Retired Navy Vice Adm. Oswald Symister Colclough, 82, who twice served as acting president of George Washington University and who also was a former dean of its law school, died of cardiac arrest Monday at his home in Chevy Chase.

Adm. Colclough retired from military service in 1949 as commander of the submarine force of the Pacific Fleet. He had served on submarine duty in the Pacific during World War II and also had been captain of the battleship North Carolina. Later, he was judge advocate general of the Navy.

He was born in Monroeton, Pa. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1920. In 1935, he earned a law degree at George Washington University.

In 1949, Adm. Colclough returned to George Washington as dean of its law school, a position he held for four years. He taught at the law school from 1949 to 1964. He was dean of the faculties from 1953 to 1964 and acting university president in 1959-61 and again in 1964-65.

In addition to his duties at George Washington, Adm. Colclough was principal representative of the Defense Department in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1958 and 1960. He was a member of the Atomic Energy Labor-Management Relations Panel and chairman of the executive committee of the National Capital Downtown Committee, Inc. He also had served as chairman of the D.C. Juvenile Court Advisory Committee, the White House Disarmament Task Force on Navy Inspection, and the Educational Institutions Advisory Council.

He had been director of the Armed Forces Management Association and the Patent, Trademark and Copyright Foundation of George Washington University. He had been chairman of the board of trustees of the Washington Center for Metropolitan Studies and a member of the board of directors of the Washington Planning and Housing Association.

His military decorations included two Legions of Merit.

Adm. Colclough belonged to the D.C., American and Federal Bar Associations, the American Bar Foundation, the American Judicature Society, the National Lawyers Club, the Maritime Law Association, the Order of the Coif, the national Security Industrial Association, the Army and Navy Club and the Army Navy Country club.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Kathleen Bain, of Chevy Chase; three daughters, Eugenia Cooke of Cross Junction, Va., Dorothy Bruns of Sandy, Ore., and Sara Alexander of Crownsville, Md., 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.