Skip to main content
Main Content
Seater portrait of Chandler wearing black regalia

William & Mary President: Alvin Duke Chandler
Term Served: October 9, 1951 - May 1960
Preceded by: John Edwin Pomfret 1943 - 1951 / Interim President James W. Miller 1951
Succeeded by: Davis Young Paschall 1960 - 1971

Alvin Duke Chandler was the twenty-first president of William & Mary. Following the resignation of John Pomfret, he served from October 9, 1951 until May of 1960, when he became Chancellor of the William & Mary system. The system included the original William & Mary campus in Williamsburg, what is now Old Dominion University in Norfolk, the current campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, as well as Christopher Newport College and Richard Bland College. The General Assembly disbanded the system in 1962, but Chandler stayed on as William & Mary Chancellor, then Honorary Chancellor until 1974. His father, Julian A.C. Chandler, was also president of William & Mary.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Chandler attended William & Mary in 1918, but shortly left for the Naval Academy. He graduated in 1923 and spent the next 28 years in active service. In the 1930s, he alternated between postings at sea and teaching at the Naval Academy, authoring several textbooks. During World War II, he served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and as a staff member of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet in the South Pacific. Chandler was a commander of five destroyer groups and participated in campaigns in Africa, Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He earned a number of honors for his naval service, including the Legion of Merit Gold Star. After the war, Chandler assumed command of the U.S.S. Des Moines in 1948, attended the Imperial Defense College in London, England in 1950, and returned to the office of Chief of Naval Operations as Director of the Logistics Plans Division. He retired from the Navy as a Vice-Admiral in November 1951 to assume the presidency at William & Mary.

A member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity and the Rotary Club, Chandler was active in a variety of organizations, including the Jamestown Foundation and the Jamestown Corporation, the Peninsula Bank and Trust Company, the Advisory Council of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, and the John Marshall Bicentennial Commission. He also held honorary law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, and William & Mary.

He died on May 26, 1987, in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the age of 84.

Material in SCRC

  • Alvin Duke Chandler, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.


Want to find out more?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for other resources to help you find materials of interest.

Questions? Have ideas or updates for articles you'd like to see? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at or 757-221-3090.

A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.