William Haywood Moreland left the freight yards of Norfolk in 1904 to enter the Washington and Lee University School of Law with only a high school degree. He graduated in 1906. After eight years of firm practice, he joined the W&L faculty in 1914, and became dean in 1923. At that time the faculty included: Clayton E. Williams, Charles P. Light Jr., Raymond T. Johnson, and Charles R. McDowell. This staff continued intact until the deaths of Dean Moreland in 1944 and Professor Johnson in 1948. These five came to be known as the old guard. Moreland's twenty-one year tenure as dean of the law school is an institutional record unlikely to be matched. Moreland was quiet, but of impressive bearing. It was said that he was called 'Boss' because his presence would permit no other appellation.
With Moreland's appointment, the board of trustees resolved, "That the duties of the deanship be much enlarged including not only the development of the curriculum and the supervision and stimulation of the law students, but also the general development of the school, giving it adequate publicity, recruiting its student body, rallying its alumni, etc."
Moreland was eventually able to increase the size of the law faculty and, therefore, the course offerings. He attended to the needs and growth of the law library. But his greatest test as dean was in the aftermath of the Tucker Memorial Hall fire of 1934. Moreland was very active in planning new Tucker Hall and in rebuilding the library, despite suffering a heart attack during this period. Though he continued to carry out all of his duties as dean, and to teach all of his classes, he never fully recovered. He died on March 30, 1944.