William E. Thro

University Counsel & Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies, Christopher Newport University

William E. Thro is University Counsel and Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Christopher Newport University and President-Elect of the Education Law Association. He is an accomplished education lawyer, constitutional scholar, and appellate advocate.

As the in-house lawyer for a public liberal arts university, he manages all legal issues confronting an institution with 5,000 students (3,000 residential), 900 employees, and an operating budget of more than $120 million. In a typical month, he encounters issues involving contracts, employment law, civil rights, constitutional law, regulatory compliance, intercollegiate athletics, intellectual property, and real estate. 

Before becoming Christopher Newport University’s first on-campus attorney, he was Interim General Counsel at Old Dominion University, primary counsel for Norfolk State University, and litigation counsel for the Colorado State University and the Colorado Department of Education. He began his legal career as judicial clerk to Judge Ronald E. Meredith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. A U.S. Senate Youth Scholar who has spent his entire career in government service, he is profiled in BEYOND THE BIG FIRM: PROFILES OF LAWYERS WHO WANT SOMETHING MORE (Alan B. Morrison & Diane T. Chin, eds., 2007).

In addition to his responsibilities as University Counsel, he serves as Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies and the University Pre-Law Advisor. He teaches Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, a freshman seminar on landmark Supreme Court cases, and a study abroad course on Constitutional Transformation in South Africa.

His scholarship focuses on constitutional law in educational contexts in both the United States and South Africa. He authored more than fifty publications in peer- reviewed journals as well as numerous monographs, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and magazine articles. The National Association of College and University Attorneys recognized his legal scholarship and contributions by naming him a Fellow in 2007.  

As Solicitor General of Virginia from 2004 to 2008, he was responsible for the Virginia State Government’s U.S. Supreme Court litigation (except capital cases) as well as lower court appeals involving the constitutionality of statutes or politically sensitive issues. He argued two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and thirty-three cases in the lower appellate courts. He was on brief for seven cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and seventy cases in the lower appellate courts. A recipient of two National Association of Attorneys General BEST BRIEF AWARDS, he co-authored eleven U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs on the merits and more than fifty briefs at the petition stage.

He received his undergraduate degree summa sum laude from Hanover College. In addition to receiving the Crowe Citation as the outstanding male in his class, he was the first Hanover student to become a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He earned a graduate degree with honours from the University of Melbourne while attending as a Rotary Foundation International Ambassadorial Scholar. His law degree is from the University of Virginia where he was a published member of the VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW and research assistant to constitutional law professor A.E. Dick Howard.

He serves as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), teaches an adult Sunday school class, and is Chair of the Board of Directors for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. He is married to the Rev. Julie U. Thro, and has three children (Sandra, Will, & Noah).

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