The William & Mary Alumni Association was founded on July 4, 1842, and is the sixth-oldest alumni organization in the country. All graduates and former students of the William & Mary are considered members of the Alumni Association. The organization's offices are in the Alumni House.
History of the Alumni Association
The generally accepted date for the founding of the William & Mary Alumni Association is July 4, 1842. An alumni organization of some sort may have been in existence before this time. However, this is the date that the Honorable Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, a judge and professor of national and municipal law and of the science of government at the College delivered the first Alumni Day oration.
"Business was transacted at this meeting in 1842 and from the minutes we have this resolution:
Resolved, that all members of this Society, as often as their convenience and avocations will admit, will attend the meetings on the 4th of July in each year; and that every son of William & Mary, qualified to be a member of this Society, is earnestly invited to do the same. -- Thos. R. Dew, President
This resolution plus a notation concerning those eligible for membership ("all graduates of William & Mary College, and all persons who were students thereof before the year 1836, though not graduates, are entitled to be admitted as members of the Society of the Alumni.")
In his address, Judge Tucker does refer to what he claims a "remarkable" fact that "while Societies of Alumni have sprung up at almost every other Academic Institution, the establishment of such an Association at William & Mary should have been postponed to this late day."
It is certain that the famed Thomas Roderick Dew, a graduate of the College in the class of 1820, and President of the College from 1836 to 1846, was the first President of the Society. Just when he was elected is not known but he was President on the 4th of July, 1842, and served until his death in Paris, in 1846.
The Association was uniquely fortunate in having as its spokesman in its early days two such distinguished men as Dew and Tucker, both of whom had been recognized among the most influential Virginians of their time and both of whom were advisors to John Tyler, President of the United States.
Beyond that, historical records emphasize the importance of these two men to the College for it was Dew who became President of William & Mary at the age of thirty-four and entered upon his duties "with deep and painful solicitude sustained alone by the consciousness that I shall yield to none who have gone before me in this office in zeal, in fidelity and a love of our venerated Alma Mater." The College had almost closed due to the small number of students but during his presidency the attendance at the College was probably greater than at any time from its foundation to 1889 and in 1839 more degrees were awarded to graduates than at any time before 1920. It is almost certain that through Dew's influence and insistence the alumni were finally organized.
Dew was succeeded as president of the Association by his successor as president of the College, Robert Saunders, 1823 A.B., who served for the session 1846-47. From 1842 until the reopening of the College in 1888 the history of the Alumni Association is fragmentary in the records of the College. It is known that the Honorable Benjamin Watkins Leigh, 1802 A.B., was unanimously elected to deliver the oration on the 4th of July, 1843 and that James Lyons, Esq. (1816-18), was appointed alternate but for some reason William Wood Crump, who received his law degree in 1839 and in later years was Rector of the Board of Visitors and a bondsman for Jefferson Davis, made the address. There is no record of succeeding presidents of the Association before Robert Saunders until 1888.
While the College has acquired a great deal of historical information for this period very little applies to the Alumni Association which may be due to the minimum of its activities. In 1847 William H. Macfarland, (1815-16), was the orator and it is known that the oration on July 4, 1855 was given by Robert Tyler, 1835 A.B., 1837 L.B., a son of President John Tyler, and that the following year it was delivered by Tiberius Gracchus Jones, 1845 A.B., and that in 1859, less than three years before he died, President John Tyler, himself, who graduated in 1807, delivered the address and at the same time was appointed Chancellor of the College, the first to be so named since the death of the first American Chancellor, George Washington. Available records indicate that John Tyler was the last to deliver the oration until 1870 when Robert L. Montague, 1842 LB., 1875 D.D., spoke, In 1875 the Rev. Alfred Magill Randolph, 1855 A.B., was the orator and at the same time received an honorary degree of doctor of divinity.
If the Society lapsed at the beginning of the" Civil War, "it was revived again in the seventies and since the College reopened in 1888 has been in continuous existence and while it was not until the late Henry Denison Cole, 1874, became secretary that any minutes of the annual meetings were kept; the College catalogue nevertheless listed the succeeding presidents and other officers of the Society.
As Thomas Roderick Dew doubtless gave impetus to the original organization so another great president, Julian Alvin Carroll Chandler, 1891 A.B., 1892 A.M., looked to the alumni for greater organization and support and in 1923 what was known as the Society of Alumni became a corporation under the laws of Virginia and since has been known as "The Alumni Association of the College of William & Mary in Virginia."
The first president of the corporation was Channing Moore Hall, 1908 A.B., and William Thomas Hodges, 1902 A.B., then professor of education and later dean of men, was elected secretary.
In 1929 George Willis Guy, 1921 A.B., became the first full-time executive secretary of the Alumni Association with an Alumni office, independent of any other department in the College, set up in the Brafferton. Mr. Guy, with the assistance of Dr. J.A.C. Chandler, Dr. Hodges and others, set out to organize alumni clubs in Virginia and elsewhere where there were a sufficient number of alumni to warrant them.
In the fall of 1932 Charles Albert Taylor, Jr., 1909 A.B., came to the campus as secretary and the office was transferred to the Brafferton Kitchen, rebuilt at the time the Brafferton was restored.
During the little more than four years of Mr. Taylor's service in the Alumni Office, though impeded by a lack of sufficient funds, much was accomplished in organization and enlargement of alumni activities. Mr. Taylor's first work was the establishment of the Alumni Gazette in June, 1933, a four-page newspaper published ten times during the year, which was mailed to all members of the Association. In 1934 the Association announced an award for loyalty and service in the form of a bronze medallion.
In 1937 Charles P. McCurdy was appointed Executive Secretary of the Alumni Association. With the appointment of Mr. McCurdy came increased support from the Administration of the College providing the Alumni office with the funds necessary to establish an adequate records system, including a master card and cross reference index on alumni going back to 1870. In October, 1938, the Alumni Gazette appeared for the first time as a magazine and was published quarterly. Under the editorship of Mr. McCurdy the Alumni Gazette attained national prominence, being recognized as one of the nation's outstanding alumni publications.
At the annual meeting of alumni on June 6, 1942, the Association voted to again adopt the name "Society of the Alumni of the College of William & Mary in Virginia."
In 1950 the Board of Directors of the Society of the Alumni established The William & Mary Fund to replace the old dues and life membership system that had been used until this date to support the Society's activities. In 1968 designated giving categories were established to recognize above average contributions to the annual campaign.
In 1971 the Board of Visitors approved the use of the former Bright House as the Alumni House. At the time the Bright House was in disrepair and no longer used for faculty and staff apartments. Early uses for the Bright House included stints as an infirmary and a dormitory for returning WWII vets. It was owned by Kappa Alpha fraternity until 1943 when the College bought it. In 1994 the Alumni Society embarked on a $3.6 million Campaign for the Alumni Center seeking donations from alumni and friends. In 1995 groundbreaking was held for the renovation and expansion of the Alumni House which would double the size of the facility for its expanding alumni population. In 1997 the Society officially dedicated the completed 19,000 sq-ft alumni center and grounds. In 2012, the Alumni Association explored another expansion for its alumni population, topping now nearly 100,000 active alumni.
In 2014, another historic Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Alumni Association and William & Mary whereby they entered into a joint venture granting operational control of the staff and functions to University Advancement. Operations are then conducted under the advice, counsel and direction of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for all traditional alumni association operations. The Executive Director reports to both the Board of Directors and the Vice President for University Advancement.
In 2017 enough funds were raised, thanks to a generous lead donor, to begin a 35,000 sq-ft expansion of the Alumni House; ground breaking for this expansion was held in April 2018 with a scheduled completion of April, 2020.
Thomas Roderick Dew, 1820 1842-1846
Robert Saunders Jr., 1823 1846-1847
William Booth Taliaferro, 1841 1888-1890
Beverly Bland Munford, 1875 1890-1892
Robert Morton Hughes, 1873 1892-1893
William W. Reynolds, 1861 1893-1894
John Allen Watts, 1877 1894-1895
William Gustavus Jones, 1876 1895-1897
Samuel Gordon Cumming, 1893 1897-1898
Joseph Wells Southall, 1859 1898-1900
Cary Breckinridge Wilmer, 1875 1900-1902
Julian Alvin Carroll Chandler, 1891 1902-1904
Percy Summerell Stephenson, 1890 1904-1905
James Bankhead Taylor Thornton, 1877 1905-1907
John Weymouth, 1894 1907-1908
William Churchill Lyons Taliaferro, 1892 1908-1910
James Southall Wilson, 1904 1910-1911
Oscar Lane Shewmake, 1903 1911-1912
Henry Jackson Davis, 1902 1912-1913
Joseph Virginius Bidgood, 1896 1913-1914
James Smith Barron, 1894 1914-1915
John Baynham Terrell, 1905 1915-1916
Henry Denison Cole, 1874 1916-1918
Oscar Lane Shewmake, 1903 1918-1919
Alvan Herbert Foreman, 1899 1919-1920
John Weymouth, 1894 1920-1921
James Edward Wilkins, 1899 1921-1922
Walter E. Vest, 1902 1922-1923
Channing Moore Hall, 1908 1923-1925
William Churchill Lyons Taliaferro, 1892 1925-1926
H. Lester Hooker, 1908 1926-1928
James Hurst, 1899 1928-1929
Robert Murphy Newton, 1916 1929-1930
Frank Armistead, 1897 1930-1932
Amos R. Koontz, 1910 1932-1934
Joseph E. Healy, 1910 1934-1937
Sidney Bartlett Hall, 1920 1937-1940
Bathurst Daingerfield Peachy, Jr., 1914 1940-1942
Walter Finnall Cross Ferguson, 1919 1942-1944
Wayne Carr Metcalf, 1913 1944-1947
Vernon M. Geddy, 1917 1947-1949
Carroll B. Quaintance, 1924 1949-1951
C. Malcolm Sullivan, 1942 1951-1952
W. Stirling King, 1926 1952-1953
William G. Thompson, Jr., 1928 1953-1955
W. Brooks George, 1932 1955-1956
Aubrey L. Mason, 1947 1956-1957
John R. L. Johnson, Jr., 1928 1957-1958
Henry I. Willett, 1925 1958-1960
Robert S. Hornsby, 1941 1960-1962
R. Harvey Chappell, Jr. 1948 1962-1964
George D. Sands, Jr., 1939 1964-1965
Harry D. Wilkins, 1924 1965-1966
Alphonse F. Chestnut, 1941 1966-1967
Dixon L. Foster, 1944 1967-1969
Pamela Pauly Chinnis, 1946 1969-1972
C. Randolph Davis, 1950 1972-1976
Jean Canoles Bruce, 1949 1976-1978
Harriet Nachman Storm, 1964 1978-1979
Denys Grant, 1958 1979-1980
John H. Garrett, Jr., 1940 1980-1982
Marvin F. West, 1952 1982-1983
Austin L. Roberts III, 1969 1983-1985
S. Warne Robinson, 1937 1985-1986
William A. Armbruster, 1957 1986-1987
J. Edward Grimsley, 1951 1987-1989
A. Marshall Acuff, Jr., 1962 1989-1991
John S. Entwisle, 1944 1991-1992
Joseph W. Montgomery, 1974 1992-1994
Rebecca Beach Smith, 1971 1994-1996
Alvin P. Anderson, 1970 1996-1997
Clyde E. Culp, 1965 1997-1999
Howard J. Busbee, 1965 1999-2001
Lynn Melzer Dillon, 1975 2001-2003
James E. Ukrop, 1960 2003-2004
Walter W. Stout III, 1965 2004-2006
Elizabeth A. Galloway, 1979 2007-2008
Betsy C. Anderson, 1970 2008-2009
Janet Rollins Atwater, 1984 2009-2011
Peter M. Nance, 1966 2011-2013
Barbara Cole Joynes, 1982 2013-2014
David N. Kelley, 1980 2014-2015
Cynthia Satterwhite Jarboe, 1977 2015-2017
Susan P. Manix, 1979 2017-2019
Executive Directors of the Association
First full-time Secretary appointed in 1919 - Formal records lost
William Thomas Hodges '02 1919 - Unknown
George Willis Guy, '21 1929 -1932 - First full-time Executive Secretary
Charles Albert Taylor, '09 1932-1937
Charles P. McCurdy Jr. '33, 1937-1952 - Alumni Secretary
F. James Barnes, II '27, 1952-1954 - Alumni Secretary & W&M Director of Public Information
James S. Kelly '51, 1954-1972 - Executive Secretary
Gordon C. Vliet '54, 1972-1982 - Executive Vice President
H. Westcott Cunningham '43, 1982-1987
W. Barry Adams 1987-2004
Karen Ryan Cottrell '66, Med. '69, Ed.D. 2005-2014
Marilyn Ward Midyette '75, 2014 - Executive Director
- Constituent and Affinity Groups
- The William & Mary Alumni Association
- Address of Hon. Robert L. Montague, of Virginia, July 4, 1870 oration before the Society of the Alumni (1871).