skip to main content
Menu

William Lyne Wilson

President, Washington and Lee University, 1897-1900

Born in Charles Town, Va. (now West Virginia), William Lyne Wilson graduated from Columbian College in 1860 and studied at the University of Virginia. During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate Army as a private in the 12th Virginia Cavalry. For several years, he taught school at Columbian College. He graduated from law school and was admitted to the bar in 1869, practicing in Charles Town.

He became president of West Virginia University in 1882. He also was active in politics, serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1883 to 1895. After leaving Congress, Wilson was appointed Postmaster General in the cabinet of President Grover Cleveland and served from 1895 to 1897.

As president of Washington and Lee, he reintroduced the weekly assembly, which he or members of the faculty, clergy or invited guests led. The educational sessions often included international politics and the economy. Wilson also raised money for the institution, including $50,000 for a Law School building as a memorial to John Randolph Tucker, the first dean of the W&L Law School. He also established a chair of economics. Near the end of his term, Wilson served as president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The W&L football stadium, Wilson Field, is named for him.

Wilson died in office on Oct. 17, 1900.