Thursday, April 12, 2007

Request to BOV - William and Mary deserves better

The following letter is posted at the request and with the permission of the author. Perhaps we can take heed and do our part to support her so eloquent request.

April 11, 2007

Michael Powell
Rector, Board of Visitors,
College of William and Mary
7921 Bracksford Court
Fairfax Station, VA 22039

Dear Mr. Powell:

As the Board of Visitors prepares to meet for the last time this school year on April 19-20th, I am compelled to write you with regard to Gene Nichol.

With his contract expiring in July 2008 and the one-year-notice clause coming due shortly, I assume that contract renewal or non-renewal will be on the agenda for this last BOV meeting. Please consider the following list as abundantly ample cause for non-renewal of this president’s contract:

1. With the Wren Cross decisions of October and December 2006, Nichol created a problem of such magnitude that it took five months and a committee to reach some sort of agreement. As of this date, the decision made by the Committee on Religion has yet to be implemented and the cross remains in the closet. There is no indication from the Committee as to when the topic will be discussed again.

2. The Committee’s decision to put the Wren Cross in a glass case was based, in part at least, on the University of Virginia’s practice. In truth, UVA has not implemented any kind of glass case for its cross; indeed their cross sits as it ever was, on the altar. When queried about a timeline for implementing a decision made last October, the public relations person avoided answering the question. I could not get a sense of when their glass case would be made much less where it would end up. The only conclusion to draw is that UVA’s president has no intention of changing anything with regard to its cross, but said they were fixin’ to do something so that Gene Nichol might hang his hat on it. Thus Nichol’s Committee decision is based on false data.

3. Admissions growth to the College has decreased by 80% since he came into office.

4. The loss of millions in alumni donations during Nichol’s tenure is a public disgrace and entirely Nichol’s fault.

5. The loss of our good name and reputation as a top tier school through the negative publicity on the Wren Cross decisions, as well as the Sex Show and the obscene photograph in the Flat Hat, both of which Nichol supports, is a loss that will take years to overcome.

I am deeply disturbed by the lack of understanding Mr. Nichol reveals by his actions and his own pen. He seems to be a man with charisma but with little understanding of our College’s great and noble history and the role alumni play in keeping it so. He also seems to be without a moral compass of any kind; a great leader he is not. Surely the Board can find a better man or woman to serve as president who will not only revere and protect our college’s traditions and history, but one who has the maturity and wisdom to avoid rash and petty actions that result in a downward spiral of our reputation.

Great leaders must rise to the challenge of making tough decisions. Your job now as Rector is to guide the Board in deciding the future of our beloved College. The College can neither withstand nor afford three more years of Gene Nichol’s brand of leadership. Please release him so that he may find a job that better suits his temperament, his goals, and his politics. William and Mary will be better off by far.

Yours sincerely,

Karla K. Bruno
Class of 1981 and 1992

cc: BOV members
Gene Nichol

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cross-linked letter to the Board of Visitors

I have cross-linked a letter I wrote to the William and Mary Board of Visitors. This will be sent to them using my read name as an alum of The College - Letter to William and Mary BOV - Let Gene Nichol go!

William and Mary - On Good Friday, Nichol's "cold and cruel" insult

Frequently, comments left at posts "get lost" to the general reader. Here are the comments left at William and Mary - Numero Uno. Some of the links are no longer available and one was not complete. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

Do you think when Nichol finally crashes and burns we might get a real grown-up next time? It's getting to the point where you try to avoid admitting you have a degree from W&M.

6:27 PM

Anonymous said...

Here's a website that gives Paul Harvey's view of the efforts of the politically correct thugs to remake America by bullying and lawyering the rest of us into submission:
In God We Trust [link no longer active]

It's time we said we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!

12:58 PM

Mike '80 said...

No Nickels for Nichol. Hopefully, we all withhold funds to express distrust in this man. He is a cultural terrorist, and we should never negotiate with terrorists. Our BOV should see to it that this is this intellectual terrorist's last graduation day at W&M.

Mike '80

6:40 PM

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we need to use our own petition system, like the University of Richmond did when they recently ousted their errant president. See below:

He was chided for comments in a "state of the university" address to staff members in which he discussed efforts to attract more talented students to the private liberal arts school.

"The entering quality of our student body needs to be much higher if we are going to transform bright minds into great achievers instead of transforming mush into mush, and I mean it," he said. He later apologized and said his comments were misinterpreted.

That did not appease many graduates of the 3,000-student school, who called for his ouster and threatened to withhold contributions. Thousands of alumni put their names on an online petition demanding new leadership.

In December, trustees expressed disappointment in Cooper but voted to allow him to continue as president.

His resignation takes effect June 30, 2007. After a yearlong sabbatical, he will return to the faculty, spokesman Dan Kalmanson said.

Richmond University President to step down

12:39 AM

Del said...

Just thought I would share the following with you, especially those who somehow think we have achieved any victory in this matter.

I was crossing the William and Mary campus this beautiful Good Friday afternoon and decided to stop in and spend a few minutes in the Wren Chapel. On entering the chapel I couldn't believe my eyes. The Millington Cross was not on the altar table.

Gene Nichol has said he took his recent actions to be inclusive -- that obviously doesn't include Christians. This act on Easter weekend which includes the two most important days in history for all Christians when we remember the crucifixion and death of Christ for our sins, and the Resurrection of Christ to our eternal salvation. There is no way this could have been an act of omission, but was clearly a deliberate act.

Gene Nichol could not have committed a greater insult. It is unbelievably cold and evil. His actions scream volumes about his intent to make Christians the most unwelcome of all other groups of people.

On my way off the campus I stopped in front of his house, knelt and prayed for him and the college.

In defense of the Cross of Christ

1:42 PM

Monday, April 02, 2007

William and Mary - Numero Uno

Yes, we beat the West Coast and I'm sure this is publicity that the BOV would not like. Not at all, not at all. But we did manage to win an award, topping the University of California at Berkeley. Now that takes some doing. For those of you who may miss this info, I have included two links for your here.

De-feathered and with our Wren Cross under glass, we still managed to win the coveted $1,000 top prize. That will no doubt go to off-set the millions President Nichol's managed to toss away all by himself due to his "insentitive" behavior.

Here are the links:

The first to Karen of We're #1.

Second is the awards described at Campus Magazine Online, 2007 Campus Outrage Awards.

I added my tiny bit as well with William and Mary - no feathers but still Numero Uno!.

Hats off to the men and women - students, alumni, concerned citizens, all - who said "enough" to tyranny!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Congratulations, and many many thanks, for your courage and fortitude throughout this fiasco. You have done your College proud, and truly defended freedom of speech and worship. I hope you young men and women have learned just how hostile our culture is becoming to traditional Christianity; there are many of us older folks who look to you with gratitude, and pray for your strength in the future. Your generation wil have to fight this battle many times in the course of your lives.

Godspeed to you all!

James Arrington
(native of Virginia !)
Austin TX

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wren Cross - Leaders of Comment

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Save the Wren Cross
Date: Mar 7, 2007 5:22 PM
Subject: Statement in Response to W&M's Announcement of new cross display policy
Please find the press statement attached and pasted below.

March 7, 2007                          Email:

Cross Returned to Wren Chapel
Leaders of Comment

WILLIAMSBURG , VA — The following is a statement of leaders of in response to yesterday's press conference at William and Mary announcing the return of the Wren Cross to Wren Chapel:

We are very thankful that the Wren Cross will be returned to permanent display in Wren Chapel.
While there remain very important issues related to the nature of the display of the cross in Wren Chapel to be addressed by the Religion Committee, we express gratitude today to a number of people who contributed to making yesterday's return of the cross possible.

First, the staffs of the two William and Mary student newspapers deserve a salute: The Flat Hat for first bringing to light the news of the cross' removal; The Virginia Informer for providing an opportunity for a thoughtful debate of the issues involved; and both for their continued coverage.

Second, we are thankful for the thousands of students, alumni, faculty, and friends of the College who signed and supported the petition that helped bring attention to this issue. Many of these signatories helped define the issues and explain the consequences of the cross' removal in letters to the editors and op-eds across Virginia .

Third, we thank the Governor and Attorney General of Virginia, who both made statements in support of returning the cross to Wren Chapel.

Fourth, we thank the Religion Committee, which deserves great credit for its leadership and swift action, in particular its two co-chairs Professors Alan Meese and Jim Livingston. Lastly, we thank members of the media who understood the importance of this issue and responsibly covered it.  
We believe that the Religion Committee has acted in tremendously good faith and with the best interests of William and Mary uppermost in their minds.   We applaud them for taking the initiative to expedite their deliberations with regard to the display of the cross. 
We are especially grateful that the unanimous judgment of William and Mary's Religion Committee to return the cross is an unambiguous repudiation of the destructive idea that William and Mary should ever tolerate intolerance towards religious symbols.
We urge the Committee to follow through on an implementation of a cross display practice that is consistent with those used by other Colonial Colleges with historic Christian chapels.

 We also urge the Committee to follow through on its original charge to examine broader questions involving the role of religion at public universities, and to solicit a wide spectrum of student, alumni, and community input. Following through on this mission is all the more important in wake of the Committee's recommendation adopted yesterday by the Board of Visitors.

 Specifically, there is still a significant amount of clarity that the Religion Committee can provide to the issues involving the display of the cross. With the removal of the cross from Wren Chapel last October, there was a theory advanced over the last several months – as late as March 1 -- about the inappropriateness of the ongoing display of a Christian cross in an historic Christian chapel. With the Committee's unanimous recommendation, this theory has clearly been repudiated.

Yet, in the 71 word recommendation by the Committee, no explanation has been advanced for why its new approach to the cross display policy has been adopted. We believe it is important to ground in sound reason and logic the rationale for departing from the previous cross display policy that had been in place for nearly 70 years.

 This is especially important since we are a university community, and since as the second oldest university in America – and one of her great liberal arts universities -- the decisions made on this campus have great significance. They must be thoughtful, made with deliberate consultation, with accountability, and above all, with respect to the traditions and heritage that make William and Mary the Alma Mater of a Nation.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record….Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."   When we proceed to alter traditions, a decent respect for public and College community opinion would suggest that a thorough accounting and explanation for such a departure is warranted.

The leaders of the are W&M students and alumni who had not known one another prior to the start of this effort. We resolve to remain fully engaged in the work of the Religion Committee's ongoing deliberations about the display of the cross and the more general questions about the role of religion at a public university that it will address. We resolve further to remain engaged in the future life of the College, especially in matters relating to protecting and celebrating its heritage. We also resolve to engage in efforts to ensure that William and Mary continues to be a place that is welcoming to people of all faiths, in the American tradition of religious pluralism.                                                                                                       

Wren Cross Editorial in the Washington Times

An editorial appears in today's Washington Times, A first step at W&M.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Groves and Keenan - Letters to the Editor in the Daily Press - Mar. 4, 2007

At cross purposes with W&M's welfare:

The inevitable has happened as sthe College of Aillam and Mary. Earlier, the college's board of visitors proudly stated its support of Prffesident Gen Nichol's decision regarding display of the cross in the Wren Chapel, and in fact, the board further stated that furture donations to the school would not likely be jeopradized. Now, it is reported that a significant and sizeable donation of $12 million has been revoked.

And now, the good Mr. Nichol exclaims how unfortunate this is, because "it will only hurt the students." What arrogance, or stupidity! Nichol fails to understand, or simply will not admint to the fact that the revoked denotation is clearly his own doing, and that it is he who has hurt the students, not the donor. His unthinking decision to remove the cross reflects badly not only on himself and the school's official board, but also on the school itself, which has gained national notoriety over this controversy and is already distinguished as one of the most liberal colleges in the country.

How could this not have been anticipated?

John Groves

No middle way:

Reference the cross debate at the Wren Chapel. If I went to China and visited a Buddhist temple I would expect to see a Buddha there. There are many other examples of this ty[e of expression in places of worship in the world - a cross in the Wren Chapel is one of them.

Our area was populated to provide religious freedom, and a cross is appropriate for Anglican early America. The College of William and Mary is a historical site as well as educational.

I oppose a middle option as luckwarm and undefining of who we were as early Americans. The cross is approprate to define our heritage in Williamsburg and the present United States.

Faye Keenan


These editorials appeared in the Daily Press. I was unable to find the links for the editorials and so I entered the actual comments here.

Todd Skiles - So here we stand - A Matter of Trust

So here we stand, our lines drawn, our letters displayed and our positions entrenched. How did we get here? Why did it have to come to this? One word: TRUST. Mr. Nichol has broken his trust with 17,000 people, many of whom are alumni. So in the interest of perhaps breaching the first attempt reach common accord, I seek to outline why that trust is broken:

1. The first round began with the now admitted mistake that decisions regarding a 100 year old gift in a 300yo building require the input of more than one person.

2. It could be said that Nichol displayed rude behavior by his refusal to meet with students who asked for an interview under the common business practice of "not being in the office" when photographic evidence proved he was. No explanation was ever given. In truth, he was available, just not available to those particular students.

3. There is the outright refusal to answer the letters of alumni who are confused, hurt or angry, even those who were members of the Board of Visitors, such as Ms. Linda Skladany.

4. There was Sex Show where Mr. Nichol didn't lift a finger to stop the display of prostitution, pornography and sex toys, while he fights so valiantly to stop the display of a little brass cross.

5. There was the attempt by his Public Relations Director to lie about the Sex Show by accusing two students of hypocrisy for "allowing" a sex show despite their registered vocal opposition and opposing vote in the Student Senate.

6. There was the refusal to respond to the accusations of the lies by Mr. Connelly in item 5 above.

7. There was the presumptive attitude by the College that when an alumnus changes his mind about a $12 million donation from his private funds, that they were entitled to the money, and the accusations of blackmail or bribery by suggesting he was attempting to "buy" college policy when he changed his mind.

8. There was the published letter that prompted this debate that implied that a single brass cross was more offensive than UVA's brass cross, stone carvings and embellished windows, as well as the implication that supporters of the Millington Cross are bigots who blame non-Christians for bringing down the college. This was childish and uncalled-for. Professor Rafael's coveted office in the Wren Building does not give him the priviledge to make these accusations.

A few hundred years ago the Church punished Galileo for having the audacity to challenge them. In 1992 Pope John Paul II issued the equivilent of an apology for this arrogant mistake. Now we face a College President who will stop at nothing to discredit or avoid those who have the audacity to challenge his Imperial Presidency. We face another executive who has appointed himself "The Decider." We have an executive who preaches dignity in one breath, and knowingly slanders, dismisses, patronizes and lies to those who dare disagree with him. We can never have a rational conversation in this environment.

Todd Skiles
W&M 1992

Andrew McRoberts' Response to Nichol's op ed


Editorial piece from Andrew McRoberts in response to Nichol's op ed. Changes of getting the op ed published perhaps being slim, I have included McRoberts' piece here:

Having today (Sunday, March 4th, 2007) submitted the following final version to various newspapers to respond to Nichol’s op ed, Mr. Andrew McRoberts wrote:

Nichol’s Push for His Values Wounds William & Mary

At the heart of his recent op ed, Nichol included an e-mail, authored by one of the professors who signed a faculty petition supporting Nichol. This professor’s e-mail implies that Jewish students, as a general matter, have refused to attend William & Mary due to its cross. This is certainly not true.

Consider this: The family in the e-mail was reportedly deciding between William & Mary and UVa. If the professor’s implication were true, Jewish students would never have attended either school. If the small cross at W&M made them walk, the UVa chapel’s cross and prominent Christian imagery in numerous stained glass windows must have made them run. Have there been no Jewish graduates from these fine schools?

The fact is, even with the small cross and the Christian heritage of our College, Jewish families have gladly graduated their students from W&M for generations. One such alumnus, Jonathan M. Baron ’92, of B’nai Tzedek Congregation of Potomac, Maryland wrote, “The attempt to justify, even in part, the removal of the cross as some sort of accommodation of the broader Jewish community is terribly unfortunate. The suggestion of a general Jewish intolerance for Christian symbols located in places of Christian worship is misguided…. Judaism does not gain by denying Christians their historic spaces and practices, including when those spaces and practices extend to the public square.”

The professor’s e-mail then mentions another family that reportedly blamed the ills of the College on acceptance of non-Christian students. Alumni I know – Christian or not – do not feel that way at all. They accept an increasing diversity at the College. However, they oppose the erosion of an important tradition of the College at Nichol’s direction. And why not? The cross was there during the College years of nearly every living alumni. They do not blame non-Christians. They blame Nichol.

Nichol points to a “single student” at an Honor Society induction in the Wren Chapel as an example of the need to remove the cross. Let’s assume it was proper for the “single student” to be intolerant about the presence of the historic cross, and his or her feelings to prevail over others’ feelings. But why blame the policy rather than the organization for failing to remove the “offensive” cross? Wouldn’t better education about the policy have been less disruptive and less offensive to thousands of others?

“William & Mary must be welcoming to all,” Nichol says. The Wren Chapel is no longer welcoming to the 17,000 who signed the petition at Save the Wren, which supports a return to the former policy (the cross was displayed as a general rule, and removed when requested for a particular use). This growing petition has the signatures of about 4,000 alumni, well over 500 students, and 6,000 Virginia residents. Parents, family members and other friends of the College have signed. They feel excluded, not welcome.

Even Nichol admits his policy to be “welcoming” has failed, at least implicitly. He admits it has been divisive and hurtful. Nichol says his policy may have inflicted "wounds too deep to be overcome." [Note from Beach Girl - proving Nichol doesn't know the students or alumni at all.]

Nichol insists, “We must place all religions on an equal footing, rather than signing on to a particular tradition.” Nichol’s goal is not religious diversity, it is religious neutrality (perhaps even the absence of religion). Diversity involves the addition of new religious traditions, not the subtraction of old ones. Equal footing? 99% of the College campus has no religious symbols, Christian or otherwise.

But let’s be fair. The College did not “sign on” to Christianity. It is the reverse. Christians founded the College, and fostered it for over two hundred years. Christians have worshipped in the Wren Chapel since the early 18th century. At a minimum, fairness requires that this 300-year old tradition be represented by one simple cross in a place of honor at William & Mary. History demands it.

I am not sure there are many things worth sacrificing our College’s reputation over. If there are, the hiding of an important historical, religious and cultural tradition of the College cannot be one. But Nichol sees things differently. He wants his values to be the College's “core values.”

Are Nichol’s values really more important than the College’s reputation, history and traditions? Are his values more important than the values of a growing number of alumni, students, parents and friends, not to mention Virginia taxpayers and even the Williamsburg community, all of whom love the College?

Nichol’s last words reveal much: "These heady goals ... are more important than one president." Apparently, he has chosen to push his values on the College community or end his presidency in the attempt. Win or lose, he will leave William & Mary with “wounds too deep to overcome” for years to come.

Andrew McRoberts


Great editorial - Note from Beach Girl - my guess is when nichol's so graciously resigns from his "job", the "wounds" he sought to inflict permenantly will vanish as fleetingly as the wisp of a butterfly's wing. Actually, to me, the thought of him leaving soon is like a healing balm.

Save the Wren Cross Blog "viewers"

We have a sitemeter at the Save the Wren Cross Blog. I thought I'd share the statistics with you effective March 1, 2007.

Save the Wren Cross Blog

-- Site Summary ---

Total ........................ 5,095
Average per Day ................ 110
Average Visit Length .......... 5:28
This Week ...................... 771

Page Views

Total ........................ 8,876
Average per Day ................ 203
Average per Visit .............. 1.8
This Week .................... 1,418

These are very good statistics recording the number of times the blog has been accessed. Of course, any given person can view the blog as often as they like and each visit will add to the total.

I thought you would like to know the "traffic" the blog is receiving. These numbers are great for a "new" blog. Also, viewers are now beginning to have chats and make comments. All indicating that people on either side of the issue are communicating with each other. To see the comments, scroll to the bottom of a posting, and click on comments. You can leave a new comment and/or you can read the previous comments for that post. This discussion is uplifting in that it shows to me that all of us want the College of William and Mary to maintain it's well-deserved prestige, and it show that the commenters care for their college and their affiliation with it and with each other as undergraduates, graduates, and so forth.

I put a "hit counter" on the blog almost immediately so you can see that people are reading the blog. It is a good place as well for many of you to engage in discussions you may now be engaging in through e-mails - not everything discussed in e-mails is appropriate on the blog site but you may find that folks on the other side do want to engage in dialogue.

And there are some questions perhaps that the folks may want to ask the folks who support the "revised" policy. That is the sense I get from reviewing some of the comments. Jump in, the water is fine. I hope you find these statistics helpful.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

$12 Millon Donor Revokes Pledge

WILLIAMSBURG -- A longtime donor to the College of William and Mary has revoked an approximately $12 million pledge to the university over the Wren Chapel cross controversy, school officials confirmed Tuesday.

The money, earmarked for the school's $500 million Campaign for William and Mary, had been pledged as an estate provision in the donor's will.

The donation - pledged to the campaign fund before Gene Nichol became the university's president - was revoked because the donor, who wasn't identified, disagreed with Nichol's decision to remove a brass cross from permanent display on the chapel's altar, spokesman Mike Connolly said.

Nichol said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday afternoon that he was "heartsick" to learn of the decision. "It represents a serious setback to the college," he wrote. "And while I know it is intended to make a policy statement, ultimately it only hurts our students."

Whenever I hear the comment that withholding money hurts the students, I immediately think that there are ways to hurt the students that have nothing to do with money. In my opinion, it is hurtful to the students for them to have the school's heritage tossed out like an old sweater that doesn't fit any more; it is hurtful to tell the students that Christianity is an offensive religion while hosting the "Sex Workers Art Show," the "Vagina Monologues" and the Lamda Alliance's Drag Ball; it is hurtful for secular humanist professors to tell them that everything their parents taught them is wrong and naive. I know about that last one -- I spent 15 years in the wilderness because of it. And that was long before the school became as "diverse" as it is now.

When I see what the schools is doing with the money I give them, I realize that I can best "help" the students by sending my money somewhere else.