WILLIAMSBURG -- Former U.S. Sen. William B. Spong Jr. is the only person being considered by the College of William and Mary Board of Visitors to be the next dean of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, the Times-Dispatch learned Monday.

If the Portsmouth lawyer and William and Mary President Dr. Thomas A. Graves Jr. are able to reach agreements on his administrative operation in the post, it is expected that the board will officially name Spong dean at its Nov. 21-22 meeting here.

The William and Mary Board of Visitors held a special meeting Monday morning in the Richmond law office of its rector; R. Harvey Chappell Jr. Initially, the board was to consider a request by the law school search committee that the committee be allowed to bring to the board only one name -- that of Spong -- instead of the three the board had originally requested.

Contacted Monday, Chappell said he would have "no comment" on the board's meeting, which he said "was held in executive session." Spong could not be reached in Portsmouth.

Graves said in Williamsburg Monday night that the matter of the new law school dean "still is in the hands of the search committee" and he would have "no comment to make until the board takes final action on the matter."'

As early as May 9, law school faculty members were suggesting Spong the post as a man of national and statewide prestige and legal reputation who would serve the law school well.

That was only seven days after Prof. James P. Whyte Jr. announced his resignation as dean to return to full-time teaching. Prof. Emeric Fischer is acting law school dean

From the outset of the search, law school faculty members have been conducting an earnest inquiry with Spong as to his interest in the law school deanship. He is currently the Cutler lecturer in law, a part-time appointment he assumed in September 1974.

Initially, W&M faculty members faced several hurdles in getting Spong interested in William and Mary. Last January, he returned to the Portsmouth law firm that he founded, and he recently purchased an old home in the city's downtown area and has made extensive renovations to it.

Also, Spong is president-elect of the Virginia Bar Association and is scheduled to assume the presidency in January. He was president-elect in 1966 and resigned the post when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

It is understood now that the major hurdles in the appointment lie in the agreements that will have to be worked out with college officials. Those talks involved questions of law school autonomy and definite lines of authority which Spong as dean would have regarding promotions and faculty appointments within the law school.

A life long Democrat, Spong won the U.S. Senate seat in 1966 but was defeated in his 1972 reelection bid.

He is a graduate of the University of Virginia law school and studied international law at the University of Edinburgh and Cambridge University.

Spong served in the state Senate from 1958-66; earlier he served a term in the House of Delegates.


Wilford Kale

Document Type

News Article

Publication Information

Richmond Times-Dispatch at A-1, A-5 (November 4, 1975)