More to the Nichol Story at Wm & Mary

Delegate Bob Marshall inquires why Nichol shouldn’t be dismissed totally instead of reduced from President to tenured law professor – because he allegedly lied.

“February 12, 2008

The Honorable Michael Powell
Rector, College of William & Mary “

“Dear Mr. Powell:

I have just learned that the e-mail that former president, Timothy Sullivan, sent to then-President, Gene Nichol in December of 2006 regarding James McGlothlin’s withdrawal of a $12 million pledge, has been publicly released by the College of William & Mary.

In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that I sent to you dated March 22, 2007, I requested any e-mails or other documents relating to alumni suspending or withdrawing financial pledges to William & Mary (see attached). I was given information by the Freedom of Information Officer but the e-mail in question was not included, nor was it even mentioned. Neither was the letter by McGlothlin to Nichol of December 2006. I don’t know what else might not have been supplied to me that are in the records requested. There were no claims of privilege raised with me by the FOIA Officer and the information I received was supposedly a complete record of contact with the college on this issue.

I would like an explanation of why my FOIA request was deliberately not honored by the College in violation of state law? I would like to renew my FOIA request as stated in the attached letter and hope that this time it will be correctly fulfilled and the law upheld..

Additionally, former President Nichol told me at a lunch that we had in early 2007 that he didn’t know about Mr. McGlothlin’s pledge withdrawal until late February 2007. In light of the release of the e-mail which clearly shows that former President Nichol knew that this pledge was being withdrawn in December 2006, I would also like to request a copy of Gene Nichol’s contract to review.

I would suggest that this intentional and calculated misrepresentation of the truth constitutes failure of duty and gross malfeasance in office which are grounds for his complete termination from the College of William & Mary. It is my understanding that at this time he will be allowed to continue to serve as a professor of law. I cannot believe that a person who would deliberately create such a fabrication in the midst of such turmoil on campus can be an asset in any way to the college.

Please answer these questions at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at” xxxx


Delegate Bob Marshall

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  1. karmicdragonfly Avatar

    I expect Bob Marshall is just mad that Gene Nichol sent out that mass e-mail and didn’t go quietly!

  2. Completely off the topic – Does it bother anybody (other than me) that our federal government is wasting its time (and our money) investigating alleged steriod use among grown men playing a children’s game? Maybe Gene Nichol could take over that “wag the dog” initiative.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Whoa. Can someone give me a reality check here? I have nothing to do with the William & Mary community, but since when is it a conservative, Christian, private school?

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against religious schools. I spent four great years with the Jesuits in high school and got a lot out of it.

    But why should Nichols, whatever his failings, be hounded out because he wasn’t right-wing enough? Who cares about the sex industry thing? What’s next? Censoring classic art and literature?

    And now that the visitors have demoted him, why must he be liquidated and made a non-person?

    Peter Galuszka

  4. Anonymous Avatar


    What a foolish comment. Have you forgotten that the members of the WM Board of Visitors are all democrats appointed by Govs. Warner and Kaine. Nichol did not measure up to their standards. This has nothing to do with conservatives.

    And he is a liar. Isn’t that supposed to be a problem for public officials?

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Oh, Democrats? I see. And what exactly standards didn’t Nichols measure up to? As far as I can tell he was outspoken, temporarily removed a religious symbol and didn’t protest a sex industry show? Please help me. I am trying to understand.

    Peter Galuszka

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Peter, I am surprised that you, as an upholder of government transparency, have expressed no concern about Nichols’ apparent violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

    I’m just guessing here, but I would bet that if W&M had been run by a right-wing, Pat Robertson type of guy, you would be a tad more bothered about the apparent (and I say “apparent” because Del. Marshall’s accusation is still only an accusation) violation of FOIA.

    The request for FOIA information was substantive, not related to the culture-war controversies but to Nichols’ apparent desire to obscure the loss of a multi-million dollar contribution. If the W&M Trustees were willing to discuss why they refused to renew Nichols’ contract, I suspect we would find that they were much more concerned about his fund-raising abilities than his OK of the sex workers show.

    Nichols wants to portray himself as a victim of an ideological witch hunt. Maybe that’s a fair characterization. But the Board of Trustees denies it… so maybe it’s a diversion. At this point, the public does not have enough information to make an informed judgment. We can always hope that someone will spill the beans.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim Bacon,
    Sorry but FOIA seems like a sideshow in a carnival of other horrors, real or imagined. You still haven’t answered my question. What was it about Nichols that so ticked conservatices off? That he dared temporarily remove a crucifix so as not to offend non-Christians at a non-sectarian,non-religious public school? If so, better beware Greater New York City around Christmas when there are zillions of protests against solely Christian symbols of the holiday on public property.
    Maybe he should have responded to the FOIA requests, but that likewise seems highly politicized — conservative-minded alumn were pulling their donations because they didn’t like Nichols. Nichols didn’t want to play a political game. So, this is somehow supposed to be a clear and present danger to the Constitution and Republic? SHould we call out the militia to defend the Supreme Court?

    Once again Jim, please stop dodging the real issue and tell me why Niohols is pserona non grata? And then tell me that Virginia’s public universities are NOT politicized.

    I dare you! I double dare you! I double dog dare you!

    Peter Galuszka

  8. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Peter, you know that I am not one to shy away from a double dog dare! But I cannot tell you why Nichols was persona non grata with the Board of Trustees. As was pointed out above, most (if not all) of the Trustees were appointed either by Mark Warner or Tim Kaine, so they are unlikely to be right-wing, culture-war zealots. Other than to insist that they were not motivated by ideology, they chose not to disclose their reasons for not renewing Nichols’ contract.

    I would conjecture that the reason had to do with Nichols’ ability to raise money for the school. But we won’t know if that was a factor until W&M provides an update on the progress of its fund-raising efforts.

  9. Jim Bacon Avatar

    And, Groveton, I do agree with you that Congress is showboating with its investigations into baseball steroid abuse. But, then… that’s Congress. It’s comprised of politicians who continually seek the limelight. What else do we expect?

  10. hobermallow Avatar

    this “After the fact” disclosure of an alternate reason to get rid of nichol sounds flimsy to me. Nichol was well known as a good fundraiser when he came to W&M. And i can’t believe a government official would be claiming FOIA problems; state governments are generally terrible at responding fully to such things, either because of laxness or design.

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