Cornelis W. de Kiewiet, 83, a past president of Rochester and Cornell universities and former government consultant who had lived in this area since 1961, died Feb. 15 at Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital. He had cancer.

Dr. de Kiewiet, who lived in Falls Church, was born in Rotterdam and reared there and in South Africa.

He was a 1923 graduate of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he also earned a master's degree in history. He earned a doctorate in history at the University of London.

He taught Afrikaans and history in what was then southern Rhodesia before coming to this country and joining the history faculty of the University of Iowa in 1929. He joined Cornell University as a professor of modern European history in 1941, where he also served as dean of the college of arts and sciences and provost before becoming acting president in 1949. Two years later, he became president of the University of Rochester, a job he held for 10 years before retiring in 1961.

During World War II, he had directed Army area studies and language training programs. He also had been a consultant to the Navy and to the old Mutual Security Agency.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Lucea Marian Hejinian of Falls Church; a brother, John, and a sister, Isabelle Vlaskamp, both of South Africa, and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by three children.