The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was founded by letters of patent issued by co-regent English Monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II, after whom the school was also named. It is the second-oldest higher education institution in the US, and one of the nine Colonial Colleges that were founded before the American Revolution. It was founded as a strictly Anglican institution. Only members of Church of England were allowed to enroll as students, and professors were required to declare their faithfulness to the Thirty-Nine Articles. James Blair was appointed to be the first president. In its early years, the university was financed by tobacco taxes and export duties on furs and animal skins.
With the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the College of William and Mary transitioned from strict Anglican faith to allow freedom of religion, with the help of its alumni, future US Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. At that time, the Divinity School (preparation for Anglican ordination) and the Indian School (for Native Americans) were abolished, and the elective system of study and honor system were established. Later, during the Civil War, the college was closed and its buildings were used as barracks and hospitals. Damaged considerably during the war, the college was reopened in 1869. It was gradually converted to a public research university, supported by public funding starting in the 1880s. It had incorporated more campus territory, and further increased its enrollment as it started to admit women in 1912.
The College of William and Mary is a public, research-intensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, governed by a Board of 17 Visitors, who are appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The college offers an array of undergraduate and graduate programs and degrees. It is comprised of one faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and four schools. Namely, these are the Mason School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Law, and the School of Marine Sciences. The Faculty of Arts and Science is the largest academic unit and the core of William and Mary's liberal arts education, consisting of 10 graduate programs and 34 undergraduate departments and interdisciplinary programs.
The College of William and Mary is one of the most renowned university in the US, and one of the top universities in the world. According to US News and World Report, it is ranked top 1 public university at undergraduate teaching and ranked 6th best public university. In the 2015 ranking by Forbes, the College of William and Mary was ranked the 6th best public university. Globally, Quacquarelli Symonds ranked the College of William and Mary in the range between 551st and 600th place, and Times Higher Education ranked in the range between 201st and 250th place. The College of William and Mary also has many top graduate programs. It ranks third in U.S. colonial history, and its law school was ranked 29th by US News and Report. Its business school, computer science program, and education program all rank in the top 30 in the country. The College of William and Mary is very selective, with an acceptance rate of 31.4%.
The College of William and Mary, through the course of its long and rich history, has produced many notable and renowned alumni. It is most known for being the alma mater of two Founding Fathers of the United States, namely Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, both of whom helped establish the university's profound traditions in liberal arts and law. The 10th U.S. President, John Tyler, also attended William & Mary. It has also produced dozens of U.S. Cabinet members, Senators, Supreme Court Judges, U.S. foreign ambassadors, and Governors of Virginia. It also has sent hundreds of athletes to major professional sports leagues in the U.S. and abroad. Many great scientists, writers, and artists have also called William & Mary their home.