Nichol Leaving Law School to Head William and Mary

Law School Dean Gene Nichol, known for attracting a couple of high-profile experts to the school and for airing his strong views on law and politics in a newspaper column, will leave Chapel Hill to become president of the College of William and Mary.

The board of visitors of the country’s second-oldest university unanimously approved Nichol’s appointment. He leaves UNC after six years and will begin the new job July 1 – returning to a school where he taught for three years and was director of its Institute of Bill of Rights Law.

“William and Mary has made a very wise and insightful choice for its next president,” Chancellor James Moeser said in a prepared statement. “Their gain is clearly our loss, but we celebrate the fact that a Chapel Hill colleague has been chosen for the leadership of one of America’s most venerable and distinguished institutions.

“Gene is deeply committed to the concept of public higher education, and the UNC School of Law has benefited greatly from his passion for public service and his visionary leadership.”

While at Chapel Hill Nichol attracted renowned civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers ’62 (LLBJD) to the school to direct a new Center for Civil Rights. More recently, he brought former U.S. Senator John Edwards ’77 (JD) to Carolina as director of a new Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

Nichol was regularly was praised and pilloried by letter writers to The News & Observer of Raleigh for his opinion columns.

He came to UNC in 1999 from the deanship of the University of Colorado Law School. He also had taught at Oxford and Exeter in the United Kingdom, and had been a decorated professor at the law school at West Virginia. He ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate from Colorado in 1996, losing in the primary.

“William and Mary today has greatness within its grasp,” current President Timothy J. Sullivan said of Nichol’s appointment, calling him “a president who has the capacity to seize that opportunity.”

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