President Ronald A. Crutcher is distinguished in his musical and academic pursuits. But he is also a man of immense knowledge, experiences and skills that more people at the University of Richmond should be aware of.  

Crutcher, 71, describes himself as “a principle person who believes very strongly in living your values,” which becomes quite evident when he is talking about his family. Family, specifically his relationships with his wife, Betty Neal Crutcher, and daughter, Sara, are vital to gaining a deeper understanding of Crutcher.

“My family is everything to me," Crutcher said. "That is my highest priority: my wife, my daughter and my broader family. I will always respond to a phone call from [my daughter] even if I say, 'I’m sorry I’m in a meeting right now.' But that is critically important because family is all you really have at the end of the day.”

Sara Crutcher can attest to her father’s devotion as a family man through stories from her childhood and adolescent years. One story in particular exemplifies their unique relationship.

“When I was younger, and he was working at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, I was at the daycare on campus and [Crutcher] used to come have lunch with me every day,” Sara said. “The people at the daycare were always so amazed because at the same time every day I would stop playing with my toys literally and go over to the window to wait for him.” 

Sara especially praises her father for instilling in her high personal and professional standards and for his superb cooking skills, including some homemade family recipes.

When Crutcher does not have any work commitments in the evenings, he enjoys honing his skills in the kitchen by cooking dinner — specifically fish, as he is a pescatarian. Additionally, he likes to make a homemade roll recipe -- which was passed down from his mother -- every Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said. 

Even before his passion for cooking emerged, Crutcher had an affinity for music from the age of six. However, he did not start playing the cello until the eighth grade, when his school’s band director asked if anyone wanted to enter a program designed to teach students how to play instruments. Crutcher was interested and eventually choose the cello. 

“I fell in love with the instrument immediately,” Crutcher said. “It’s hard to explain. I felt a connection right away even though I hadn’t even learned the instrument. I broke the string.” 

Music and cooking are not Crutcher’s only interests outside of work. He enjoys cycling on the weekends, is a “fledgling golfer” trying to get back into the sport after a five-year hiatus and, despite his sometimes-serious demeanor, loves to dance, he said. 

“I like to have fun,” Crutcher said. “You know, I can do the Electric Slide and the Wobble and all those dances. Actually, somewhere on campus is a video tape of me doing the Electric Slide with [prospective] students last spring that suddenly showed up at a board meeting in April.”

When Crutcher is on campus and working, his days are filled with meetings often spanning from the morning into the late afternoon, he said. He can fit a tremendous amount of work into his schedule because he begins each day earlier than most.  

After waking up around 5 a.m., Crutcher does 10 minutes of autogenic training – a meditation technique for relaxation – reads Inside Higher Ed, practice cello for a short time “just to keep the fingers going,” reads parts of The New York Times and then wakes up his wife to go to the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness together around 6:15 a.m. He's in his office by 8:30 a.m., he said. 

Despite starting his fully loaded and busy days at the crack of dawn, when Crutcher arrives at his office, he is always smiling and will stop to talk with employees regardless of his schedule, the president’s scheduler, Kevin Corn, said. 

Corn, who has worked in the Office of the President since February of this year, noted Crutcher’s even-keel attitude and “genuine type of laugh” and admitted that, when Crutcher plays opera or classical music from his office, the entire suite can hear it. 

Corn offered some advice to students unfamiliar with UR's president. 

“The best thing that I can recommend is to introduce yourself to President Crutcher and talk to him, even if it’s a two-minute conversation,” Corn said. “Have that conversation, and I think you will be struck by the warmth of his personality, by how intensely he will listen to what you have to say and just how meaningful of an interaction you can have with him even in a short amount of time.”  

Contact senior sports writer Jacob Taylor at jacob.taylor@richmond.edu.