Messages from the URAA Board of Directors

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  • April 2024: URAA Recognizes Retiring UR Administrators

    The URAA Board would like to recognize two wonderful administrators as they retire from the University this year.

    Dr. Steve Bisese, Vice President, Student Development

    A guiding force for 29 years at the University of Richmond, Steve enriched countless lives. His leadership fostered student well-being, reshaped residential experiences, and promoted belonging. He championed holistic student development, leaving a profound legacy of compassion and unwavering support for Richmond students. 

    Denise Dwight Smith, Assistant Vice President, Alumni & Career Services 

    Under Denise’s guidance, Career Services gained national recognition and became a beacon of excellence. She greatly expanded career programming across all disciplines, engaging alumni strategically, and ensured comprehensive support for students while creating career connections.

    Interested in learning more about their areas of work? Check out these pages: Student Development, Career Services, and Alumni Engagement.


  • March 2024: Highlighting URAA Board Members

    This month, we’d like to highlight some of our amazing URAA Board of Director members:

    Elsa Falls graduated from Westhampton College in 1964. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college and ultimately flourished in her career as a professor of Biology at Randolph-Macon College. Her favorite UR memory is the “Lantern Parade.” 

    Kate Connelly graduated in 2010 and currently lives in Delmar, NY, where she works in clinical research administration. She was excited to join the URAA Board of Directors for the opportunity to learn more about how to become a better steward of the University.

    Will Michalopoulos graduated in 1985 and lives in Great Neck, NY. He knew that UR was the place for him after the first time he saw the campus! Will chairs the URAA of Board of Directors’ Membership Council. After retiring from a career in publishing, he now works as a mixologist. Each year, he creates a holiday music mix (formerly a CD, now a Spotify playlist) that has raised over $180K for the fight against cancer.
  • February 2024: UR’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging

    By Zuri Walker, ’97 

    When I showed up on campus as a freshman in 1993, it was clear that while progress had been made, there was still plenty of room to grow in making diverse populations of students feel welcome and included.

    Fast-forward 30 years, I found myself walking through the Commons blown away by the myriad of ways that Richmond has evolved to embrace a full commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. There are so many amazing initiatives in place and more in development. Read more here.

    Richmond has worked tirelessly to create an environment that embraces the richness of all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives for the entire community. We’ve definitely come a long way, and we acknowledge that there is more to be done. The URAA Board of Directors is dedicated to continuing to evolve, ensuring that every alum feels seen, heard, and a part of this vibrant and growing community. Together, we can shape our legacy and future.
  • January 2024: HOPE. LOVE. JOY. PEACE.
    The University of Richmond Alumni Association Board of Directors wish all Spiders happy holidays and a great New Year! HOPE. LOVE. JOY. PEACE.
  • December 2023: Highlighting New URAA Board Members
    This month, we’d like to highlight two more impressive URAA Board members:

    Ashleigh Brock (new member) graduated in 2005 and currently serves as Chief of Staff at Wake Forest University. Her URAA service represents a new chapter in her relationship with UR after working for the university for nearly 10 years. Her favorite UR memories are winning the women’s intramural championship with her sorority and watching graduation fireworks over Westhampton Lake.

    Zuri Walker (new member) graduated in 1997 and currently lives in San Francisco, CA where she is an executive and transformational coach. She is a pickleball addict and plays almost every day. Zuri is ideally suited for the URAA Alumni Outreach Council given her passion for supporting alumni by “any means possible,” connecting current students to alumni, and to further reach and support UR alumni of color!

    Wishing Spider Alumni happy and healthy holidays from your URAA Board!
  • November 2023: In Memory of John F. Benton
    In Memory of John F. Benton
    October 24, 1950 - September 19, 2023
    Executive, Smithsonian Institution
    University of Richmond, 1973
    URAA Board of Directors, 2023
  • October 2023: Meet the URAA President

    Ed Pruden is the new president of the University of Richmond Alumni Association. He was born and raised in Washington, D.C., graduated from UR in 1972, and received a graduate degree in 1974. He later received his EDD from the College of William and Mary in 1983. Prior to his retirement, his career in education included being a teacher, principal, and superintendent. Ed is also a Spider parent with a son who graduated in 2000 and a daughter who received a graduate degree in 2023.  

    He served as an officer and director since joining the URAA Board of Directors in 2018. Additionally, Ed has served as a URAA Board representative on committees of the University Board of Trustees. He represents alumni at events such as graduation, welcoming the freshman class and welcoming parents and freshman at the Generational Lunch. Ed attends many Richmond-area alumni events and can be found on campus volunteering in any way he is needed.

    Ed is an avid Richmond Spiders’ sports fan with highlights being the 2008 National Football Championship and all Spider basketball NCAA victories. As a fun fact, Ed has shaken hands with four US Presidents, and he loves to read the daily morning Richmond Times-Dispatch.  

    Ed would like all Spider alums to spread the word about the University’s generous use of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study to make UR affordable for any student who is admitted. It is estimated that 69% of UR students receive all types of aid. We look forward to Ed’s continued leadership as we aim to make a positive impact on Spiders everywhere!

  • September 2023: Reuniting and Reconnecting

    By Sally Wood, W’69, G’71, L’80

    During the pandemic, a group from my Westhampton Class of 1969 began getting together via Zoom. The virtual gatherings reached women from all over, including Florida, New England, and even Scotland. The time difference is a challenge, but that hasn’t kept us from getting together.

    What started as a smaller group has grown to include more folks from the class, and we have found the time to be a special way to catch up with one another. We’ve discussed topics ranging from retirement and retirement living to vacations and family. Other favorite topics have included memorable professors, quirky North Court, friendships, and Westhampton pride.

    It’s clear UR connections run deep, so I encourage you to reach out to classmates and get together, either virtually or in person (hint: Reunion Weekend 2024 is May 31-June 2). You can always utilize UR Online to find contact information and keep your Spider connections strong!

  • August 2023: Member Spotlights
    This month, we’d like to highlight some of our amazing URAA Board members:

    Sally Yates Wood graduated from Westhampton College in 1969, earned her Master’s in 1971 and a J.D. in 1980. About her service on the URAA Board, she says: “[UR] is clearly one of the best small universities in America...I am one proud alumna and like to share information that makes me so proud.”

    Shelly Francis graduated in 1995 and lives in Atlanta, GA, where she works as an entrepreneur disrupting transportation. She most enjoys serving on the URAA Board for “the interaction and learning from different generations of UR alum” and the opportunity to “connect with alums who I might not ever get a chance to meet otherwise.”

    John Benton (new member!) graduated in 1973 and lives in Arlington, VA. He is the former Deputy Under Secretary for Finance and Administration of the Smithsonian Institution. “I think engagement in the University’s accomplishments, strategic plans, and long-term goals going forward and how alumni can help in this work is vitally important…to ensure the University’s continuing success.”

  • July 2023: Why the Alumni Web Matters

    By Suni Vaidya, ’95

    During my sophomore year at UR, Holly Payne, ’94, a future author, referred me to a job at the UR Communications office. That internship led to an-off campus one, which resulted in a full-time job after graduation in 1995, which eventually relocated me to Washington, DC in 1997.

    Knowing I was looking for a new challenge, my friend C.A.M. Wagner, ’94 connected me to "a new tech start-up called Blackboard.” C.A.M., and my friend Jason Crum, ’92, who later helped me pivot to consulting, are why I have a fulfilling career in tech. Over the last 20 years, I’ve hired, referred and networked with countless Spiders.   

    The web matters. Just ask recent graduate, Penny Hu, ’23. We met at a URAA Board meeting and I was delighted to support her job search. Through her hard work and a Spider Alumni connection, she’ll join a prestigious consulting firm. Penny will shine as an alumna, just as she did as a student. 

    The alumni web matters and can make a lifelong difference.
    Attend. Volunteer. Give. Recommend. Hire. Share.

  • June 2023: Event Spotlight: NYC Presidential Reception

    By Braxton Bragg, ’06

    Hundreds of UR alumni in the New York City metropolitan area and three local members of the URAA Board recently gathered at the New York Athletic Club near Central Park for a regional alumni event welcoming President Kevin Hallock and his wife, Tina. Richmond’s Vice President of Advancement, Martha Callaghan, interviewed President Hallock about the newly released strategic plan, which was approved at the April Board of Trustees Meeting. Attendees were thrilled to learn about plans for a new state-of-the-art learning center that will consolidate and enhance existing resources for students as well as reinforcing the University’s focus on scholarships (especially for middle-income families), top-tier internship and career opportunities for graduating students, premier athletics, and more. All in all, it was a great evening and the URAA is excited for the years ahead!

    Check out the 2023-2024 Presidential Reception Schedule Here →
  • May 2023: Student Event Spotlight: 2023 Black Excellence Gala

    By Lisa Gray, ’93 

    The mission and vision of the URAA is to enhance engagement of alumni with the University, its students, and our fellow alumni by encouraging them to be active members of an inclusive and interconnected community of lifelong Spiders who share their time, talent, and resources with other Spiders. The role of the URAA Board of Directors is to educate, to connect, to advocate for this mission and vision. To that end, we attend different UR campus events and amplify the many ways for alumni - future and present - to get involved with the Alumni Association. It was so wonderful for me and fellow Board member, Marilyn Branch-Mitchell, W‘78, to do that by attending the Black Excellence Gala on February 25th.  

    Sponsored by the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion (SCEI) led by Dr. Morgan Russell-Stokes and founded by Dr. Tinina Cade, this year’s annual Black Excellence Gala, included an award ceremony, a heavy hors d’oeuvres and dessert reception, and DJ dance party featuring music from the 1970s to the present. It showcased the brilliance and beauty of the UR Black student community. During the event, I had the pleasure of connecting and reconnecting with several students, staff, faculty, and fellow alumni. It was a special joy to celebrate all the awardees and share our URAA and Spider pins with graduating seniors and new alumni!

  • April 2023: What is the URAA Board of Directors?
    The URAA Board is a diverse body of alumni with 27 officers and directors (the Association bylaws require a range of 20 - 28 members). URAA Board members reside in localities around the United States. The most recent alum on the URAA Board graduated in 2017, and also earned a UR law degree in 2020, while the oldest member graduated in 1959.

    Where might you find a URAA Board member? Look for them speaking at graduation and other events around commencement. Board members also participate in welcoming new students during orientation and introducing alumni at award presentations. There are Board members representing alumni as members of various committees of the University Board of Trustees. You are also likely to see Board members at regional alumni events, Spider athletic events, and Reunion Weekend.
  • March 2023: What is the University of Richmond Alumni Association (URAA)?

    If you are one of ~ 55,000 alumni, you are part of the URAA. The URAA works to promote and foster a dynamic, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship between the University and its alumni with opportunities for alumni to connect with each other through meaningful programs and activities. We seek to inspire a spirit of excitement in our alma mater and encourage support for the continuation of the University for generations to come. Members of the URAA enjoy a variety of benefits, including access to our online alumni directory career development, continuing education discounts, and a subscription to the Richmond Alumni magazine. There are many events sponsored or co-sponsored by URAA.