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General Counsel of the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY, USA
William E. Thro is General Counsel of the University of Kentucky, former Solicitor General of Virginia, and the co-author of both The Constitution on Campus: A Guide to Liberty and Equality in Public Higher Education (2022) and Title IX: The Transformation of Sex Discrimination in Education (2018).
Over the course of his career, he has served as chief legal officer for both a flagship research university and a public liberal arts college, litigated constitutional issues in the Supreme Court of the United States and lower appellate courts, taught courses on the Constitution at the undergraduate, graduate, and law school levels, and written extensively on constitutional law in education contexts. His law review articles have been cited by the highest courts of thirteen States as well as numerous lower courts.
Mr. Thro is the recipient of Stetson University’s Kaplin Award (contribution to higher education law and policy scholarship) and the Education Law Association’s McGhehey Award (contributions to education law). He is a Fellow of the National Association of College & UniversityAttorneys (higher education scholarship) and a Distinguished Research & Practice Fellow of the National Education Finance Academy (contributions to education finance). A past President of the Education Law Association (2013) and the National Education Finance Academy (2022-23), he is the Chair of the General Counsel Advisory Committee of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and an NCAA General Counsel Advisory Board member.
As the Chief Legal Officer for the University of Kentucky, he provides initiative-taking strategic advice on critical legal and policy issues confronting a land grant research university with an integrated academic medical center, a high-profile athletics program, and an operating budget of over $5.6 billion. Before assuming his present position in 2012, he spent eight years as the first in-house counsel at Christopher Newport University, a public liberal arts university. Before becoming in-house counsel at Christopher Newport, he represented public institutions as an Assistant Attorney General in Colorado and Virginia.
As Solicitor General of Virginia for four years, he was responsible for the Virginia State Government’s U.S. Supreme Court litigation (except capital cases) and lower court appeals involving the constitutionality of statutes or politically sensitive issues. He argued two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous cases in the lower appellate courts. He co-authored seven U.S. Court merits briefs, eleven U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs, and more than fifty briefs at the petition stage.
He is a former Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Christopher Newport University and served as adjunct law faculty for both the University of Kentucky and the University of Richmond.
A native of Kentucky, he received his undergraduate degree summa cum 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 began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the late Judge Ronald E. Meredith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville.
He is married to the Rev. Dr. Julie Urback Thro and has three adult children (Sorrah, Will, and Noah) and a daughter-in-law (Amber).