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Mortar Board hosts President's Forum on Crutchers' forty year partnership

<p>University President Ronald A. Crutcher (left) and Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher speak during the Mortar Board's President's Forum on Feb. 10.&nbsp;</p>

University President Ronald A. Crutcher (left) and Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher speak during the Mortar Board's President's Forum on Feb. 10. 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, University President Ronald A. Crutcher and Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher shared the insights and advice they have garnered during their 40-year partnership at Mortar Board’s President’s Forum.

The event, hosted by UR Mortar Board chapter president Nat Berry and vice president Ellie Bush, took place on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Westhampton Living Room. 

Bush and Berry, both seniors, organized the forum to pose student-generated questions to the couple, who celebrated their 40th anniversary together this past November.

The couple met on March 3, 1979, after a mutual friend invited them both over for dinner, President Crutcher said. 

“The first night I met her, I knew I wanted to marry her,” he said. Three months later, he asked her parents’ permission to propose, he said, and they were married five months after. 

The couple moved to North Carolina shortly after their wedding, beginning their decades of work on various college campuses and communities, among them Wheaton College and President Crutcher’s alma mater, Miami University of Ohio.

The Crutchers reflected on the many traditions they have pursued and continued during their leadership at UR, such as mentorship and helping with move-in day. Mentorship has proved vital for both of them, the Crutchers said, in both their professional careers and their personal lives. 

It began in 1999, when President and Dr. Crutcher each had 10 students whom they met with on a monthly basis, during President Crutcher’s term at Miami University, President Crutcher said. They continue a similar mentorship program today at UR. 

“It’s my way of staying involved as president with the students,” President Crutcher said. 

Dr. Crutcher advised the members of the audience to pursue multiple mentors, crediting her many mentors for her success in education and life.

When asked about their favorite parts of serving in their current roles, the Crutchers again emphasized the student population. Dr. Crutcher said being around students was her favorite, and her only challenge was “turning the love off.”

Reflecting on their relationship, Dr. Crutcher gave much advice to the crowd. 

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“When you’re looking for relationships, don’t define it,” she said. “It will come to you when it’s time. That's the Betty version.”

President Crutcher highlighted his aspirations for the campus community as well. Entering UR as president in 2015, he hoped for a campus where students and faculty members felt comfortable connecting with one another regardless of race, class, political ideology and other differences, he said. 

“We’re not there,” he said. “But we’re on our way there.” 

Dr. Crutcher agreed. 

“We really do want to one day come into the Heilman Center and see more of you conversing with people who don’t look like you,” she said. 

Upon reflecting on the happiness of their partnership, she said, “If we don’t make it to 41, I’m happy for the 40.”

UR’s chapter of Mortar Board was established in 1931, recognizing college seniors for their achievements in scholarship, leadership and service, Berry said during the event.  

The group hosts the President’s Forum every year to foster a direct conversation between UR’s president and students, said Mortar Board selections chair and senior Sofía Bustamante. 

Contact news writer Ellie Watson at ellie.watson@richmond.edu. 

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