The boss vs. the cross at William & Mary

I’ve written several times about the noxious decision of Gene Nichol, president of the College of William & Mary, to remove the cross from historic Wren Chapel. You can also follow the controversy at
The matter may be coming to a head because the school’s governing Board of Visitors meets this coming Thursday and Friday, and Nichol’s opponents on this issue, including some big contributors to the school, are pressing for a reversal of his decision. Nichol reportedly has threatened to resign if he’s overturned.
Against this background, Thomas Lipscomb takes a look at the tactics being employed on Nichol’s behalf. It seems that a former William & Mary Dean, Robert Archibald, has circulated a petition to every department of the faculty. The petition expresses support for President Nichol’s “pollcy for the Wren Chapel.” Apparently, this covers not only the decision to remove the cross, but any other decisions Nichol might make about the Chapel (and Nichol has signaled that he’s not done). Archibald says that the petition is an attempt to counteract the pressure being placed on the Board of Visitors to overrule Nichol. But Lipscomb argues that the petition places pressure on faculty members (including those lacking tenure) to swear an oath of loyalty to the president.
Lipscomb makes another interesting point when he notes that of the eight schools known as the Colonial Colleges — William & Mary, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, and Rutgers — all but William & Mary have a cross almost always on display in their historic chapel. To be sure, Rutgers is the only other state college in the group, and Nichol makes much of William & Mary’s state school status. But I find it significant that the presidents of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, and Rutgers seem not to have concluded, as Nichol has, that the display of a cross in an historic chapel divides the college community into Christians and “others” (or “insiders” and “outsiders”) to the detriment of the “others.”
And, heaven knows, it’s not that political correctness and heightened sensitivity for the feelings of “diverse” populations are absent at these seven schools. It’s just that Nichol’s special brand of political correctness– hard core ACLU dogma — hasn’t yet penetrated sufficiently.
Let’s hope that the Board of Visitors, and if not them then the State of Virginia, sees to it that ACLU dogma doesn’t carry the day at William & Mary either.


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