Michael K. Powell's statement:
February 12, 2008
Dear Members of the College of William and Mary Community,
President Nichol has announced he will not serve the remainder of his term. We had hoped that he would and regret his decision. The Board of Visitors decision not to renew his contract after his current agreement expires on June 30th was extremely difficult. President Nichol achieved some outstanding things during his tenure. His energy and passion is legendary. He is a truly inspirational figure who has enjoyed the affection of many. After an exhaustive review, however, the Board believed there were a number of problems that were keeping the College from reaching its full potential and concluded that those issues could not be effectively remedied without a change of leadership.
It is critical to explain that this decision was not in any way based on ideology or any single public controversy. To suggest such a motivation for the Board is flatly wrong. Indeed, the Board has been repulsed by the personal attacks on the President and his family. The uncharitable personal assaults are unworthy of anyone who professes to care about the College and there should be no joy when things do not work out between good people.
Many policies championed by President Nichol are fully embraced by the Board. We agree unflinchingly with the President’s efforts to make William and Mary a more diverse educational environment. His achievements in this area will be the most enduring part of his legacy. We will continue the pursuit with vigor and will insist that all future presidents of the College do as well. We strongly support the Gateway program and will work to put it on sound financial footing by building an endowment that will allow it to blossom. Equally, we continue to see the enormous value that attends to the efforts of internationalization and civic engagement. And, so there is no doubt, the Board will not allow any change in the compromise reached on the placement of the Wren Cross.
The Board is cognizant that its decision will be deeply disappointing to many, especially members of our faculty and student body. Our sacred stewardship and full insight into the affairs of the College convinced us change was necessary to advance the best interests of the College. We understand the sense of loss and will work hard to heal all wounds.
But it is important to remember that William and Mary is stronger and more enduring than any one person or any one board. It will continue to rise and thrive through the ages. She is the Alma Matter of a Nation and the vibrancy of our students coupled with the wisdom and dedication of our masterful faculty will keep the College shining more brightly than any star in the constellation of higher education.
The College will begin a search for a new president immediately. In the interim, the Board will appoint Dean W. Taylor Reveley effective immediately to serve as President until a permanent leader is found.
Michael K. Powell ‘85
Rector, Board of Visitors