updated 3/15/2005 1:09:22 AM ET 2005-03-15T06:09:22

Gene R. Nichol, law school dean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was selected Monday as president of the College of William and Mary, the country’s second oldest college after Harvard.

The choice by William and Mary’s Board of Visitors was unanimous. Nichol will replace Timothy J. Sullivan on July 1.

Sullivan last summer announced plans to step down after 12 years, citing a need for a change in leadership that would bring “new energy” to a school considered a “Public Ivy” for its academic reputation.

Nichol said he was delighted at the prospect to lead a school he considers a “national treasure.”

Nichol is no stranger to William and Mary. He was a constitutional law professor and director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at the college from 1985 to 1988.

In 1999, Nichol became law dean at Chapel Hill. Previously, he had served as professor and dean of the University of Colorado’s law school. He also taught at the universities of Oxford and Exeter, and at West Virginia University’s law school.

In Colorado, Nichol ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1996, losing the primary.

Founded in 1693, William and Mary has 5,000 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students.

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