William A. Hammond came to Cornell in 1891, and was named Sage Professor of Ancient Philosophy in 1908. He served as Secretary of the Faculty from 1909 until 1920, at a time when the Dean of Faculty position was vacant. The President subsequently appointed him Dean in 1920. He never lost sight of the purpose of a university – as expressed by the spirit of Andrew D. White – that of academic scholarship and university government, grounded upon the principle of academic freedom.
Following 39 years of service to the University, Professor Hammond retired in June 1930, when he was called to Washington, D.C. as a consultant in the Library of Congress. He passed away in Washington in May 1938.