Ex-W&M President Nichol Writes Of Conservative Forces

October 31st, 2008 by WY Daily Staff

Ex-W&M President Nichol Writes Of Conservative Forces

Former College of William and Mary President Gene Nichol discussed the movement to oust him from office in a column in the Oct. 31 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Commenting on a new book written by University of California-Santa Barbara Professor Christopher Newfield detailing an alleged conservative assault on public universities, Nichol said that his experiences at the College provide evidence for Newfield’s assertions. He cites the Wren Cross controversy as an example.

“My own controversial tenure as president of [the College] offers a good deal of evidence to ratify Newfield’s claims,” Nichol wrote. “After altering the way a Christian cross was displayed in a public facility, on a public-university campus, in a chapel used regularly for secular events both voluntary and mandatory, I was treated to a potent dose of cultural contest.”

Nichol also described his involvement in the Sex Worker’s Art Show controversy.

“When I then refused to ban a student-sponsored, sexually tinged performance-art program — a ban that would have flatly violated the First Amendment — the controversy became acute beyond the campus walls,” Nichol wrote.

Nichol said the Wren Cross controversy and Sex Worker’s Art Show incidents were strongly influenced by conservative forces and left a negative mark on his presidency and the College as a whole.

“I’ve seen at close hand the impact that battling bloggers, right-wing donors, fevered Fox News firebrands, demagogic legislators, and trustees unschooled in and uncommitted to the core values of a university can have upon a presidency and an institution,” Nichol wrote. “They are nothing to scoff at.”

Nichol is currently a professor of law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The entire book review is available online by paid subscription at the Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as at local public libraries.

3 Responses to Ex-W&M President Nichol Writes Of Conservative Forces

  1. Anonymous

    October 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I liked Gene personally, but didn’t like his policies. To say that he’s a bit bitter would be an understatement based on his comments here. As a graduate of the College who thought he was ineffective and high-handed in his actions, I’m not sure where I fit into his categories: “battling…right-wing…fevered…firebrand…demagogic or unschooled.” I always thought of myself as just a proud W&M alum.

  2. Anonymous

    October 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Academia has been a safe haven for rabid liberalism for longer than anyone can remember. When the real world intruded on Gene Nichol’s dream of foisting his liberal agenda on our beloved College his temper tantrums were no surprise. I believe that the decision to not renew his contract was a shining moment for the values, culture and history of our College that he alledgedy holds so dear.

  3. Anonymous

    October 31, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    A public university or college should not be controlled by any particular idealogical group or ideas…guess what?…that means that the learning banquet is LIMITED. I was a quiet, naive country girl from Washington State who yearned to attend UC Berkeley in the 60’s, because I witnessed young people who expressed ideas against the norm. Years later, I DID get to attend and as an adult, I still admired and respected the youth who extended their thinking beyond the restrictions imposed by their parents and others. Too bad that outside influences can have so much power over what is offered as educational rights on a public campus. As I told you at Starbuck’s when I saw you at times, President Nichols, in my opinion you are a hero. So be it.

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