Gene R. Nichol served as the 26th president of William & Mary from July 1, 2005 until his resignation on February 12, 2008. Nichol resigned effective immediately due to the Board of Visitors decision to not renew his contract which would have expired on June 30, 2008.
Nichol attended Oklahoma State University in 1973, where he played varsity football and received a degree in philosophy. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Texas, graduating Order of the Coif in 1976. He served as James Gould Cutler Professor and Director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary from 1985 to 1988. Nichol then went on to the position of Law Dean at the University of Colorado from 1988 to 1995, also founding the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law in 1990. Before returning to William & Mary, he was Burton Craige Professor and Dean of the law school at the University of North Carolina and founded the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina in 2001 as well. He was also a faculty member at the University of Florida and West Virginia University.
Nichol has specialized in the study of constitutional law and civil rights. He is the co-author of Federal Courts: Cases, Comments, and Questions (West, 2000) and a contributor to Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent (NewSouth Books, 2004). Nichol has published articles and essays in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, the California Law Review, the Virginia Law Review and an array of other leading legal journals. From 1998 to 1999, he was a political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and the Colorado Daily. From 1999 to 2005, he was a regular op-ed writer for the Raleigh News & Observer. He has also written for The Nation and other periodicals.
Nichol has been significantly involved in public affairs. He has testified before a number of committees of the United States Congress and various state legislatures. In 1991, he was appointed special master by a three-judge federal court in Colorado to mediate a redistricting dispute between the governor and the legislature. The accord was ratified by statute. A year later he helped head the Colorado Reapportionment Commission. In 2004, Nichol led the North Carolina Bi-Partisan Commission on Lobbying Reform; legislation was passed enacting commission recommendations. He ran unsuccessfully for national political office while in Colorado. He has been elected to membership in the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation Fellows.
In 2003, Nichol won the American Bar Association's Edward R. Finch Award for delivering the nation's best Law Day address. Two years later, Governor Michael Easley inducted Nichol into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state of North Carolina's highest civilian honor, and the national judicial access organization, Equal Justice Works, named him outstanding law school dean of the year.
Material in SCRC
- Gene R. Nichol, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library