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Gene R. Nichol Named President-elect Of the College of William and Mary

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By unanimous vote, the William and Mary Board of Visitors has named Gene R. Nichol the 26th president of the college. Currently the Dean and Burton Craige Professor of the Law School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nichol will succeed Timothy J. Sullivan, who has served as president of William and Mary since 1992. The new president will take office on July 1, 2005.

“I am delighted to be asked to serve as president of William and Mary, which I consider a national treasure,” Nichol said. “I have always believed that it is vital in a democracy that public universities—not just private universities—compete at the highest levels of the American academy, and that this engaged, ennobling, focused experience of a liberal arts education not be reserved for just the private sphere.”

When Nichol takes office, it will mark his return to William and Mary, as he served here from 1985 to 1988 as Cutler Professor of Constitutional Law and director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law.

“We are very pleased to welcome Gene back to the college, and we look forward to following the progress of his presidency,” said Rector Susan Aheron Magill, who chaired the search committee. “His considerable experience and numerous contributions here and elsewhere speak volumes about his ability to lead, strengthen and develop higher education institutions.”

The vote of the board took place in the Blue Room of the historic Christopher Wren Building, the traditional meeting site of the Board of Visitors. Magill expects Nichol’s inauguration to take place this fall.

“William and Mary today has greatness within its grasp,” said current President Timothy J. Sullivan. “The Board of Visitors has selected a president who has the capacity to seize that opportunity.”

Nichol was named law dean at Chapel Hill in 1999. Prior to that, he had served as professor and dean at the University of Colorado Law School. He has taught courses on constitutional law, federal courts, political reform and civil rights. He has also taught at the universities of Oxford and Exeter in the United Kingdom, and at the law school of West Virginia University, where he was a three-time winner of the Posten Faculty Research Award.

The president-elect is the co-author of the text Federal Courts and has published articles on civil liberties and federal judicial power in a wide variety of journals, including the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Review and the University of Chicago Law Review. He contributed articles on civil rights and public law litigation for the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, and one on the civil rights movement printed in the Oxford Companion to the United States Supreme Court. Over the course of his career, Nichol has testified on constitutional matters before committees of the U.S. Congress and various state legislatures.

Nichol also has been active in civic and public affairs. He has served as a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s board of governors and the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, and as chair of the Governor’s Bipartisan Commission on Campaign Finance Reform (Colorado) and a task force on the quality of justice established by the Colorado Supreme Court. Nichol also was named special master by a three-judge federal court in Martinez v. Romer to resolve a dispute between the governor and legislature over the drawing of federal congressional districts.

In 1996, Nichol ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate from Colorado. He won the state convention, but lost in the primary.

Nichol attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a degree in philosophy and played quarterback on the varsity football team. In 1976, he graduated from the University of Texas Law School, where he was named to the Order of the Coif.

He is married to Glenn George and they have three daughters, Jesse, Jenny and Soren. George is also a law professor at U. N. C., from which she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1975. She is also a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.

Founded in 1693, the College of William and Mary is the nation’s second oldest institution of higher education. It enrolls 5,000 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students in the arts and sciences, business, education, law and marine science, and is widely known as one of the country’s “public Ivys,” state-assisted institutions that offer high-quality programs at modest tuition rates.

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