Former British Prime Minister and the College of William and Mary’s first female Chancellor Margaret Thatcher passed away Monday, April 8 of a stroke.
Thatcher, who was 87, served as the College’s 21st Chancellor from 1993 to 2000. She also delivered the commencement address in 1997 and visited campus again in 2001 for the dedication of her portrait, which is displayed in the Blue Room of the Sir Christopher Wren Building.
“Margaret Thatcher was a great force in British and world politics,” College President Taylor Reveley said in a press release. “She was also a cherished member of the William & Mary family, serving splendidly and inimitably as our Chancellor for seven years. We will miss her enormously and deeply mourn her loss.”
Thatcher entered British politics in 1950 and was elected to Parliament in 1959. She became Prime Minister in 1979 and served until 1990. During her 11-year tenure, she pioneered the political philosophy “Thatcherism,” led Britain in the Falklands War against Argentina, and dealt with a wide range of international and domestic issues.
In her 1997 commencement speech, Thatcher expressed her enthusiasm for her role at the College.
“For me, my friends, it is an awesome honor to be asked to give this address…a joy because of the unbreakable bond, a William and Mary bond, with my country, and because this college cannot lose its habit of producing and attracting great leaders, whose faith in the rightness of their cause created America, changed the world, and brought new hope to people who had never known freedom and justice,” Thatcher said.
She also emphasized her support for the College’s Honor System.
“To you, values matter most, both here at the College of William and Mary and in life outside,” Thatcher said. “We need to be able to rely on the integrity of our predecessors. Values … bring order and peace to our lives, as the founding fathers knew well.”
Thatcher had been dealing with health issues for several years. The New York Times reported that instead of a state funeral, Thatcher will be honored in a ceremony in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, in accordance with her wishes. She will receive full military honors.