As Betty Neal Crutcher's time as the University of Richmond's presidential spouse comes to a close, she will be remembered and honored for her service to UR through a flowering buckeye tree planted between the Cannon Memorial Chapel, the Forum and the Gottwald Center for the Sciences.
Outgoing president Ronald Crutcher presented Betty Neal Crutcher with the tree on June 10, just a few hours before their farewell event at the Camp Concert Hall later that evening.
"At one o’clock today, I surprised Betty Neal Crutcher for the first time in our 42 years of marriage," Crutcher said during the farewell event with a chuckle. "We dedicated a tree in her honor over by the science center, and she didn’t know what was happening."
The tree sits behind a plaque that reads:
IN HONOR OF DR. BETTY NEAL CRUTCHER
MENTOR EDUCATOR FRIEND
WITH GRATITUDE FROM THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY
"Of our 42 years of marriage, we spent 9 great years in the buckeye state," Crutcher wrote in an email to The Collegian. "The buckeye tree always reminds me of Betty because it blooms red in the spring, which is her signature color."
Betty Neal Crutcher made sure to be involved with the campus community, whether it was by helping students move into their freshman year dorms or hosting seniors for steak dinners when they successfully lived with the same roommate for four consecutive years at UR.
Crutcher chose to plant the tree at the intersection of the Chapel, the Forum and Gottwald with purpose.
Gottwald represents Betty Neal Crutcher's mentoring of undergraduate women and faculty members, particularly students in the sciences as a result of her master's degree in public health and underrepresented students; the Chapel represents her personal faith and involvement with the Chaplaincy and diverse faith groups; and the forum represents a space for the robust and engaged dialogue to which Betty Neal Crutcher was committed, Crutcher wrote.
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In addition to her many contributions to the UR community, Betty Neal Crutcher wrote and coauthored several notable articles, gave a speech at the Association of American Colleges and Universities Global Engagement and Social Responsibility Conference titled "A Personal Connection" in 2017 and served as a faculty member at the 2014 American Association of Blacks in Higher Education Leadership and Mentoring Institute.
Aside from her remarkable achievements and contributions to UR, Crutcher hopes that the community will, above all, remember Betty Neal Crutcher's warmth, he wrote:
"Betty has never met a stranger; she has always made people feel like a lifelong friend thanks to her infectious laugh, big heart, and the hugs she gives out so freely.
"Betty has truly touched the lives of so many Spiders, especially in the many, many special mentoring relationships she has cultivated over the years. Betty is also such an accomplished professional in her own right; I have relied on her for support and counsel, and my success is tied to our enduring partnership."
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