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Nichol withdraws from UW Law School dean search

By David Ziemer and Caley Clinton
Wisconsin Law Journal

As the search for the next dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School draws to a close, one of the three finalists has withdrawn from consideration.

Gene Nichol

Gene Nichol

Gene Nichol, professor and director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina School of Law, informed the UW of his decision Tuesday, said David Musolf, secretary of the faculty.

No reason was given.

The two finalists still in the running are Nicholas Allard, partner at Washington D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs LLP, and Margaret Raymond, William G. Hammond professor of law at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Raymond is also a finalist for the dean position at the University of Colorado Boulder Law School.

Asked if the school would add anyone to the short list of finalists following Nichol’s withdrawal, Musolf said, “the short list is the short list. The chancellor (Biddy Martin) and provost (Paul DeLuca Jr.) will have to decide if they want to make an appointment from those selections.”

Nichol confirmed his withdrawal from consideration Wednesday, but declined to elaborate on his reason.

He has served as dean at prestigious law schools before — at the University of Colorado from 1988 to 1995 and the University of North Carolina from 1999 to 2005. Nichol served as president of the College of William & Mary from 2005 to 2008.

During his time at William & Mary, a public university, Nichol caused controversy due to his decision to remove the cross from the campus’ Wren Chapel, which dates to the 1600s. The issue resulted in the Board of Visitors declining to renew Nichols contract as president.

Trotter Hardy, a law professor at William & Mary, described Nichol as “a great guy personally,” with “wonderful qualities,” who “has been very successful when he has served as dean at other law schools.”

Nichol “didn’t click” at William & Mary, however, he said.

“It’s not just that he pursued liberal policies, but he did so without any approval from the Board (of Visitors),” Hardy said.

In addition to his current work at the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, Nichol teaches courses in constitutional law, federal courts, civil rights and election law at UNC.

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