Rob Richardson, Jr. Appointed Board Chair for The University of Cincinnati

Photography by Wes Battoclette

On February 2, Rob Richardson, Jr. was unanimously elected as Chair of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees. At the age of 37, Richardson became the youngest person to ever serve as the head of UC’s trustees and is currently the youngest in the country to serve as chair among the nation’s research-intensive public universities.

“It is an honor and I’m humbled,” Richardson says. “I have a lot of experience with the university and it is great to be able to serve the university at this level. I am ready to help the president and his team build on the great legacy that is already the University of Cincinnati. I believe my eight years as a trustee and my time as student body president have helped me prepare for this incredible opportunity.” 

Richardson’s appointment was met with great support, especially from university president Santa Ono. 

“We have worked together the entire six years that I have been at the University of Cincinnati,” President Ono says. “In that time we have been able to accomplish many things together that we are very proud of. I am looking forward to a fantastic year.”

Richardson has outlined very specific goals for his tenure. He shares a mutual vision with President Ono about what they hope to accomplish in the next year. 

“We believe we will make tremendous movement towards these goals and leave a lasting mark on the institution,” Richardson says. “I am particularly excited about our joint effort to diversify not only the student body but also the faculty of the institution.” 

What can the university, as well as the community, expect during the next year? 

“We want to look at inclusion and how we can take the inclusion efforts already in place and make them systemic and take them to the next level so we aren’t just one of the best for inclusion in the state, but one of the best in the world,” Richardson says. 

Richardson feels inclusion is not just a side conversation, but must be part of the university’s DNA. He feels very strongly that as a public institution, the most important thing the university can do is provide access and opportunity for people. 

“This is what separates public education from everything else and that is why I am so passionate each and every day,” Richardson says. “I will be working closely with President Ono to make sure we are expanding opportunities to kids that live right here in Cincinnati.

“For example, we have a program called the University of Cincinnati Scholars Program, which provides them year-around bridge support so we can have more students from neighborhoods around Cincinnati actually get into the University of Cincinnati. 

“If you want to change a child’s life, you need to give them an education. There are a number of students in schools around Cincinnati who are unable to get accepted into the university because they are not adequately prepared for college. It is our job to make sure they are prepared and this is the true way we solve childhood poverty by providing opportunities for education. It has provided the opportunity for me and for so many others. If we want to see our economy expand, it first starts with providing education.”

In addition to becoming a leader in inclusion as a university, Richardson will also be focused on innovation. 

“We are going to have a strong push for taking the infrastructure we have at the University of Cincinnati and making sure we are leveraging it in the most effective way,” Richardson says. “For example, we are partnering with LEAD Magazine and working with the IgniteCincy Innovation Tech Summit, which will take place next fall on the University of Cincinnati’s campus.

“This will be the beginning of a tradition of highlighting the business innovation and research that happens at the university. We will be pursuing ways to partner with our community and business partners to expand on the great things that happen on the university’s campus.”

This year will prove to be exciting for the University of Cincinnati. Richardson’s contagious enthusiasm and passion for the university will be an invigorating force to strengthen an already astounding academic institution.