After a long and fruitful business career, former trustee Stephen “Steve” Kneeley was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business on Nov. 3.
Stephen J. Kneeley graduated from the business school in 1985 and has had an impressive career since, including starting his own company, S. Kneeley Associates. Kneeley is also a parent to an alum and an active member of the Spider community. He was the CEO of Spider Management Company and served on the Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2010. Additionally, he was awarded the University’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Service in 2009, said Mickey Quiñones, dean of the business school, in his introduction of Kneeley.
The night began with an introduction by Quiñones, who opened by stating that this event has been three years in the making as COVID-19 interrupted the original ceremony that was planned for April 2020.
David Lyons, ‘87, was then invited to the stage and spoke of his lifelong friendship with Kneeley, in addition to how they chose him as the recipient.
“The awards committee of the [Executive Advisory Committee] met to review nominations and eligible candidates to select the nominee based on their accomplishments in the area of business and service,” Lyons said.
President Kevin F. Hallock, who spoke next, said Kneeley was an easy decision for the committee.
“[Kneeley] is an advocate, a donor, a behind-the-scenes champion for the university,” Hallock said, adding that Kneeley was also the youngest recipient of the award.
Kneeley was appointed CEO of Spider Management, a UR investment firm with a $3 billion endowment that manages more than 30 other nonprofit organizations.
After Hallock, Kneeley delivered his acceptance speech, first thanking his wife for all of her support and then drawing on the accomplishments of his colleagues.
“When I got here at Richmond, it really was a chance to take advantage of everything: coming from a small fishing town with really not much experience around anything. My experience around country clubs was as a valet parker,” Kneeley said.
Kneeley went on, intermixing inspirational ideas with funny memories from school and his persistent love for UR, like when his childhood psychology class took a group of children for a walk around the lake and the child he was in charge of fell in.
He accepted his award for his induction into the Hall of Fame, a piece of glasswork with a spider in the center.
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After the reception, the alumni, faculty and students who attended mingled and discussed their memories of Kneeley and his impact on them.
“Here we are 37 years later since he graduated and so many of his friends are here, supporting him because he’s been such an important person in their lives,” said Shannon Kelley, ‘87.
His family, including his wife, daughter, and his sister and her husband attended, alongside many of his fraternity brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha and his former classmates.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for me to get to witness Steve being honored with something like this, primarily just because it’s hard for me to think of someone who’s contributed more to this university,” said Dave Ong, ‘87. “Not just in regards to financial, but quite the opposite: what he's contributed to the spirit of this university.”
Kneeley’s advice for current students would be to take advantage of all the opportunities at UR and do everything, he said.
“It was fantastic, four best years of my life… It’s a special place, it really is a special spot,” Kneeley said.
Contact news writer Rosalie Hinke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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