James Harvie Wilkinson III, 64, was born in New York City and raised in Richmond. After graduating from Yale and serving in the U.S. Army, he entered U.Va. as a law student. While in law school, he made history as the first student to be appointed to the University's Board of Visitors.
Following his clerkship for Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell – an experience he turned into a book – he returned to U.Va. as an associate law professor from 1973 to 1978.
Six years later – after working as editorial page editor of The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) and deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Justice Department and returning once more as a faculty member to U.Va. – he was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan.
Wilkinson has served on the court since 1984 and was its chief judge from 1996 to 2003. In 2004, he was honored with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, the highest external honor bestowed by the University, which doesn't grant honorary degrees. The citation for that award noted that Wilkinson "is one of our own," as a Virginian, student, professor and scholar.
He has written four books: "Harry Byrd and The Changing Face of Virginia Politics, 1945-1966" (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1968); "Serving Justice: A Supreme Court Clerk's View" (New York: Charterhouse, 1974); "From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration, 1954-1978" (Oxford University Press, 1993), and "One Nation Indivisible: How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America" (Addison Wesley Longman, 1997).