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UC’s Newest Trustee Had the Student Experience of the Transformation of Campus

Robert E. Richardson, Jr. says the excitement surrounding a re-energized campus is spreading beyond the Uptown, and he says it was his own UC student experience that shaped him into the leader he is today.

Date: 2/18/2008
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
UC ingot When Robert E. Richardson, Jr. was the 2001-2002 Student Body President of the University of Cincinnati, the Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center was under construction as part of the transformation of MainStreet, and Richardson’s office was located in what was called the Student Government Pavilion – a temporary structure located around Braunstein Hall that looked like a big white bubble at the corner of McMicken Commons.

Robert E. Richardson

Richardson is now UC’s newest member of the Board of Trustees, the governing body of the university. He was appointed to the board in January by Ohio Governor Ted Stickland and attended his first meeting as a board member on Jan. 29. Available records indicate that Richardson, who’s 29 years old, is the youngest person to serve as a UC trustee.

Richardson is an attorney with the law firm of Cook, Portune & Logothestis in downtown Cincinnati, which specializes in Ohio employment law and workers’ rights and benefits. His practice areas include labor and employment, products liability litigation and general litigation.

After graduating from Winton Woods High School in 1997 and earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UC in 2002, Richardson pursued his law degree from the UC College of Law, graduating with honors in 2005. “With my public involvement and my work with the UC NAACP and the community, I knew I wanted to change things and I felt the law was the path where I needed to go to make a difference,” he says.

As the campus underwent its own transformation during Richardson’s undergraduate experience, he was also making a difference on campus. In 1998, he established the first college chapter of the NAACP in the Tristate and led efforts to educate students about civil rights, social justice issues and the importance of voting. In 2002, he was among the first group of students and was the first African-American to be honored with the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence, an award that recognizes leadership, scholarship and service to the university as well as the Tristate community.

Richardson remains dedicated to serving the community and serves on the boards of the Cincinnai branch of the NAACP, the Central Park YMCA and as a member of the Cincinnati Park Board. He is also co-chair of the Political Advocacy Committee of Agenda 360, a regional action plan in which UC is actively involved. Agenda 360 is working to transform Cincinnati USA into a leading metropolitan region for talent, jobs and economic opportunity by the year 2020. Richardson says this action plan also emphasizes the importance of recruiting and retaining the area’s young professionals.

Richardson comes from a long family history of relatives who attended or graduated from UC, including his father, Robert E. Richardson, Sr., a former president of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO; his mother, Sheeri Richardson; his aunt, Theresa Harper; his sister, Kim Bostic; sister Tasha Richardson; and his wife whom he met in college, Mahlet, who championed student causes with Richardson and also graduated from the College of Law after earning her bachelor’s degree in information systems from the College of Business.

He says there’s a re-energized atmosphere on campus, beyond its physical transformation. “I noticed the excitement when I attended a football game last season,” he says. “We now have the atmosphere of a school where students are connected to their university, and that’s very encouraging.”

Richardson says it was his experience as a UC student that shaped him into the leader he is today, and he remains dedicated to serving the community. “I would say to students that one of the most rewarding things that you can do for yourself is to get involved while you’re here. You have an opportunity to do things that you may not have when you graduate. All of my involvement at UC helped shape the person that I am and helped shape my leadership skills, which have been very valuable.”

He adds that he’s pleased to see that the nation is experiencing a significant increase in the youth vote, an issue he has championed since his days an undergraduate. “I think this generation is becoming more engaged in their community and in the political process, and realizes the importance of getting involved.

“On another note, we always need the support of our alumni at this great university,” Richardson says. “We need their financial support and their moral support, as we rally to help our great University of Cincinnati.”

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