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Sandra Day O’Connor Appointed William and Mary Chancellor


     Sandra Day O’Connor, who announced her retirement as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, has been named twenty-third Chancellor of the College of William and Mary. Justice O’Connor will succeed Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, former United States Secretary of State, who was appointed in 2000. The appointment is effective immediately.

      “I am delighted to serve as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, and look forward to being an active member of the campus community. Following such former Chancellors as Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher and my friend Warren Burger is truly an honor that I will cherish,” said O’Connor.

      The post of Chancellor has been an important one since the college was chartered in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II of Great Britain. Until 1776, the Chancellor was an English subject — usually the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London — who served as the college’s advocate to the crown, while a colonial president oversaw the day-to-day activities of the Williamsburg campus. Following the Revolutionary War, George Washington was appointed as the first American chancellor; later President John Tyler held the post.

      “Through her remarkable combination of wisdom, courage, judgment, and skill, Justice O’Connor has become one of the most influential and effective jurists in American history,” said President Gene R. Nichol. “I am thrilled that she is willing to share her ability and rich experience with William and Mary students. As a former constitutional lawyer, I am also honored to welcome one of my heroes to the college community.”

      The first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, on March 26, 1930. She earned a B.A. in economics (magna cum laude) from Stanford University, and went on to receive an LL. B. from Stanford Law School, where she graduated third in her class. Her classmate, the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, graduated first in the class.

      President Ronald Reagan nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat September 25, 1981. She is married to John Jay O’Connor III, and the couple has three sons: Scott, Brian and Jay.

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