College President Gene Nichol was uninvited to speak at the commencement ceremony at Walsingham Academy, a local high school. According to the Daily Press, the invitation withdrawal was the result of the Wren cross controversy.
p. According to the Virginia Gazette, parents at Walsingham Academy protested Nichol’s invitation and pressured the school to rescind. The situation was further complicated because Nichol’s daughter is a member of the graduating senior class.
p. The Virginia Gazette reported that the school had preferred that Nichol withdraw himself, but that he did not and as a result, the school revoked the request.
p. Nichol addressed the issue in a letter to the editor of the Virginia Gazette March 7.
p. “Months ago, when the Wren cross issue became so controversial, I contacted Walsingham officials and offered to withdraw as commencement speaker. I was informed that, as a matter of principle, my offer would not be accepted. … Last week I was told that the invitation was now being withdrawn. I asked only that it be clearly explained that the school made the decision, not me. Such an explicit commitment was made. It was apparently breached as well,” Nichol wrote.
p. While some were opposed to the president speaking at Walsingham’s graduation ceremony, others thought it wrong to revoke his invitation.
p. “I don’t have a problem with him being the speaker. I think we’ve had a close association with William and Mary and a lot of help from them. … I think the cross issue is overblown. It’s about the students, and I think outside of this issue he is very respected in his role at the university,” Bill Athayde, a parent of three children who have gone through the Walsingham Academy, told the Virginia Gazette.
p. A replacement speaker has not been announced.