$12M Pledge to W&M Withdrawn

February 28, 2007


Source: Daily Press


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The donation - pledged to the campaign fund before Gene Nichol became the university's president - was revoked because the donor, who wasn't identified, disagreed with Nichol's decision to remove a brass cross from permanent display on the chapel's altar, spokesman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

The rescinded donation is another blow to a university struggling to deal with what has become a national controversy.

Nichol decided in October that a cross displayed in the Wren Chapel should be stored in a sacristy to make the chapel welcoming to students of all faiths. The cross could be brought out upon request at any time. He later said the cross should be returned to the altar each Sunday.