Staff Editorial: Nichol decision looms

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February 12, 2008

12:46 PM

__Editor’s Note: The following editorial was written prior to College President Gene Nichol’s resignation. It could not be changed before press time.__

More than five months ago, the College’s Board of Visitors pledged to have College President Gene Nichol’s fate determined this spring. Two days ago, the board members skipped town having said nothing.

p. At the risk of sounding impertinent, this failure to handle Nichol’s tenure with any expedience betrays a board that either cannot or will not make a difficult decision. The time has come for something — anything — regardless of how unpalatable the consequences may seem. Powell said he does not want to wait until the last minute. With the board’s next and last scheduled meeting coming in April, that last minute is approaching.

p. To be sure, whatever may come, the response will not be pretty. Any decision will alienate at least one group, but we trust no lasting damage will come of this; blog posts and protests are fleeting. Those affiliated with the College — students, alumni, faculty and staff alike — must understand that when the BOV decides, it will be a time to unite and dress the wounds.
One and a half years of strife cannot be allowed to tear apart a centuries-old institution.

p. If alumni stop donating in protest, if potential professors flee an internal struggle, if students refuse to accept the deal, our ability to provide a world-class education will suffer. For all the focus on the immediate, the future must inevitably involve cooperation among former factions. We are big enough for that.

p. The BOV members, too, must realize the role they will play in keeping the peace in the wake of their actions. A decision to remove Nichol should consider the possibility that doing so could jeopardize the strength of the applicants vying to fill the position. Potential college presidents are not smoke jumpers — we suspect they won’t be rallying to dive into a fire storm.

p. Hopefully when that decision does come (the sooner the better, for the College), everyone will exercise the the good sense to leave the incendiaries at home. We suggest bandages instead.

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