Nichol resigns, ending shortest presidency since Civil War

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February 12, 2008

9:57 AM

__Law School Dean Taylor Reveley to serve in interim__

p. After 16 months of controversy surrounding College President Gene Nichol’s presidency, the Board of Visitors has decided not to renew his contract.

p. Nichol announced in an e-mail to the College community this morning that he would resign, effective immediately.

p. Nichol said in his e-mail that the Michael Powell, the rector of the College’s Board of Visitors, informed him of the decision Sunday after the Charter Day celebrations.

p. “Appropriately, serving the College in the wake of such a decision is beyond my imagining,” Nichol said. “I have advised the Rector, and announce today, effective immediately, my resignation as president of the College of William and Mary.”

p. Nichol also said that he would return to the College’s law school to resume his career in teaching and writing.

p. He attributed the controversy surrounding his tenure to four presidential decisions — his decision to remove the Wren cross, his refusal to ban the Sex Workers’ Art Show, his support of the College’s Gateway Program and his commitment to the College’s faculty diversity.

p. Nichol also criticized the 16-month campaign against his presidency that has occurred since the removal of the Wren Cross.

p. “A committed, relentless, frequently untruthful campaign — on the internet and in the press — has been waged against me, my wife and my daughters.”

p. He added that the campaign against his tenure “has now been rendered successful. And those same voices will no doubt claim victory today.”

p. Nichol also that the BOV offered his family “substantial economic incentives” if he agreed, in the words of the BOV, “not to characterize [the non-renewal decision] as based on ideological grounds.”

p. In a written statement released this morning, Powell denied the implication that the College attempted to censor Nichol’s reaction to the non-renewal.

p. “It is critical to explain that this decision was not in any way based on ideology or any single public controversy,” Powell said. “To suggest such a motivation for the Board is flatly wrong. Indeed, the Board has been repulsed by the personal attacks on the President and his family. The uncharitable personal assaults are unworthy of anyone who professes to care about the College and there should be no joy when things do not work out between good people.”

p. Powell also announced that the College will immediately begin the search for a new president. He said that the BOV will appoint College Law School Dean W. Taylor Reveley as interim president.

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