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The College of William & Mary is governed by several bodies of law and rules.

The Royal Charter

On February 8, 1693, King William III and Queen Mary II granted a charter to establish The College of William and Mary in Virginia. The charter was brought back from England by the College's first president, the Reverend James Blair. While rarely cited today, it is still a governing document for the College.

The Code of Virginia

The Code of Virginia is the statutory law of Virginia, and consists of the codified legislation of the Virginia General Assembly. The laws published in the Code of Virginia are supreme over regulations and policies established by state agencies and instrumentalities, including the College. In turn, the Code's provisions must comply and be consistent with the Virginia Constitution, as well as the Constitution of the United States and federal law generally, and thus its provisions are subject to invalidation by Virginia state or U.S. federal courts upon a finding that they are unconstitutional or preempted by federal legislation.

Code of Virginia Searchable Data from the Virginia General Assembly. William & Mary is governed by Title 23, Chapter 5.

The Code of Virginia establishes a 17-member Board of Visitors to govern the university. The Governor of Virginia appoints individuals to serve up to two four-year terms in the service of the College.

Bylaws of the Board of Visitors

Restructuring Act and Management Agreement

On July 1, 2005, Virginia’s public system of higher education formally entered the new era created by the Restructuring Act, which grants all public colleges and universities including the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) greater financial and administrative autonomy in exchange for their commitment to meet statewide goals.

The 2005 Management Agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the College of William & Mary outlines the relationship between the two entities. It expanded authority to the Board of Visitors in several key areas, including capital projects, leasing of property, information technology, procurement of goods and services, human resources and financial management. The Management Agreement and its amendments are passed by the General Assembly; as a legislative act, the Management Agreement is of equal dignity with the Code of Virginia and properly exempt the College from otherwise applicable statutory requirements.