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Robert E. Richardson Jr. Elected Chair of UC's Board of Trustees

UC alumnus Robert E. Richardson Jr. is the youngest Board chair in the university’s history.

Date: 2/2/2016
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Ashley Kempher
The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees elected officers during the Feb. 2 meeting, and Robert E. Richardson Jr. was unanimously elected chair for the next year. Thomas D. Cassady will serve as vice-chair, and William C. "Wym" Portman, III, will serve as secretary. Richardson replaces Thomas H. Humes, who completed two years as chair.
Headshot of Robert E. Richardson Jr.
Robert E. Richardson Jr.

With his election to Board Chair, Richardson, 37, an alumnus of the university who once served as undergraduate Student Body President, becomes the youngest person to ever serve as head of UC’s trustees. He is also the youngest currently serving board chair among the nation’s research-intensive public universities.

According to Richardson, “It will be an honor to serve my alma mater, just as it was an honor to serve as Student Body President 15 years ago. Now, as in the past, it will be my goal to listen to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community. Together we will change outcomes and build on UC’s great legacy by focusing on inclusion, innovation, and student engagement.”

Richardson received his UC Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 2002 and his Juris Doctor from the university in 2005. While a student at the university, he established the first college chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the tristate and was elected Student Body President in the spring of 2001. During his senior year in 2002, Richardson was awarded its highest honor for undergraduates - the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence.

He has served as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees since 2008, and has provided youth mentorship in bridge programs linking local high schoolers to academic programs at the university, including the UC Scholars Academy bridge program with Hughes STEM High School, which focuses on college readiness and leadership development for the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Most recently, Richardson not only played an instrumental role in founding the UC Scholars Academy but has also taught at UC as an adjunct instructor in a fall 2015 UC Forward course, “Inquiry to Innovation: Leading Change at UC.”

Richardson knows firsthand how student mentorship and a residential college experience for high schoolers, like the UC Scholars Academy, can alter a career path. He credits UC’s Emerging Ethnic Engineers (“E3”) Summer Bridge Program with preparing him to enter and succeed in the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Law. Richardson often mentions that without the E3 program he would not have made it through engineering. That’s why he is so committed to providing students the same opportunities he had. That’s also why he has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships including the Marathon Petroleum scholarship, one of the largest corporate scholarships for diversity at UC.

Richardson’s one-time UC mentor, Cheryll Dunn, a retired associate professor and current academic director in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, stated, “As a student, Rob loved the University of Cincinnati, and he still does. He was and is committed to making the opportunities at UC available to all – from Hughes students, to students throughout our region and state, from students throughout the U.S. and the world.”


Thomas D. Cassady is president and CEO of USI Midwest, LLC, which is a part of USI Insurances Services, a national insurance brokerage firm. He has responsibility for 22 offices in the Midwest that include 150 salespeople, 500 service associates and over $1.5 billion of premium. He entered the insurance field shortly after graduating from the University of Cincinnati.

Cassady has earned professional designations as Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU); Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU); and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). He was a trustee of the Independent Insurance Agents of Ohio and a member and past president of the Cincinnati Insurance Board. He founded Queen City Insurance, which he sold to USI in 1999.

Cassady has been active in the Cincinnati community, serving on the Board of Directors for Beech Acres Parenting Center, where he was president 2007-09. He has served on the Board of Advisors for UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, and Beta Theta Pi International Fraternity as vice president and general secretary (1988-1992). He is former president of the boards of both Mount Notre Dame High School and The Milford Spiritual Center’s Board.

A 1976 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in history, Cassady was active in numerous extracurricular organizations. He was president of Beta Theta Pi, attorney general of student government and vice-president of the Inter-Fraternity Council. He became a member of Cincinnatus, Men of Metro, Sigma Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) and was awarded the Fisher-Krieder award for the Greek man of the year in 1976.


William C. Portman, III (Wym) is director, Sustainability, for Pon North America, a Dutch family company. He is former president of Pon North America, and, for over 20 years, CEO of Portman Equipment Company.

Portman is a 1977 graduate of Kenyon College and received his MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (1981). He is a board member of Lebanon House, Inc., and a former board member of Xtek, Inc., the James N. Gray Company, Advanced Handling Systems, Scallan Supply Company, and Portman Equipment Company.

Portman's community involvement includes serving as a Board of Trustees member of The University of Cincinnati, UCRI, UC Health, Ohio River Way, Inc., The Montana Nature Conservancy, The Queen City Club, and as an Executive Board member of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC). He is a former board chair of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Chair of Joy Outdoor Education Center, president of the Commonwealth Club, vice chair of Cincinnati Museum Center, vice chair of The Seven Hills School, vice president of the board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Inc., board member of the Children’s Home, and chairman of the Chamber’s Introducing Greater Cincinnati Program.