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Celebrating Retirees

Since March 2020, the pandemic has prevented us from celebrating in person the long and amazing careers of our colleagues who have retired. Our goal on this page is to share with our community the contributions our recent retirees made to the University and the positive impact they had on all of us during their careers.

All community members are invited to share their stories about the retirees listed here. Please email them to

Deborah Hutchison

Communication Center Supervisor

Deborah retired on April 1, 2021.

Susan Opdycke

User Support Specialist

Susan retired on February 26, 2021.

Amy Chan

Benefits Analyst, Human Resources

It has been such a pleasure working with Amy Chan for the past 17 years. Amy began her career at the University on March 29, 2004 as a HR Assistant then moved to an HR Administrator role in 2006 and recently retired as our Benefits Analyst on February 28, 2021.

Anyone who has worked with Amy knows that she is a smart, dedicated, and patient person; an excellent representative of Human Resources. Over the years she has advised many employees and retirees regarding their benefits. Employees often tell me how wonderful it is to work with Amy. They know they are going to get accurate information every time!

I am truly going to miss Amy because she is much more than a team member but a wonderful friend! I wish her all the best in retirement!

- Laura Dietrick, Director, Compensation & Benefits, Human Resources

Amy retired on February 26, 2021.

Julian Morgan

Assistant Director of Energy Management, University Facilities/Control Systems

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to sum up Julian’s accomplishments over the last thirty-five years. As the Associate Director of Energy Management, Julian was instrumental in automating our building controls to maximize both operational and financial efficiencies. His dedication and commitment will be forever evident, as he has positioned us for further advancement in this ever-changing world of technology.

We congratulate Julian on his retirement and are excited for him as he and his family embark on a new adventure in Huntsville, Alabama.

- Paul Lozo

Julian retired on March 31, 2021.

Debbie Govoruhk

Administrative Coordinator, Department of History

Debbie retired after twenty-nine years of service to the University. She is an extraordinary person. In addition to being an exemplary AC—making sure her faculty’s needs are met, anticipating their needs in fact, providing information, encouragement, expertise and support—she is a truly good person. Her kindness and competence influenced all around her throughout her time at UR. Without a doubt she has been the heart of the UR history department. For nearly three decades she has modeled competence and efficiency with compassion and generosity. When I submitted my nomination of Debbie for a University Outstanding Service award, it immediately occurred to me that the award should be renamed the DebbieAward!

The history department wishes our beloved Debbie the happiest and healthiest retirement.  She will have our trust and affection always.

- Joanna Drell, Professor of History

 Debbie retired on March 12, 2021.

Beth Simonds

Assistant Chief, University of Richmond Police Department

Beth has served the University Police Department in various positions over her 30+ year career with URPD. She will be retiring on February 19, 2021 to begin a journey of well-deserved opportunities to do whatever she wants to do. She performed with professionalism and care to our University and our community during her career and advancements. 
I am thankful for her service and support and her efforts to assist multiple areas of expertise to further our overall mission. 
- Dave McCoy, UR Associate VP for Public Safety and Chief of Police

Beth retired on February 29, 2021. 

Cindy Stearns

Assistant Director of Marketing & Special Programs, Dining Services

Cindy Stearns retired after an incredible 42-and-a-half years at the University of Richmond! Read all about Cindy and her work in Campus Operations here.

Cindy retired on February 26, 2021.

Henley Guild

Museum Prepator

Henley Guild, one of our two immensely talented museum preparators, worked for the University Museums for twenty years. He was a vital part of our team throughout those years. Over the last two decades, his expertise, craftsmanship, and knowledge of the museum field, including museum installation design, have been instrumental in the look, growth, and the many successes of the museums at the University of Richmond.

We miss his important contributions to the University Museums at the University of Richmond. Briefly, the museum preparator is responsible for the proper care, maintenance, handling, and exhibition of works of art, natural science objects, and artifacts, which comprise the collections in the three museums of the department. In addition, the preparator also prepares and installs a full schedule of changing exhibitions in various venues on campus using objects in the museum collections and works loaned by other institutions or individuals. That’s just the beginning of describing Henley’s responsibilities and his impact on our museums. At the University Museums, Henley was an integral part of the staff that comprises the department.

Henley, you will be deeply missed by the Museums staff, as both a colleague and friend. You will also be missed by the many faculty, staff, and students who have benefited from your outstanding career with us, and indeed you will be missed not only by the entire University community but the greater Richmond community.

We wish you all the best in your retirement, and we look forward to seeing you as a visitor to our museums in the future.

- The staff of University Museums

Henley retired on February 2, 2021.

Marilyn Hesser

Executive Director of Admission & Data Analytics

Words cannot express our appreciation for Marilyn Hesser, for her work, leadership, support, partnership, and friendship. The Office of Admission accomplished much because of her as she is smart, talented, hardworking, collaborative, insightful, dedicated, and the consummate professional. The University of Richmond became a destination for so many international students because of Marilyn’s tireless efforts to promote UR to school counselors and students all over the world.

It was such a luxury for UR to essentially have two chief admission officers during Marilyn’s tenure as executive director of admission! Given our sophisticated student recruitment program and various enrollment and department goals, it was apparent that one department head is insufficient to lead the office to deliver each and every year. To state the obvious, Marilyn has always been indispensable and essential to the department’s overall success. Ever reliable and innately driven, she can be relied on to manage staff, oversee complex processes, and think and act strategically. And we could always lean on her data reporting and analysis and her great attention to detail in ensuring integrity for all admission and applicant data.

Prior to her appointment as executive director, Marilyn was one of two Senior Associate Directors of Admission in the Office of Admission. As one of the most established officers in the admission office, she served as a member of the department Leadership Team, overseeing two core office functions – application processing and review; and data management and technology services (DMTS).

Marilyn’s performance has always exceeded everyone’s expectations. Her strong leadership, boundless work ethic, approachability, compassion, excellent communication skills, and team-first approach to realizing goals cannot be overstated. Aside from producing at a high level, her varied skill set enabled her to quickly perform a variety of office functions, which made her an invaluable asset and resource for the admission office and enrollment management unit. Marilyn is a wonderful mentor, especially to those she supervised. She was the ideal supervisor and colleague.

- Gil J. Villanueva, Associate Vice President & Dean of Admission

Marilyn retired January 15, 2021.

John Jacobus

Maintenance Technician I, University Facilities/Carpentry

John Jacobus was a man of many talents. He could build anything with his hands. He was one of the guys we would go to when something special needed to be built, like floats for cart parades. John was a pleasant person to be around, always liked to converse with anyone who would listen, and a good person. I hope retirement treats him well.

- Brian Hayes, Maintenance Supervisor, University Facilities/Carpentry

John retired January 4, 2021.

Dr. Jimmy Kandeh

Professor of Political Science

When Dr. Kandeh joined the faculty of the Department of Political Science in 1992, the expectation was that he would build the department’s course offerings in comparative politics and international relations. Not only did Dr. Kandeh meet those expectations, teaching introductory courses on those topics, but he also created upper-level courses in his area of expertise, the politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Because the department’s regional offerings were so slim, he additionally included in his repertoire courses on Latin America, the Caribbean, and the developing world, more broadly. In the ensuing years, as the department’s depth in regional areas grew, Dr. Kandeh designed and delivered classes that complemented its evolving curriculum with courses on cultural pluralism, the politics of developing nations, empirical political theory, and the state and civil society. These courses have become the foundation of the department’s curricular offerings in international affairs and have served the university’s popular interdisciplinary program in Global Studies.

Across his breadth of courses, Dr. Kandeh has acquired a reputation as an engaging and knowledgeable teacher. Students regularly note that he challenges them to comprehend theoretically advanced material yet brings to life the nuances and complexities of Africa, by animating discussions and lectures with tales of his experiences growing up and conducting field work in the region. Dr. Kandeh’s scholarly accomplishments more than match his teaching prowess. During his career at the University of Richmond, he has produced numerous conference papers, book chapters, and journal articles, building a rich oeuvre of research on state capacity, civil society, and democratization in West African states. His work has appeared in the leading journals of African politics and has been recognized by scholars in his field as conceptually innovative, rigorous, and comprehensive. In keeping with his strong scholarly reputation, Dr. Kandeh received a fellowship from the United States Institute of Peace in 1998-1999, which led to his landmark book, Coups from Below: Armed Subalterns and State Power in West Africa, published in 2004. More recently, Dr. Kandeh received a prestigious Fulbright award, which he has used to further study democratization in sub-Saharan West Africa.

For this rich and impressive body of work, Dr. Kandeh has come to be recognized as one of the foremost experts on the politics of Africa. As a result, he is often called upon to advise international organizations and government agencies, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and USAID. During his most recent consultancies, Dr. Kandeh conducted numerous interviews and focus groups with officials and stakeholders throughout Sierra Leone in order to produce an analysis of the nation’s democratization process and governance problems. These efforts have informed his ongoing scholarship on the impact of civil war, disease, and environmental mismanagement on state building and democratization in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Prestigious engagements, such as these, demonstrate the public influence of Dr.
Kandeh’s scholarship, and they have raised the profile of the University of Richmond both globally and in West Africa, where Dr. Kandeh is an active presence in scholarly and nonprofit communities.

Furthermore, Dr. Kandeh’s scholarship is deeply intertwined with his service. Though he has dutifully served on university committees and as the honors coordinator for the Department of Political Science, Dr. Kandeh has devoted much of his care and attention to addressing widespread poverty and illiteracy in his native Sierra Leone. To tackle these issues, Dr. Kandeh has functioned as a veritable one-man non-profit organization. For many years, he has labored assiduously to improve the educational opportunities of Sierra Leone’s children and to bring the joy of reading to its peoples. He is the founder of Teach For Sierra Leone (TFSL), a leadership development and education fellowship program modeled on Teach for America in the United States. TFSL recruits recent university graduates and professionals from varied disciplines to teach in impoverished schools in Sierra Leone. As well, for many years, Dr. Kandeh has created lending libraries throughout Sierra Leone, prioritizing book distributions to poor and rural communities.

- The Department of Political Science

Jimmy retired on January 1, 2021.

Patricia Higgason

Cook I

Patricia retired on January 1, 2021.

Deborah Sommers

Special Advisor to the Dean, School of Arts & Sciences

Effective April 30, 2020, Deborah Sommers, Esq., stepped down as the Modlin Center for the Arts Executive Director to pursue new challenges and creative projects in the performing arts. Effective May 1 through the end of 2020, Mrs. Sommers served in a new role as Special Advisor for Performing Arts to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

During the last ten years, as Executive Director of the Modlin Center for the Arts, Mrs. Sommers has been responsible for the acclaimed Modlin Arts Presents Series, residencies activities with visiting artists, the co-commissioning of new work, and overall management of the Modlin Center facilities. She has supported the main stage productions of the University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, performances by the Department of Music, and has directed and taught in the University of Richmond’s arts management program. Ms. Sommers endeavored to work across disciplines to make connections between the Modlin Center’s artistic programing and courses being taught by faculty at UR.

Mrs. Sommers has established strong community partnerships, increased marketing and visibility for the University’s programs, established a K-12 program, created concession services, and increased excellence in other rental and event management services. She has diversified the Modlin Arts series program, and increased and welcomed audiences from all over the region. Mrs. Sommers strongly supported and advocated for the University’s arts initiative that led to the recent renovations of the arts facilities at UR.

Deborah Sommers holds an B.A. from Hunter, an M.B.A. and J.D. from Pace University, and is licensed attorney in New York and Connecticut.

- The staff of the Modlin Center for the Arts

Deborah retired on December 31, 2020.

Lucretia McCulley

Head, Scholarly Communications at University of Richmond

Lucretia retired on December 31, 2020.

Cindy Lloyd

HR Technology & Business Analyst

Cindy started her career at UR in 1992. During her time here she held various positions in the Bursar’s office, Payroll, and Human Resources. All those different work experiences gave Cindy a very broad perspective on the inner workings of the University, so she was able to bring invaluable insight into every project she worked on. Cindy has a remarkable work ethic, often working late at night and on weekends to meet deadlines. She was always ready to help out wherever she was needed and to answer her coworkers’ questions. Over the years she helped train many new employees, and was rewarded by getting the most complex Banner assignments passed on to her. Her dedication and contributions to University of Richmond and her last department, Human Resources, was truly remarkable. We miss her and wish her a wonderful retirement – she truly deserves it!

- Denise D. Jones, SPHR, Director, HRIS and Operations, Human Resources

Cindy retired on December 31, 2020.

Kathy Hoskins

Administrative Coordinator, Information Services

Kathy Hoskins retired from the University of Richmond after fifteen years of truly exemplary service. There are really not enough accolades that I can dole out to describe Kathy’s contributions to Information Services during those fifteen years. She has been a consummate professional in every way, and her contributions to the division, her colleagues, and to me personally are too numerous to mention in this short space. While we miss seeing Kathy in the office every day, especially her incredibly positive outlook, and we certainly miss all of the things she did to keep the administrative functions of the department running so smoothly, I am so very happy she has embarked on this next chapter in her life! She is deserving of the proverbial “riding off into the sunset," and I hope that she enjoys every moment of her time with friends and family, and especially her grandchildren! We thank Kathy for fifteen incredible years and wish her all the best in retirement!

- Doug West, Assistant VP, Telecom, Media & User Services - Campus Telecommunications

Kathy retired on November 30, 2020.

Sandy Roman

Administrative Specialist, Admissions

The University thanks administrative specialist Sandy Roman for her dedication to the mission and vision of the University and her many contributions to the Office of Admission, particularly in the areas of multicultural and international student recruitment.

Sandy began working at Richmond on August 20, 2007 as an administrative assistant in the Office of Admission. A year later, she applied for the administrative coordinator position that supported both international and multicultural recruitment and this is where she found her passion—working closely with talented and diverse students.

An international school counselor shared, “Admission officers travel to recruit students around the world, but Sandy was always the warm, engaging person who remained in the office as a touch stone for our students when they had a challenge, a concern, or just needed a good listener.”

Her supervisor, Marilyn Hesser, Executive Director of Admission echoes this sentiment. “Sandy was instrumental in recruiting and retaining many of our underrepresented students—she made them feel as if Richmond could be their home," she said.

Over the last 13 years, Sandy earned two promotions and proved to be an exacting, detailed and organized professional who greatly contributed to the results of our collective admission work. Yet, she still found time to serve as advisor of two international student organizations. In recognition of her exceptional work and contributions across the University, she earned the 2013 Outstanding Service Award in Clerical Support Service.

Sandy retired on June 30, 2020. 

Porcher Taylor III

Professor & Program Chair, Paralegal Studies

Porcher retired on June 22, 2020.

Sarah Fisher

Nursing Supervisor, Student Health Center

Sarah retired on June 30, 2020.

Sue Cummings

Registered Nurse, Student Health Center

Sue retired on June 30, 2020.

Bracela Wright

Cook II

Bracela retired June 16, 2020.

Debbie Hardy

Assistant to the Vice President, Communications

Over her many years of service, Debbie Hardy earned the admiration, appreciation, and respect of her co-workers in University Communications, who looked to her for continuity, leadership, and support. In addition, she has been trusted and respected by her colleagues around campus. Debbie's ready laugh, kind word, and empathetic heart made her a defacto confidant, counselor, personal friend, and professional advisor to many in the Richmond community. She used her emotional intelligence, pleasant demeanor, and professional experience to assist others on the campus, irrespective of their specific department or area of work. In so doing, she represented the very best of the University of Richmond employee community.

For more than seven years, Debbie volunteered as the continuing co-chair of the Caregiving support group, where she developed inspirational and informative programs for faculty and staff, and provided direct care and support to those employees experiencing the strain of caregiving. She was a featured speaker at an administrative panel where she was asked to make a presentation on the model work week to a completely subscribed program for University administrators. That presentation spurred follow up and continuing discussions among her administrative colleagues. She was also asked to represent administrative professionals on the Career Framework Steering Committee, an important Human Resources initiative affecting the entire campus community.

Debbie provided administrative support to the leadership of the communications area for many years, but the transition of the department within advancement to a stand-alone division with a dedicated vice president increased the significance and importance of her responsibilities. Debbie proved to be more than up for this significant challenge.

Her colleagues in University Communications are continuing their important work, but miss Debbie’s place in our professional circle. She gave us her time, her heart, and her best self. We are better for having had the privilege to spend so much time with her and to learn from her each day.

- John Barry, Vice President of University Communications

Debbie retired on June 8, 2020.

Carolyn Bigler

Associate Director, Residence Life and Housing

Carolyn served the University for nearly twenty years in various roles in University Housing. She was a part of the founding of the first Office of Undergraduate Student Housing where she served as the Associate Director. In her time at Richmond, Carolyn was diligent in her roommate matching process for first-year students and received many thanks, praise, and recognition for the time and care she put into assisting incoming first-year students to be matched with a roommate. Carolyn also led the initiative to automate the housing selection process to make things more convenient for the students. Her work and leadership has allowed the Office of Residence Life and Housing to carry on and build from the strong foundation she built.

I am thankful for all that Carolyn did for the department over the last three years as mergers happened and transition was at the forefront. Carolyn retired from the University in June 2020 and is undoubtedly enjoying her quiet time by the pool.

- Patrick B. Benner, Director, Residence Life & Housing

Carolyn retired on May 29, 2020.

Dr. Robert Nicholson

Associate Professor of Economics

Bob retired on May 11, 2020.

Margaret Ivey

Administrative Director, Law Clinical Placement

As Director of the Clinical Placement Program, Margaret carefully cultivated a network of local lawyers, judges, and business partners to build a program of seventy-five placements in civil, criminal, in-house, and judicial fields. Her dedication and hard work helped lay the foundation for experiential learning at Richmond Law, benefitting countless students in their legal education. After over thirty years of service, the students and faculty of Richmond Law will certainly miss Margaret, and her immense contributions to our community.

- Wendy Perdue, Dean, University of Richmond School of Law

Margaret retired May 11, 2020.

Dr. Sheila Carapico

Professor of Political Science and Global Studies

Sheila retired on May 11, 2020

Dr. Neil Ashworth

Professor of Management

Neil is a warm and generous person, and he was a warm and generous colleague, too. I owe him a great deal. He created the Environmental Management course years before I arrived at UR, and he offered advice when I was considering taking on that course several years ago. Teaching Environmental Management is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and I may not have had the opportunity to teach it were it not for Neil’s innovativeness and generosity.

- Trey Sutton, Associate Professor of Management, Robins School of Business

Thank you for everything you did for me when I started at the Robins School back in 2005. At the time, I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any research active faculty I could go to when I had questions. You always made time for me and gave excellent advice. I miss your dry sense of humor and I hope you are enjoying your well-earned retirement.

- Steve Thompson

Neil retired on May 11, 2020.

Gregory Foreman

SPCS Adjunct Faculty

Greg retired on May 2, 2020.

William "Scooter" Morton

Carpenter, University Facilities/Carpentry

Scooter won the Best of the Best (BOB) award in June 2003, which recognized his work throughout the entire Physical Plant.

"Scooter has built many items out of wood over the years, including furniture, countertops, cabinets, and more. If it could be made out of wood, Scooter could build it. Scooter always liked a challenge with wood. When a work order was submitted, he would take an old napkin to draw out the project before work could be started. He now uses a notepad, unless a napkin is closer. He took much pride in his work down to the very last detail.

"Scooter has always helped other carpenters with their work by giving his knowledge of the craft to help his team for the future. Of all the items he built, the bar top and cabinets in the Modlin Center lobby near the ticket office are very impressive. Also, if you are ever in the Thalhimer Cottage, check out the headboard of the bed. He also made that from wood and an idea from his carpentry mind!"

- Brian Hayes, Maintenance Supervisor, University Facilities/Carpentry

Scooter retired on April 3, 2020.