities. Nichol had been criticized for his decision to remove a cross from permanent display in the Wren Chapel. A group of concerned alumni founded the website savethewrencross.org to circulate a petition and post news articles from around the country about Nichol’s decision, which some viewed as an overstep of his role as president of the College.

p. While over 10,000 people have signed the petition so far, the Board of Visitors has continued to back Nichol’s decision.
Nichol recognized that the move was not popular with all members of the College community during his address.

p. “Though the decision [to remove the cross] has received much support—particularly within the campus community—many, many have seen it otherwise,” Nichol said. “So tonight, having had discussions with many, on campus and beyond, including members of the Board of Visitors, I announce the creation of a presidential committee to aid in the exploration of these questions.”
Nichol stated that the committee would be co-chaired by James Livingston, emeritus chair of the College’s religious studies department, and Law School Professor Alan Meese.

p. The committee to examine the role of religion in public colleges is part of a recent effort on Nichol’s part to moderate his decision. As part of a compromise, Nichol allowed the cross to return to the chapel permanently on Sundays. For more information on the cross controversy, see Cross, page A1.

p. Nichol also thanked the Williamsburg for changing the way he evaluates voter registration applications. Now, anyone with a driver’s license that lists a Williamsburg address as their residence will be able to vote in Williamsburg, a move toward allowing more student voting. Previously, students allegedly would be denied the right to vote in Williamsburg if they listed a dorm address on their application. For more information, see Registrar, page A1.

p. Nichol offered a positive assessment of the College during his 30-minute speech. He praised the graduation rates of student athletes at the College while referencing the College’s disagreements to the NCAA. Recently, the NCAA ruled that the college’s athletic logo, a WM with two feathers, was offensive to American Indian groups.

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