Questions surface about lost $12 mil.
October 23, 2007
__Nichol refutes ShouldNicholBeRenewed.org’s allegations, defends last year’s handling of lost $12 million donation__
The Flat Hat has obtained copies of a presentation that ShouldNicholBeRenewed.org spokesman Jim Jones ’82 gave to Board of Visitors members arguing that College President Gene Nichol should be fired. The BOV is currently evaluating Nichol’s performance to decide whether to renew his contract, which expires in June.
p. The 40-page presentation includes a letter to Jones from James McGlothlin ’62 J.D.’64, the donor who revoked a $12 million pledge to the College last year because he was upset with Nichol’s decision to remove the Wren Chapel cross from permanent display. In the July 18 letter, McGlothlin says that he never fully committed to the gift and that he told former College President Tim Sullivan ’66 last December that he no longer planned to make the donation.
p. McGlothlin also said that he planned to make the donation only if certain ethics classes would be taught at the College’s law school.
p. “It would be my position that no gift was ever agreed to, but only that I was thinking about such a gift once the details were worked out,” McGlothin said. “Most recently, I forwarded a letter to President Nichol telling him that I did not believe the return of the cross under a glass case was acceptable.”
p. Both Nichol and Vice President of Development Sean Pieri said independently that the donation had been committed to the College in writing.
p. The presentation includes allegations that Nichol was aware of the lost donation prior to announcing that the Campaign for William and Mary had surpassed its $500 million goal — a statement Nichol retracted when the lost donation became public last February and the campaign total dipped back below its target. The campaign did surpass its goal by the June 30, 2007, end date.
p. Nichol refuted the allegation that he misrepresented the campaign total, saying that he was worried that McGlothlin would withhold future donations due to the cross decision but that he did not know McGlothlin planned to revoke the $12 million donation until after he announced the campaign results.
p. “I knew that Mr. McGlothlin was unhappy with the decision I made,” Nichol said yesterday. “He had written to me and said that would affect his future feelings about the College, but what he didn’t say — and what I didn’t know — was that would mean this prior pledge … was being revoked.”
p. The letter Nichol referred to was sent to him Dec. 11 by McGlothlin. In it, McGlothin stated that he was disappointed with the decision to remove the cross and that the policy change would affect how he views the College in the future.
p. Nichol said that he discussed the donation with Sullivan, but that Sullivan did not indicate that McGlothlin planned to revoke the $12 million pledge. Nichol said he found out about the lost pledge Feb. 23, when he received a letter that had been forwarded to the BOV Feb. 16 in which McGlothlin said he planned to withhold a large donation.
p. That letter, originally sent from McGlothlin to former BOV member Linda Sklandany, became public last Febuary.
p. “The notion that I sent out an e-mail to alumni talking about us having made the $500 million knowing that this pledge had been revoked is completely false,” Nichol said. “I think that this is an effort to say that I’ve been disingenuous on this front, and that’s completely untrue.”
p. Yesterday, Sullivan released a statement to The Flat Hat, saying that he hoped the matter could be solved by current College officials:
p. “In December 2006 I was a private citizen with no formal connection to the College of William & Mary. Any conversations I had with Jim McGlothlin during that time were private discussions between old friends. I value Jim McGlothlin’s friendship and respect his privacy. I do not plan to speak publicly about these conversations
p. “I would like to make it clear to everyone in the William & Mary community that since I left the College everything I have learned which might assist the College or protect her from harm has been communicated to the College administration verbally or by e-mail. It is more proper that these communications be revealed by the College administration than by me. I can say with honesty and sincerity that I have done my very best to pass along all information important to the College as soon as I have known it and in the clearest possible terms.
p. “I do not think it beneficial to the long term interests of the College for a former president to engage in a debate that reflects upon the performance of his successor.