Donor pulls $12 million over Wren cross policy

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February 28, 2007

12:20 PM

p. Former Board of Visitors member James McGlothlin, ’62, J.D. ’64, a major donor to the College, has withdrawn future donations because of College President Gene Nichol’s decision last October to remove the Wren Chapel cross from permanent display.

p. “[Nichol’s decision to remove the cross] has been so disturbing to me that I have decided to withhold any future contributions to the College,” McGlothlin wrote in his e-mail to another former BOV member, which was also sent to current Board members. “Unless a change in direction takes place, it will be difficult for me to provide future financial support to our wonderful school.”

p. McGlothlin said that his contribution had been planned in cooperation with former College President Timothy J. Sullivan.
Director of University Relations Michael Connolly confirmed that a donor recently revoked a $12 million pledge to the Campaign for William and Mary, but Connolly would not verify the donor’s identity.

p. “I assume the two things go together,” Board of Visitors Rector Michael Powell, ’85, said in a telephone interview. “As rector, nobody has told me about any second pledge of that kind of volume.”

p. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that McGlothlin was, in fact, the donor who rescinded his future $12 million donation.

p. The loss of funding puts the Campaign for William and Mary below its $500 million goal. Connolly still expects the campaign to meet the goal before its June 30 closing date, adding that since Charter Day the Campaign has raised an additional $3 million.
In a written statement, Nichol said he felt “heartsick” over the decision, which he called a “serious setback to the College.”

p. “While I know it is intended to make a policy statement, ultimately it only hurts our students,” he wrote. “The core values of the College cannot be for sale.”

p. He said that while the Wren cross controversy has led some to stop donating, others have renewed or even increased their support.

p. “The College continues to thrive, with applications and contributions above where they were a year ago,” he wrote.
Two residents at the Williamsburg Landing, a local retirement home, have started a fundraising campaign of their own to try to replace the $12 million.

p. Tom Mikula, ’48, and Marilyn Entwisle, ’44, both pledged $12,000 to the College, and they are asking others to do the same in hopes that 1,000 people will join them to make up the lost donation.

p. “When I heard about [the lost $12 million], I was so incensed that someone with money would try to change things that are so important to the College,” Mikula said, adding that so far at least eight people have decided to contribute $12,000.

p. Powell said he thinks the Wren cross controversy — which quickly escalated into a nationally debated issue — will have an overall negative financial effect on the College.

p. “How much is yet to be determined,” he said. “$12 million is a lot of money.”

p. He said that the administration, along with a number of people affiliated with the College who know McGlothlin, will contact him about reversing his decision to no longer financially support the College.

p. “From my perspective, it’s always unfortunate if any alumni chooses not to give, even in small amounts,” Powell said, adding that he hopes McGlothlin will see the value in returning his contribution.

p. McGlothlin, for whom McGlothlin-Street Hall is co-named, is the founder and former CEO of the United Coal Company. According to the Daily Press, the company donated $3 million to the College in 1997.

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