Nichols Ally Resigns from W&M Board

Protesting criticism of former President Gene Nichol by fellow board members, Paul Blair has announced his resignation from the William & Mary Board of Visitors. In a letter to the William & Mary community posted on a Student Assembly web page, he praised Nichol’s track record of promoting diversity at the university. Nichol resigned last week after the Board refused to new his employment contract.

Blair’s letter lends some insight into the reaction of Board members to the firestorm set off by Nichol’s abrupt resignation.

In praising Mr. Nichol I in no way seek to diminish the critical work and achievements of our former President Tim Sullivan. They are many. Some would try
to drive a wedge between Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Nichol, because Mr. Nichol takes credit (and is blamed) for progressive policies now in place, some of which I think built upon Mr. Sullivan’s work. …

There has been an incipient effort by some members of the Board of Visitors to pick apart President Nichol’s accomplishments. To what end? They gained their stated objective. I have also seen mean-spirited communications that are not worthy of the professional deliberations of any managing board, but most especially not the Board of Visitors of William and Mary. Such communications call into question the real motivation for the initial decision not to renew the President’s contract.

I know the reasoned reactions, as well as the emotional ones, of Board members are in response to the President’s message of February 12th to the William and Mary Community. Would I have refrained from some of what Mr. Nichol said? Certainly, but then I knew more than he.

Based on this letter, I have to modify a key statement that I included in a previous post (“The Nichol Resignation Narrative Looks Weaker and Weaker“): that the Board of Visitors decision not to renew Nichol’s contract was unanimous. As Blair makes clear, Blair was one among “several” board members who fought for the renewal of the contract. (However, Board member John W. Gerdelman confirmed to the Daily Press that board members were unanimous in their final decision, although no formal vote was taken.)

The letter also highlights what some board members are not saying publicly: They were angered by the way in which Nichol, in his resignation letter, had hogged the credit for achieving greater diversity at William & Mary — presumably at the expense of his much-beloved predecessor Timothy Sullivan. Not all BoV members, it appears, were as willing as Blair to overlook Nichol’s one-fingered salute to them on his way out.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    If you read the RTD editorial this morning and their reprint of a student newspaper editorial at W&M, you will find a highly disheartening attitude that the role of people like Nichol is to placate rich alumni donors. Period. Academic freedom and intellectual challenge don’t matter. Trying to grow a more diverse school with more fair tuition policies is unimportant. What matters is that college kids at elite schools like W&M grow up to be rich business people jus like their mommies and daddies so they can donate money and keep the machine going — and ensure that the machine makes no waves, puts forward no challenges and doesn’t change society at all.

    Too often in Virginia, success is measured by how one smugly uses power to maintain the status quo. Threatening and challenging people like Nichol are not tolerated. What they want are cool technocrats like Casteen or litle Caesars like Trani.

    Peter Galuszka

  2. J. Tyler Ballance Avatar
    J. Tyler Ballance

    Nichols had to go because he did not lead the College of William and Mary forward as an institution that always seeks the truth, wherever that quest leads, nor did he lead W&M forward to become a college where MERIT was the basis for admission of students or the promotion of faculty.

    Nichol pushed his socialist agenda and political bias into every facet of the College. Had his view prevailed, no degree from William and Mary would be worth the paper it is printed on. The University of Richmond is headed down the same dirty path of political correctness placed above truth. Other Virginia schools are also in peril due to the injection of propaganda and politics into administrative policies.

    I advocate that all colleges and universities pledge to seek truth, regardless of where that quest leads; that all campuses be dedicated to the free exchange and open debate of ideas, and that ONLY merit be used to determine admissions of students and the promotion of faculty.

    Nichol should not have been merely dismissed from the president’s post, he should be kicked off campus, as should every other faculty or administration member who inject their political agenda into what should have been the tireless quest for truth.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Gee, Mr. Ballance, with attitudes like yours, you’d probably purge 90percent of college presidents in the U.S.becuase they don’t meet your test of political correctness.

    Peter Galuszka

  4. J. Tyler Ballance Avatar
    J. Tyler Ballance


    Quite the contrary. I encourage open political discussions and I also encourage open political affiliations.

    I oppose when someone, like Nichol takes his political agenda and supplants it over the original purpose of a college to seek truth.

    I have no objection to W&M hosting that Sex Workers exhibit, since such an event could serve as a basis to discuss prostitution and other forms of the sex trade, both pro and con.

    Under Nichol and propagandists like him, colleges host all sorts of leftist events, but they try to silence voices with views they oppose. For example, taking the cross from the Wren chapel was clearly an antagonistic move against Christians. I am of the Jewish faith, and I would never support the removal of a cross from public display, since such icons are historical and do not imply state sponsorship of religion.

    Our campuses must return to being places where people with opposing views are encouraged to discuss in a civil manner their divergent views. There needn’t be a state imposed fairness doctrine, where every presentation from the left is matched with one from the right, but the doors must be kept wide open for the open airing of ideas.

    History teaches us that the societies who promote openness and the sharing of ideas are the people who advance, while those who try to contain ideas or promote only one agenda, always collapse.

    If we do not return to a merit based society, then America is doomed.

    If we promote achievement and the open sharing of ideas, then America will again be the beacon of hope and an inspiration to the nations of the world.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    You make some good points, although I’m not convinced that Nichol was what he is being made out to be.

    P. Galuszka

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Nichol counted on the cowardice of some small minority of the BOV and with Blair he hit pay dirt. Unable to stand the thought of being thought right-wing, poor Blair is now blubbering and crying for everyone to acknowledge his liberal credentials. Nichol accused the BOV of firing him for political reasons and then offering him a bribe to keep quiet. Both are false charges (even Blair disputes the first one). But he hoped to divide the College community and the BOV along ideological grounds, and with some success. Vandals have painted extented middle fingers the Wren building, the nation’s oldest university building still in existence. Blair has done much the same with his pathetic email and resignation. The wolf has carried off one of the mentally-helpless lambs for dinner. We should not morn his loss. That’s politics!

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