William and Mary Law School

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor '88 to Speak at Charter Day

  • Charter Day speaker
    Charter Day speaker
    Congressman Eric Cantor '88, the first U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader from William & Mary, will speak at the College's 2011 Charter Day Ceremony.
    Courtesy photo

Congressman Eric Cantor, J.D. '88, the first U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader from William & Mary, will speak at the College's 2011 Charter Day Ceremony. Longtime newspaper editor J. Edward Grimsley '51 and Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr., William & Mary emeritus professor of history, will be honored as well at the event on Feb.4, 2011. The event marks the 318th anniversary of the awarding of the Royal Charter from King William III and Queen Mary II of England establishing the College. Tickets are not required for the ceremony, which will be held at 4 p.m. at William & Mary Hall.

Cantor, who in November was elected by his peers to the second-highest-ranking position in the House, will receive an honorary degree of doctor of laws . Grimsley, former editorial page editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and former rector of the College, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. Tate, one of the foremost historians of the College and former editor of the William & Mary Quarterly and director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters.

 "On William & Mary's birthday, we're delighted to welcome back to campus one of Congress's most important members - who also happens to be one of our own - to help celebrate," President Taylor Reveley said.

He added, "We look forward to honoring the Majority Leader along with two leading members of the William & Mary family. Ed Grimsley, a devoted alumnus, former rector of the Board of Visitors and respected newspaper editor, and Thad Tate, one of our most distinguished scholars of history."

Rep. Eric Cantor

Cantor, who represents Virginia's 7th district, first won election to Congress in 2000.  In 2008, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Republican Whip and most recently as Majority Leader. In 2010, Cantor joined Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Paul Ryan to co-author the N.Y. Times best-selling book, "Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders."

Cantor also makes history as the first Jewish House Majority Leader and the first from Virginia to hold the leadership post. The position was created in 1899 and is elected by the majority party's membership prior to the launch of a new Congress. The responsibilities include scheduling legislation for floor consideration and the planning of daily, weekly and annual legislative agendas.

Before going to Congress, Cantor served nine years in the House of Delegates representing the 73rd District in parts of Henrico and Richmond.

Cantor, a lifelong resident of the Richmond area, received his bachelor's degree from George Washington University in 1985. After graduating from William & Mary Law School in 1988, he also earned a master's degree from Columbia University in 1989.

Cantor joins a long list of William & Mary political leaders dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.  U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler graduated from William & Mary.  George Washington received his surveyor's certificate from the College and later served as its first American chancellor.  Also among our august alumni are four U.S. Supreme Court Justices, including the great Chief Justice John Marshall, and at least a dozen U.S. Cabinet members -- from the nation's first Attorney General, Edmund Jennings Randolph (who later served as President Washington's second Secretary of State), to current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates '65. William & Mary's political legacy counts as well more than 30 governors, including more than 20 from Virginia, and more than 40 members of the U.S. Congress, including more than a dozen from Virginia and two Speakers of the House.

J. Edward Grimsley

Grimsley spent more than more than four decades at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, serving as a reporter, columnist, editorial page editor and chairman of the editorial board.

After graduating from William & Mary in 1951 with a degree in government, Grimsley spent a year as a reporter for United Press International. He returned to his alma mater briefly from 1952 to 1953 to serve as director of press relations. Grimsley joined the Times-Dispatch in 1953 as a reporter and covered state and local politics. For many years at the paper, he wrote the satirical column "Metronome." In 1967, a collection of columns was published in "Coming Through Awry."  In 1998, another collection was published in "First, Let's Kill all the Humorists."

Grimsley won numerous awards from the Virginia Press Association and was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Nominating Jury. He served as editorial page editor of the Times-Dispatch from 1970 to 1992 and was chairman of the editorial board from 1992 until he retired in 1995. He has served on the Board of the Virginia Museum of Natural History and was a member of the Governor Jim Gilmore's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.

Grimsley has also been a generous supporter of his alma mater. Earlier this year, the J. Edward Grimsley Fellowship in Journalism was created. This spring, a student taking part in an unpaid internship in journalism will receive the fellowship.

Grimsley served from 1990 to 2001 on the Board of Visitors, including the final two years as rector. He also served as vice rector and secretary of the Board. Grimsley is a past president of the William & Mary Alumni Association and served on its Board of Directors. In 2002, Grimsley received the Alumni Medallion, one of the association's highest honors.

Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr.

Tate joined the William & Mary faculty in 1961 as a history professor and book review editor for the William & Mary Quarterly. From 1966 to 1972, he served as editor of the Quarterly. From 1972 to 1989, Tate served as director of the Institute of Early American History and Culture (Omohundro was added to the institute's name in 1996 in recognition of an endowment bequest pledged by Mr. and Mrs. Malvern H. Omohundro, Jr.). From 1988 to1992, he was director of the Commonwealth Center for the Study of American Culture. Tate retired from William & Mary in 1992 as the Forest Murden Professor of Humanities.

Before coming to the College, Tate was a historian at the Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown and at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, and a research associate and assistant director of research at Colonial Williamsburg. While at the foundation, he served as historical advisor for Colonial Williamsburg's signature film "Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot."

Tate published numerous papers and authored or served as editor of countless publications. In 1993, the year of the College's tercentenary, Tate was co-author and editor of the magisterial The College of William and Mary: A History.

In 1986, Tate received the Thomas Jefferson Award, one of the College's highest honors. Other professional honors include serving as a fellow of both the American Council of Learned Societies (1970-71) and at the National Endowment for the Humanities (1982-83).

Tate earned a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He earned his doctorate in history from Brown University in 1960.?