General Assembly approves Nichol’s exit
February 17, 2008
p. Members of the General Assembly’s House of Delegates responded to Nichol’s resignation earlier this week.
p. “I think for the most part that [the overall reaction among delegates] is relief,” Del. Tim Hugo ’86 (R-Fairfax) said. “It’s been an unending string of political controversies throughout his tenure, and I don’t think that has been good for the school.”
p. Nichol criticized the House Privileges and Elections committee in his resignation e-mail Tuesday for summoning Board of Visitors members to Richmond for questioning. Nichol said they were effectively threatening the board members into deciding not to renew his contract.
p. Privileges and Elections Committee Chairman Del. Mark Cole (R-Fauquier) disagreed with Nichol’s comments and said he called the meeting because many constituents and alumni of the College were concerned about recent controversial activities.
p. “I understand that there were a lot of alumni who had issues with him and a lot of professors who had problems with him,” he said.
p. He said they talked to the BOV members about the controversies surrounding the College such as the initial removal of the Wren cross and the hosting of the Sex Workers’ Art Show.
Meanwhile, several other delegates believed that Nichol was not properly suited for the job of being the president of a public institution of higher education.
p. “I don’t think he acted appropriately,” Del. Frank Hargrove (R-Hanover) said. “He wasn’t doing anything but hurting the institution.”
p. Many delegates have mixed feelings about recent events on campus.
p. Hargrove especially believes that teachers and students should not interfere with the BOV’s decision.
p. “I don’t think the faculty should be involved in this. The faculty is there to teach, not there to set policy,” he said. “A chemistry teacher is there to teach chemistry, not policy.”
p. Hugo agreed with BOV Rector Michael Powell’s statement that the College should move forward.
p. “What we need to do now is put everything behind us and continue,” Hugo said.
p. “I think [Nichol] was a liberal activist, and I don’t think a liberal activist should be running a school, but I don’t think a conservative activist should either,” Hugo added.
p. Yet, Cole believes that the policies of the school should be formed by the BOV and not the General Assembly itself.
p. The delegates also recommended ways to improve communication on campus and for students to voice their opinions to the General Assembly.
p. “I think students need to become involved with their representatives — they need to be in touch about different issues,” Cole said. “Voice your opinion through the student government, and contact various General Assembly members too.”
p. Cole believes that the College is headed in the right direction.
p. “I just hope from now on out that William and Mary will make the news for positive things and not controversial issues. I hope it will get back in the news for outstanding academics,” he said.
p. Hugo agreed.
p. “Nichol is a very nice man, and I sincerely wish him well, but he never made the successful transition from political activist to college president,” he said.