Gene R. Nichol

Print This Page (PDF) Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law


  • J.D. (Order of the Coif), University of Texas at Austin (1976)

Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor at the University of North Carolina. He was director of the UNC Poverty Center (2008-2015) until it was closed by the Board of Governors for publishing articles critical of the governor and General Assembly. Since 2015, his research has been supported by the N.C. Poverty Research Fund. Nichol was president of the College of William & Mary (2005-2008), law dean at the University of Colorado (1988-1995), and dean at UNC from 1999-2005.

Nichol is author of THE FACES OF POVERTY IN NORTH CAROLINA: Stories From Our Invisible Citizens (UNC Press, 2018); FEDERAL COURTS (West, 2015, with Marshall & Wells); and (co-author) WHERE WE STAND: Voices of Southern Dissent (NewSouth, 2004). He’s published articles in the Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Duke, California, and Virginia law reviews. He has been a political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and hosted a public affairs television show, Culture Wars, for KBDI in Denver. He’s been an columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer for fifteen years and writes regularly for the Charlotte Observer, Durham Herald-Sun and the Progressive Populist. He has also written for The Nation and the Washington Post. He is executive producer of the documentary, “A Generation of Change: Bill Friday, Terry Sanford and North Carolina” (UNC-TV, 2016).

In 2003, Nichol received the ABA's Edward Finch Award for delivering the nation's best Law Day address. In 2004, he was named Carolina’s pro bono professor of the year. The next year, he was inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor; and Equal Justice Works named him Pro Bono Dean of the year. In 2008, he received Oklahoma State University's Distinguished Alumnus Award; the "Courage to do Justice Award" from the National Employment Lawyers Association; and the Thomas Jefferson Award for defense of religious liberty from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In 2013, the NC Council of Churches gave Nichol its Faith Active in Public Life Award; the NC-ACLU named him its W.W. Finlator Award winner; and UNC gave him its Thomas Jefferson Award – the university’s highest faculty honor. In 2014, he received the McCall Teaching Award from the UNC Law School and the University of Colorado’s Joanne Arnold award for courage in defense of civil liberty. In 2018, Nichol was invited by the faculty of the University of Michigan to give the 29th annual Davis, Markert, Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture. He received the Van Hecke award for excellence in scholarship in 2019. 

Nichol attended Oklahoma State University, receiving a degree in philosophy and playing varsity football. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Texas, graduating Order of the Coif (1973).


Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Selected Publications

Show All Publications

  • Losing Carolina, 25 SOUTHERN CULTURES 106 (Spring 2019). [Document Link]
  • Lessons on Political Speech, Academic Freedom, and University Governance from the New North Carolina, 16 FIRST AMEND. L. REV. 39 (2018). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • CASES AND MATERIALS ON FEDERAL COURTS (W. Marshall, G. Nichol & M. Wells) (3rd ed. 2015). [KF8718 .W45 2015 c.2]
  • Race, Poverty and "Current Conditions", 49 WAKE FOREST L. REV. 791 (2014). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Rankings, Economic Challenge, and the Future of Legal Education, 61 J. LEGAL EDUC. 345 (2012). [Westlaw, SSRN, Hein, BEPress, Document Link (PDF)]
  • Not a Winn-Win: The Establishment Clause and Taxpayer Standing, 2011 SUP. CT. REV. 215 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein]
  • Wages, Work, Privilege, and Legal Education 5 HARV. L. & POL'Y REV. 1 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, BEPress, Document Link (PDF)]
  • Ripeness and the Constitution, 54 U. CHI. L. REV. 153 (1987). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein, BEPress]
  • Rethinking Standing, 72 CAL. L. REV. 68 (1984) (reprinted in LOUIS FISHER, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (1990) and THOMAS O. SARGENTICH, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW ANTHOLOGY (1994)). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein, BEPress]
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106 | Accessibility

If you are seeing this, you are either using a non-graphical browser or Netscape 4.x (4.7, 4.8, etc.) and this page appears very plain. If you are using a 4.x version of Netscape, this site is fully functional but lacks styles and optimizations available in other browsers. For full functionality, please upgrade your browser to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Firefox.