December 7, 2007
Over the past few months, our college has lost sight of what we believe in. As a community, we have always strived to embrace the ideals of the Tribe, namely furthering the pursuit of being both a great and public university.
p. In his inauguration speech, College President Gene Nichol stated, “I was given a remarkable foundation upon which to build … [made] possible by excellent, accessible, empowering public higher education … [a] treasure we celebrate today and that we work to assure in the years ahead.” Since his arrival at the College, Nichol has worked to strengthen and build upon that foundation.
p. Over the past few weeks, we have spoken with the administration, alumni, faculty and students across campus in order to empirically gauge Nichol’s success. Nichol’s vision, as stated in his inauguration speech, consisted of lofty goals.
p. First, he wanted to open the doors of the College to any qualified individual, regardless of income or class, by “mak[ing] clear [the College’s] recognition that talent, commitment, imagination and dedication are not the exclusive province of those with significant means.”
p. Nichol is credited with the Diversity Statement and website, both of which put into writing for the first time the sense of community upon which the College had always prided itself. It is a place “where people of all backgrounds feel at home, where diversity is actively embraced and where each individual takes responsibility for upholding the dignity of all members of the community.”
p. He is responsible for initiatives to diversify our faculty and administration, as well as our student body. Nichol has improved financial aid packages, including enacting and furthering former College President Sullivan’s concept of a Gateway Program. This new financial aid initiative grants access to the College to students who would otherwise be excluded for economic reasons.
p. Another of Nichol’s goals was “to expand our horizons — bringing the wonders of the globe to the College and the talents and capabilities of the College to the broader global community.” Nichol has proven his commitment to both study abroad and international service opportunities. He facilitated a discussion with international service trip leaders to better learn how he could support their passion for service. Nichol’s commitment to global civic engagement is evident in his active participation in the WM Medical Mission Corps, now known as SOMOS.
p. Last winter, Nichol traveled with the team to the Dominican Republic to set up a clinic and participate in ethnographic research. This gesture remains unparalleled by any other president in the College’s history. Nichol has even personally donated to the International Service Trip Council. His unprecedented support has led to the creation of 12 more trips and a promotional trip video for use in fundraising efforts.
p. While addressing the Faculty Assembly during his interview as a candidate for president, Nichol stressed that “it is utterly required that William and Mary lift its sights, lift its attainments, lift its levels of participation and lift its private giving in ways that reflect an altered culture.”
p. Nichol has since led successful financial campaigns for the College, involving as many as 58,303 active donors as of last December. The College endowment has increased by $94.2 million, 19.2 percent during his presidency. Nichol is creating an environment that fosters financial support from those closest to the College.
p. Possibly Nichol’s most inspiring accomplishment is the close relationship he maintains with the student body. He has proven himself incredibly supportive of new student initiatives and has even instituted an open door policy in his home. Nichol has made conscientious efforts to vocally support student endeavors, and he attends a number of extracurricular events.
p. We ask the community to consider the tangible accomplishments that Nichol has realized through his devotion to this College. Through his commitments to diversity initiatives, civic engagement, financial development and student relationships, it is obvious that he has already made tremendous strides in strengthening our foundation.
p. Further, we must recall the short time in which he has had the opportunity to lead, limited by controversies exaggerated by those who hope for his failure. If a man with this dedication and achievement can be driven out of office in the short span of three years, what is the future of the College’s presidency?
p. Renew the president who has pursued the vision of an institution both great and public, a dream we can all share. Renew President Nichol.
p. __Samantha Fien-Helfman and Sarah Rojas are a junior and sophomore at the College, respectively.__