Oxley, 76, was elected at the RFL's annual meeting in Warrington to succeed Jim Hartley and will hold the honorary position for the next 12 months.
"This is a very great honour," he said. "I am fortunate indeed to hold office in a year which sees the UK host the Rugby League World Cup and the Festival of World Cups, which have already got under way.
"I have achieved many things during my lifetime in sport but nothing could surpass the possibility that come November 30 I will be at Old Trafford as RFL president to see England captain Kevin Sinfield lift the World Cup."
Oxley helped revolutionise the game during his time as chief executive from 1974-92, when he reached the then compulsory retirement age of 55.
Dewsbury's Andrew Farrow was made vice-president at the meeting and Bob Stott was re-elected as a non-executive director for another three-year term.