George R. Healy was a faculty member at the university serving as: Professor of History, 1971-1986; Vice President for Academic Affairs, 1971-1983; Provost, 1979-1986; Acting President, 1985; Professor of History, Emeritus, 1986-; and Acting Director of the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1990-1992. Healy received the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1987.
Healy assumed the role of acting president after Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. resigned to assume leadership of Winterthur Museum and Garden in Wilmington, Delaware on January 9, 1985, and before Paul Verkuil assumed the presidency on June 30, 1985.
Healy graduated from Oberlin College in 1948, later attending the University of Minnesota for his MA (1951) and Ph.D. (1955). As a historian, Healy specialized in the intellectual history of 18th-century France and translated Montesquieu's Persian Letters. Prior to his career at William & Mary, Healy taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bates College, where he also served as dean of faculty and provost.
Healy was the university's first provost, replacing retiring Academic Vice President Melville Jones in 1971. As provost, Healy was noted for strong fiscal stewardship during a time of notable budget constraints as well as for his unusually eloquent memoranda. In the fall of 1985, Healy oversaw the brief cancellation of classes and postponement of Parents' Weekend in preparation for Hurricane Gloria.