Delegate proposes BOV election reform

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January 25, 2008

1:21 PM

p. According to Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), there are more problems with the governance of the College than with all the other state schools combined.

p. Marshall has proposed a bill to the state House of Delegates calling for a majority of the Board of Visitors to be elected by alumni, as opposed to being appointed by the governor.
Acting upon numerous complaints from alumni in the state, Marshall has proposed this bill as “a long-range effort to amend paralysis in the current Board of Visitors.”

p. “Alumni love William and Mary first and foremost … they are in the best position to care for the school,” Marshall said. He argues that the current system could amount to simply rewarding political supporters of the governor.

p. “We need to find a system that does not depend on wealth and political connections but on people who benefited from the training of William and Mary,” Marshall said.

p. However, according to Brian Whitson from University Relations, this is already the case.

p. “The Alumni Association makes recommendations each year to the secretary of the commonwealth and the governor’s office. I actually believe we are one of the few schools where our alumni association is involved in the process this way,” Whitson said.

p. Though Marshall has yet to contact the College regarding the bill, Whitson remarked that “the current process has brought us terrific boards over the years.”

p. The bill calls for nine of the 17 BOV members to be selected by alumni and eight to be selected by the governor. Within each group there may be two non-state residents, resulting in a total of four non-Virginians in the BOV.

p. Yet the bill has received criticism from some in the College. Rector Michael K. Powell said that he did “not think having a set number of seats controlled exclusively by one segment of the college community is wise or workable,” according to Tuesday’s Daily Press article.

p. However, Marshall disagrees.

p. “[Powell] seems to be arguing that everyone that comes out of William and Mary is from the same cookie-cutter mold, when in fact they come from a wide variety of majors, a wide political spectrum, ethnic spectrum … and their point of unity is William and Mary,” Marshall said. “And since when is unity a bad thing? What ever happened to one nation, under God? You only disagree with [unity] when you disagree with the purpose of oneness.”

p. In the past, Marshall has openly criticized College President GeneDelega Nichol, at one point proposing to have the state-funded portion of Nichol’s salary – about half of the total – withheld in the midst of the Wren cross issue.

p. This was following what Marshall believed to be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, when Nichol told a different story from what the information in the e-mails regarding the withdrawal of a $12 million donation reported.

p. Today, Marshall sees Nichol’s actions as part of the problem of “paralysis” at the College.

p. “A College president is not supposed to be a friend; he’s supposed to be a director,” Marshall said, using recent College events as an example. “His paralysis with this stupid sex show … why don’t you just get drug dealers to come in and talk about how to make money there? William and Mary is a public forum, but there are restrictions.”

p. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Education and awaits further action.

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