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Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman nominated to serve on the US Supreme Court, a position she held from 1981 until 2006. In 2005, she became the chancellor of William & Mary.

Justice O'Connor earned a B.A. in economics (magna cum laude) from Stanford University and a LL.B. from Stanford Law School. She was an editor of the law review and graduated third in her law class-two spots behind her friend and future colleague, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. President Reagan nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat September 25, 1981. Warren E. Burger, another future chancellor at William & Mary, was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when she joined the court.

Justice O'Connor was selected on October 4, 2005 to succeed the Honorable Henry A. Kissinger as Chancellor of William & Mary. She was the first American woman to serve as chancellor of the university.

The investiture ceremony for Justice O'Connor took place on April 7, 2006, the same day as the inauguration of Gene R. Nichol as President of William & Mary (Chancellor, 2005-20006, Acc. 2007.047, Box 3, Office of the President. Gene R. Nichol Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary). She was an important presence on the William & Mary campus, addressing prospective students, visiting classes, meeting with law and undergraduate students and with faculty and staff, and keynoting academic conferences sponsored by the College's Philosophy Department and its Law School. She also gave the Commencement address at the Law School in 2006 and 2010. Her term as chancellor officially concluded in 2012.

Preceded by

College of William & Mary Chancellor

Succeeded by

Henry A. Kissinger 2000-2005

Sandra Day O'Connor 2005-2012

Robert M. Gates 2012-Present

Material in the Special Collections Research Center

  • University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • University Archives Faculty-Alumni File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.



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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.