RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The College of William and Mary has named former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates as its next chancellor.
College officials said Tuesday that Gates will become the Williamsburg college's 24th chancellor in February, replacing retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the honorary post when her seven-year term ends.
"William and Mary Instills in its students a sense of duty to community and country," Gates said in a statement. "I look forward to doing all that I can to continue and build on these traditions."
Gates, 67, received his undergraduate degree in history from William and Mary in 1965. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966, eventually becoming its director from 1991-93. He took office as defense secretary in 2006 under President George W. Bush, continued under President Barack Obama, and retired from the job in June.
Gates also served as president of Texas A&M University from 2002-06.
"I'm confident that Bob will bring to this new role the same sense of duty and personal integrity that I and other Presidents valued during his distinguished career in government," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
Since the college's founding in 1693 by a charter from King William III and Queen Mary II, the chancellor served as the college's advocate to the British crown. Initially the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London served as chancellor while a colonial president oversaw the college's operations.
After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was William and Mary's first American chancellor.
In modern times, the chancellor participates in major campus events and interacts with students and other members of the William and Mary community.
Others who have served as William and Mary's chancellor include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.