2023 Commencement Speaker

Ronald A. Crutcher

Ronald A. Crutcher, a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician, was the president of the University of Richmond from 2015 to 2021. Crutcher is also president emeritus of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Prior to his time at Wheaton, he was provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Miami University of Ohio. In August 2021, he was named a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute. 

Crutcher writes and speaks widely on the value of liberal education, the democratic purposes of higher education, diversity and inclusion, and free expression on college campuses. He is immediate past chair of the board of the American Council on Education (ACE), a senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a member of the board of the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad), and a member of the Board of Governors of Bard College Berlin. For the University of Richmond, he serves as a board member of the Jepson Scholars Foundation and the Spider Management Company. He previously served on the boards of the Posse Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and the Fulbright Association, and he was chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. His thematic memoir, I Had No Idea You Were Black: Navigating Race on the Road to Leadership, was published in February 2021.

Throughout his 45-year career in higher education, Crutcher has consulted with higher education institutions, non-profit organizations, and corporations in the USA and abroad on issues related to organizational culture, especially those bridging racial and cultural divides, as well as on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

He is a former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and several other symphonies. For almost 40 years, he performed in the U.S. and Europe as a member of The Klemperer Trio. He has served on the boards of the Austin Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, and the Berklee College of Music. Earlier in his career, he was president of Chamber Music America, director of the highly-ranked Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, and dean of the Conservatory at the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

Crutcher began studying cello at the age of 15 with Professor Elizabeth Potteiger, a faculty member at Miami University. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in March 1985 and was the first cellist to receive the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, where he also earned his master’s degree. During his graduate study, he received a Fulbright Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University (Ohio), he has received honorary degrees from Wheaton College (Massachusetts), University of Richmond, Colgate University, Muhlenberg College, Randolph-Macon College, and the University of Cordoba in Spain. 

Crutcher has been married for more than 43 years to Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher, Ph.D., M.P.H, an educational consultant and community volunteer. They have one adult daughter, Sara Elizabeth Neal Crutcher, who is an entrepreneur and children’s book author.

Previous Commencement Speakers

  • 2022: Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., social psychologist at New York University's Stern School of Business
  • 2021: Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • 2019: Honorable Janet T. Mills, Governor of Maine
  • 2018: Catherine A. Sanderson, Ph.D., Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (Psychology), Amherst College
  • 2017: Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
  • 2016: Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University, Director of the Religion Department of the Chautauqua Institution
  • 2015: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, President/CEO, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England 
  • 2014: Gregory W. Powell, J.D., CEO/President of Dexter Enterprises, Inc, & Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation
  • 2013: Honorable Angus King (I), U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 2012: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D)
  • 2011: Congressman Michael Michaud (D)
  • 2010: Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine
  • 2009: Rita Colwell, Ph.D., Nationally-respected Scientist and Educator
  • 2008: John McKernan, Former Governor of Maine
  • 2007: Robert Shetterly, Maine Artist and Author
  • 2006: Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Gold Medalist
  • 2005: Olympia J. Snowe, United States Senator, Maine
  • 2004: Henry L. P. Schmelzer, President and CEO Maine Community Foundation
  • 2003: Henry L. P. Schmelzer, President and CEO Maine Community Foundation
  • 2002: Daniel Wathen, Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court
  • 2001: Congressman Tom Allen, U.S. Congressman, Maine
  • 2000: Robert McAfee, Former President of the American Medical Association, UNE Board of Trustees member
  • 1999: Susan Collins, U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 1998: Richard MacPherson
  • 1997: Marvin Wachman, Ph.D.
  • 1996: Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senator, Maine 
  • 1995: Judith Isaacson
  • 1994: Rev. John Brooks
  • 1993: Thomas Andrews
  • 1992: Dorothy Cotton
  • 1991: Marie Gadsden, Ph.D.
  • 1990: George Mitchell 
  • 1989: Andrew McGuire
  • 1988: Dr. David Matthews
  • 1987: Dodge Morgan
  • 1986: Douglas Edwards
  • 1985: Assoc. Justice Caroline D. Glassman, Maine Supreme Judicial Court
  • 1984: Honorable Joseph E. Brennan, Governor of Maine
  • 1983: Arthur Elliott Levine, Ph.D., President, Bradford College (Bradford, MA)
  • 1982: James Russell Wiggins, Editor and Publisher, Ellsworth American
  • 1981: Honorable William S. Cohen, U.S. Senator, Maine
  • 1980: William J. Caldwell, Columnist, Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram
  • 1979: F. Stephen Larrabee, Ph.D., National Security Council
  • 1978: Benjamin M. Ziegler, Ph.D., Educator, Amherst College
  • 1977: Honorable Sherry Huber
  • 1976: Dr. Elsa M. Meder
  • 1975: Dr. Scott Nearing, Economist, Farmer, and Author
  • 1974: Reverend Paul C. Reinert, President, St. Louis University
  • 1973: Dr. Kenneth E. Eble
  • 1972: Dr. Richard Weigle, President, Saint John’s College (Annapolis, Maryland)
  • 1971: The Honorable Kenneth M. Curtis
  • 1970: The Honorable James L. Farmer, A.B., B.D., Assistant Secretrary, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
  • 1969: The Honorable Frank Licht A.B., and L.L.D., Governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation
  • 1968: Mr. Edwin D. Canham, Editor-in-Chief, Christian Science Monitor
  • 1967: Dr. Donald M. MacKenzie, President, Park College (Parkville, Missouri)
  • 1966: Rev. Bernard Haring, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University
  • 1965: His Excellency The Most Reverand Ernest Primeau, Bishop of Manchester
  • 1964: Dr. John W. McDeVitt, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
  • 1963: Dr. Philip Lambert
  • 1962: Father Juvenal Lawlor
  • 1961: Rev. Edward V. Stanford
  • 1960: Reverend Msgr. Robert J. White
  • 1959: Mr. William B. Mahoney
  • 1958: Reverend Mark Franck
  • 1957: Dr. Harry Doyle
  • 1956: Reverend Kevin Kidd
  • 1955: Reverend Fernand Porter
  • 1954: His Excellency The Most Reverend Daniel J. Feeney