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RWU president resigns from Bristol school

July 6, 2010

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BRISTOL, R.I.—The president of Roger Williams University has resigned, the school announced on Tuesday, though it did not give a reason for the departure.

The university said in a statement that its board of trustees had accepted Roy Nischel's resignation last week. The school says Nirschel will spend time traveling and relaxing while he decides what to do next.

Nirschel did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Nirschel arrived at the Bristol university in 2001 after three years as president at Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., and after serving as an administrator at the University of Miami and the University of Pittsburgh.

A biography on the Roger Williams website says that applications to the school have doubled under his tenure, and the acceptance rate fell more than 25 percent. The endowment has more than doubled, according to the school's website.

Board President Richard Bready said in a written statement that the school is searching for a new president, and described Nirschel's departure as a "mutual decision" following weeks of discussions about the university's future.

He did not immediately return a phone message on Tuesday.

In an interview published in May on the website of the university's student newspaper, The Hawk's Herald, Nirschel said he was not sure how much longer he would stay as president. But he did not suggest his departure was imminent.

"When (it) is no longer fun, when we're no longer making progress, when I'm no longer excited about doing what I'm doing. I'll just leave the keys in the desk for someone else," Nirschel was quoted as saying.

Sally Lapides, a former university board member, said Nirschel's legacy would include having raised the university's standards.

"He took a school that was doing good work but not yet its best to a place where it was much more highly respected," she said.

The university received negative national publicity in 2007, when Ralph R. Papitto, the longtime chairman of the board of trustees, stepped down after admitting to using a racial slur to refer to blacks during a meeting.

Nirschel condemned the remark as inappropriate and derogatory, Papitto's name was removed from the law school, and new board members were added to make the group more diverse.

Nirschel was the eighth president at Roger Williams, which was named after Rhode Island's founder and is home to the state's only law school. The university has roughly 3,800 undergraduates.

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