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February 15, 2008

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John C

I agree with everything you say here, and I understand that you are approaching this issue from a pragmatist standpoint - it's not what President Nichol did, it's how he did it.

That being said, I have a slight quibble with point 3: "Recognize that you are not the institution. Sometimes it is better to have another spokesperson take the lead on controversial matters. How about having the dean of the law school lead the institutional response to a first amendment issue rather than you as president? Or how about having the University general counsel make the first statement on the right of student groups to invite controversial groups to campus? Then you can come in and be part of a great robust, educational conversation."

Doesn't that seem a little self-serving? If a college president is the one behind a controversial initiative, shouldn't he have the courage of his convictions and defend/announce the policy in public? I understand that you are trying to say that Nichol would have been better off enlisting other to his aid, but point 3 has a too much "hiding the ball" for my tastes. Number 2 also, I think, is a little smarmy; "make up a committee that is predetermined to find your answer, and then hide behind that committee."

I understand what you are trying to say - if Nichol played the P.R. game better, he might have survived. Isn't it sad, though, that playing such a game is necessary? I would be interested in your thoughts on that.

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