The University of Richmond Board of Trustees elected two new members - Judge Roger L. Gregory, and Richmond 1983 alumna and Procter & Gamble executive Melanie Liddle Healey - who both bring a distinct enthusiasm for The Richmond Promise, the university's strategic plan for 2009-2014.
Both members were hired to four-year terms during early July, after months of communication with President Edward Ayers and a general introduction to the university's workings.
The initial communication process aimed to make sure the potential members matched the university's chemistry and interests, Gregory said.
"I was very humbled and very delighted to [join]," he said. "My favorite parts of public service have been with education."
Gregory, the first African American to hold a seat on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was recommended for the position by a former university board member. He has had previous board experience, serving on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Virginia State University and Christian Children's Fund. He also served as rector of Virginia Commonwealth University's Board of Trustees.
"I've had the privilege of serving on the board of a large urban place, a university, a Fortune 500 corporation and a non-profit," Gregory said.
When it comes to his position at Richmond, he said he wanted to use his skills to ensure the excellent standards of the school continue.
"The University of Richmond has a wonderful liberal arts undergraduate program and law school," he said. "Universities are the life-blood of any nation, especially Virginia with so many colleges. Success is by choice, not by chance."
As part of the drive toward success, Gregory explained his work method, saying that it was important he listened twice as much as he talked. In particular, he said he stressed the importance of listening to the needs of the students.
"I'm always open to questions and feedback from the student body," Gregory said. "I hope that I can see where we are, and find the things we can do better."
In particular, Gregory said he liked the goals of the Richmond Promise - which include striving toward a better learning environment, more integrated student experience, authentically inclusive community, increased commitment to the Richmond community and maintaining the standard of higher education.
"I think the [Richmond Promise] is a bold and wonderful step," he said. "Provision and promise are the two main parts of a university."
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As the only judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals to be appointed by presidents of different political parties - Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2001 - Gregory said he especially valued the Promise's goals for an inclusive community and an integrated student experience.
"Universities come from the idea of universal," he said. "It needs to be a wholesome and inviting environment where you can perfect and project your views."
One of Gregory's ambitions is a push for more cross-disciplines within the university.
"It is about putting minds together and finding solutions, to work through differences," he said.
As an example, he cited engineering and its possible application to liberal arts. Although engineering is often viewed as a highly specific discipline, Gregory said he viewed it in the broader sense of "getting things done effectively."
A professor with an engineering background, who could apply engineering principles to the liberal arts, would create a wider understanding of social problems, he said.
"It would be a helpful view point of say, health care," Gregory said. "It would be about looking at things more efficiently, but to reach a human result."
Healey also said she was drawn toward Richmond's diversity and inclusivity goals. Recently named one of the "Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business," she said she thought it was crucially important that governing boards have a strong representation from both genders and many kinds of backgrounds.
"I am proud to see the university emphasizing [diversity and inclusivity], along with access and affordability," Healey said in an e-mail.
As a graduate from the university's Robins School of Business, Healey is the group president of Global Feminine and Health Care of Procter & Gamble, and she served on Richmond's Alumni Association Board until taking the trustees position.
"I know what a great place Richmond is and how important a role it can play in the lives of its students," she said. "I will bring to my role as a trustee both an understanding of what the university is and an interest in helping it be the best it can in all its dimensions."
Healey, born and raised in Brazil, cited her international experience as a large part of her nomination to the board. In her 15 years at Procter & Gamble, Healey worked 11 years in positions outside of the United States, mainly in Brazil.
"I myself have benefited from living and working in a number of countries and cultures," Healey said, "so I admire the university's emphasis on the international aspect of diversity as well."
Students who study abroad or pursue other international experience enrich their perspective, Healey said.
"I am also happy to know that one of the aims of the [Richmond Promise] is to help guarantee these experiences for all students," she said.
Overall, Healey said she was looking forward to building upon the progress of the Richmond Promise.
"There is a great sense of accomplishment and momentum at Richmond today," she said.
Both Gregory and Healey will serve on the Academic and Enrollment Management and the Business Management sub-committees within the board.
Contact staff writer Jill Cavaliere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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