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Timothy J. Sullivan
Born April 15, 1944(1944-04-15) (age 78)
Ravenna, Ohio, United States
Alma mater The College of William & Mary (B.A. 1966)
Harvard School of Law (J.D. 1969)
Predecessor Paul R. Verkuil
Successor Gene Nichol
Spouse(s) Anne Klare Sullivan

Timothy Jackson Sullivan (born April 15, 1944)[1] was the twenty-fifth president of The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States.

College years

Sullivan’s life has long been intimately linked with William & Mary. He first came to the college as a freshman from Ohio in 1962. He left four years later with a bachelor’s degree in government, a Phi Beta Kappa key, and an election to a second academic honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa. His wife, Anne Doubet Klare, was a fellow member of the class of 1966. As were many William & Mary alumni, they were married in the chapel of the Sir Christopher Wren Building.

Harvard Law School and Vietnam

After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School in 1969, Sullivan went on to serve in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Vietnam, where he received the Army Commendation Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster and Bronze Star. Sullivan came back to William & Mary in 1972 as an assistant professor at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He specialized in teaching contract law and became an associate law professor in 1974, and full professor and associate dean in 1977.

U.S. Senator advisor

Sullivan became closely associated with the Dean of the Law School, William Spong, a highly–respected former U.S. Senator from Virginia. In 1972, Spong was defeated by a well–funded Republican candidate after word leaked out that Spong supported the Democratic nominee and peace candidate, George McGovern, for president rather than the Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon had carried Virginia in every election in which he was on the ballot. Spong then became dean of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law and presided over its major expansion.

Return to William & Mary Law School

In 1981 and 1982, Sullivan was a visiting law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. He returned to Marshall-Wythe in 1984 as the John Stewart Bryan Professor of Jurisprudence, after serving for nearly three years as executive assistant for policy for then-Governor Charles S. Robb. Observers noted that Robb, whose subsequent record in the U.S. Senate few viewed as strong, never looked better or achieved more support for his decisions than he did when Sullivan was his principal advisor. Sullivan became dean of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law in July 1985. He was elected president of the College on April 9, 1992 by the Board of Visitors and was sworn in as president on June 1, just eight months before the school's 300th anniversary celebration.

President of William & Mary

Sullivan's long administration at William & Mary was characterized by a renewed emphasis on undergraduate education, by strong support among students, faculty, and alumni, and by well-thought-out but often bold moves. At the request of other presidents of colleges and universities financially supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Sullivan became the spokesman for increases in educational funding and for educational excellence. During the four years of confrontations between Governor Jim Gilmore and politicians of both parties, Sullivan was one of the most outspoken critics of the tax-cutting Gilmore's approach to education. In that period of budget shortfalls, Sullivan was noted on his campus for quietly transferring money from other college needs to assure that class size and a high quality of undergraduate education continued without interruption at William & Mary.

Accolades and other appointments

Sullivan was given the Freedom of the Drapers’ Company in London in November 1992 and was installed as a member of the Livery in July 2003; at the same time, he was made a Freeman of the City of London. In April 1993 he received an honorary LLD from the University of Aberdeen and has been similarly honored by Old Dominion University (2005), Centre College (2007) and Christopher Newport University (2008). He received the Outstanding Virginian Award from the Virginia 4-H Foundation in 1999. Active in public service, possessed of a family background in public affairs in Ohio, Sullivan has been executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Virginia’s Future, counsel for the Commission on the Future of the Virginia Judicial System, a member of the Virginia Board of Education and the Governor’s Task Force on Substance Abuse and Sexual Assault on Campus. In addition, he was appointed by Governor L. Douglas Wilder as chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Athletics.

Sullivan is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the Ohio State Bar and a Fellow of the Virginia Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. He served as Chair of the Governing Board of the Virginia Council of University Presidents. He currently serves on the Boards of The mariners Museum and of Corinthian Colleges Inc. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of The National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C.


In 2004 he announced his retirement. On July 1, 2005, he was succeeded by Gene Nichol, former dean of the law school at the University of North Carolina, and a former member of Sullivan's faculty at William & Mary's law school. On November 1, 2006, Sullivan accepted the position of president and CEO of the historic Mariners' Museum, in Newport News, Virginia. He resigned from the position in 2009.


  1. Marquis Who's Who on the Web
Academic offices
Preceded by
William B. Spong, Jr.
Dean of the College of William & Mary Law School
1985 – 1992
Succeeded by
Thomas G. Krattenmaker

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