- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

WILLIAMSBURG (AP) — Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor traded judge’s robes for an academic gown yesterday as she was installed in the honorary post of chancellor of the College of William & Mary.

Gene R. Nichol also was inaugurated as the school’s 26th president during an outdoor ceremony attended by about 4,500 people.

“It takes more than a stretch of our imaginations to imagine that the nation’s second-oldest institution of higher learning, here in the great state of Virginia, has decided to accept as its chancellor a cowgirl from Arizona,” said Mrs. O’Connor, 76, who grew up on a cattle ranch.

After all, she said, most of the 22 previous chancellors were Anglican bishops.

She also noted that at the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson, William & Mary’s most famous alumnus, American judges traditionally wear plain black robes.

“I don’t know what he would have thought of the chancellor’s robe,” joked Mrs. O’Connor, who wore a robe of green and gold, the school’s colors.

Mrs. O’Connor also stressed the importance of civic education and public service and urged students to become “bridge builders.”

“Our nation needs you,” she said.

Mrs. O’Connor succeeds former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who was appointed in 2000 to replace former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

William & Mary was chartered in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II.

The chancellor serves as an adviser to the president and an advocate for the school and meets occasionally with students and faculty.

Until 1776, the chancellor was an English subject who served as the college’s advocate to the crown. George Washington was William & Mary’s first chancellor after the American Revolution.

Mrs. O’Connor is the second Supreme Court justice to hold the post. The late Chief Justice Warren Burger was chancellor from 1986 to 1993.

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