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Ridley Milestones


1953: Dr. Walter N. Ridley becomes the first Black graduate of the University of Virginia, receiving a doctorate of education from the Curry School of Education.

1958: John F. Merchant becomes the first Black student to receive a juris doctor degree.

1959: Robert A. Bland becomes the first Black undergraduate to receive a bachelor of science degree in engineering.


1960: Charlene S. McLain receives a master’s degree in education.

1966: Barbara Starks Favazza becomes the first Black female to receive a doctor of medicine degree.

1967: Vivian A. Pinn becomes the second Black female to receive a doctor of medicine degree.


1970: Elaine Jones becomes the first Black female to receive a juris doctor degree.


1987: The first Black Alumni Reunion is held. John F. Merchant unveils his vision of establishing a scholarship endowment fund of $500,000. The Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund is established. Ridley Fund holds the first Black Alumni Homecoming Reception.

1988: The first four-year Ridley scholarships, funded by Roland Lynch, are awarded to Rio Dickens and Tasha Clark.

1989: Herman Russell of Atlanta, Georgia makes the Fund’s first corporate pledge of $10,000.


1991: The third Black Alumni Reunion is held. The Ridley Board makes a presentation to the University Board of Visitors, resulting in a resolution endorsing the Ridley Fund and its efforts.

1992: The Gregory Raven Batipps Memorial Fund is established. The first Ridley scholars, Rio Dickens and Tasha Clark, graduate.

1993: The Alumni Association makes a financial commitment for administrative support, enabling the hiring of Annetta Thompson as the Fund’s administrator.

1996: Dr. Walter N. Ridley dies at the age of 86. The Susan Merchant Scholarship is established.

1997: The Ravenell “Ricky” Keller III Scholarship is established. The Ridley Fund celebrates its 10th anniversary at the sixth biennial Black Alumni Reunion. The Meikel Andrade Memorial Scholarship Endowment is established. The Ridley Fund surpasses the $500,000 mark.

1999: A friend of the Ridley family, Dr. John Bosworth-Fling, becomes the first person to make a major monetary bequest to the Ridley Fund of $200,000. The Ridley Scholarship Fund takes its show on the road, holding its first out of town board meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. New Millennium Campaign begins.


2000: The Ridley Fund assumes responsibility for the Jerome Holland Fund, a merit-based scholarship fund formed to assist Black students at the University of Virginia, with over $3 million in assets. The Ridley Fund surpasses $1 million.

2001: Michele Harding becomes the first recipient of the Ravenell “Ricky” Keller III Scholarship.

2002: The Ridley Fund celebrates its 15th anniversary with Mrs. Henrietta Ridley and Dr. and Mrs. Ridley’s daughter, Yolanda Schuenemann, in Chicago, Illinois. John Peoples (Col ’88), becomes the first recipient of The Elliott F. Hair Award for outstanding service to the Ridley Scholarship Fund.

2003: The Ridley Fund agrees to manage the Lois E. Kirby Scholarship, to be awarded to an outstanding UVA student from Mississippi. Two new endowment funds are established under the Ridley Fund umbrella: the Marsha McGill Fund and the Guinee Family Fund. The Board of Directors, with the guidance of Jim Trice (Engr ’63), formulates a strategic plan with the goal of increasing the annual Ridley Funds to $5 million in eight to ten years.

2004: Stephanie Henderson (Col ’09) of Baltimore is selected as the first Guinee Family Scholar recipient. Chara Moore receives the Annetta Thompson Award. Kenneth and Frances Reid, parents of Drew Reid (Col ’07), pledge the first endowed Leadership Scholarship and mark the beginning of the Founders Society for gifts over $100,000 along with alumni George Tyler (Grad ’69) and Susan S. and John (Dubby) Wynne (Law ’71). The UVA Club of Richmond commits to establish an endowed Ridley Scholarship to benefit students from the Richmond area. Tiki Barber (Com ’97) delivers the keynote address at the dinner event to kick off the campaign.

Ridley Board, 2005
Ridley Board, 2005

2005: The Ridley Fund surpasses the $2 million mark, increasing the number of scholarship recipients to twenty-eight. Black Alumni Weekend (BAW) 2005 surpasses all expectations with over 1,000 participants. Shannon Pierce (Com ’97), a former Ridley Scholar and now a lawyer, co-chairs with Kelli Lemon (Col ’98), pairing up with a committee of over fifty alumni volunteers. Terry Gaskins (Arch ’80) heads up the first Black Business Showcase. Aaron (Col ’99) and Tisa Brooks (Col ’97) support the Celebrity Golf Tournament and sponsor the first BAW intern, Spencer Pilgram. Former Dean of the Curry School Dr. Lindley Stiles, the man who invited Walter Ridley to come to UVA, graces the crowd with tales of Walter Ridley and the historic 1953 graduation at the Donor Brunch. Michael Russell (Engr ’87) and his father Herman Russell help launch the theme of “Building a Strong Foundation and Leadership Scholars.” Ben Hankins, Jr. (Engr ’87) becomes the first black alum to endow a full-tuition scholarship of $150,000 to establish the Ray Graves Memorial Scholarship. Richmond alumni select entering student Spencer Gray (Col ’09) as the first Richmond Ridley scholar.

2006: Byron Marchant (Law ’87), the CFO of BET, is the keynote speaker to the February Richmond Ridley Dinner. Julian Bond is the guest lecturer for the first Annual Maryland Chapter Ridley Scholarship Fund, established by the MD Club and chaired by alumni John Peoples (Col ’88), Paige Davis (Com ’01), and Alice Dearing (Col ’89). Ernst & Young LLP establishes the first corporate scholarships for aspiring accounting majors. The Ridley Ernst & Young Challenge Scholarship is awarded to Allison Price (Col ’10) and the Ridley Ernst & Young McIntire Scholarship goes to Jonathan Cooke (Com ’08). Lauren Boswell (Arch ’10) is the first recipient of the Ridley Reid Leadership Scholarship. Lauren competed in the first online application process for Ridley, competing against ninety-nine other contestants. Ridley holds “Sweet Affairs” in thirteen different locations in cooperation with the Office of Alumni Affairs. Ridley has thirty-two scholarships to award by end of fiscal year 2005–06, ending the year at $2.6 million, halfway to its 2011 annual goal. Ridley is invited to participate in the University’s Capital Campaign, with a campaign goal of an additional $5 million by the end of the campaign. On September 29, 2006, the University launches the Campaign, and Ridley holds its launch dinner with keynote speaker John F. Merchant (Law ’58), and James Trice, Jr. (Engr ’63) hosting Ridley Scholars and Steering Committee members. The Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund becomes Ridley. The new logo is launched with the first newsletter of fiscal year 2006–07.

2007: Endowment surpasses the $3 million mark less than two years after reaching the $2 million threshold. Ridley raised nearly $1 million towards the $5 million Capital Campaign goal. Ridley launched the Ledford McIntire Endowed Ridley Scholarship –  Ridley’s first fully-funded endowed scholarship. It was created and funded by Gregory Ledford (Com ’79). Teresa Bryce (Col ’81), Ridley’s fifth Board Chair, becomes the second recipient of the Elliott F. Hair Award for outstanding service to Ridley. More than 1,000 registrants attended the Ridley/UVA Alumni Association’s 20th Anniversary BAW Celebration. The Ridley video documentary debuted at Carr’s Hill during BAW 2007. Ted Jeffries (Col ’93) was hired as Ridley’s first full-time Director of Development. The Leadership Scholars Program (LSP) was launched to enhance the scholars’ UVA experience and provide additional support and exposure to the University, its faculty, and alumni. The Ridley Club of Greater Washington (TRCGW) is formed in October 2007.

Jill Amanda Chavers2008: The endowment reaches the $3.5 million mark. Ridley garners over $2.8 million towards the $5 million Capital Campaign goal. Increases in the annual awards for Ridley Flagship, Ridley Reid, and Ridley Ledford scholarships are approved by the Ridley Board. The awards will increase by $2,500 from $7,500 to $10,000. The annual awards will now cover the cost of in-state tuition and fees and almost half the cost for out-of-state students. The creation of the Black Pre-Med and Ridley Bryce endowed scholarship funds are approved by the Ridley Board. Richmond UVA Club embarks on the Clarence B. Cain Challenge (CBC Challenge), laying the groundwork for an additional $400,000 contribution to the Ridley Fund’s corpus over the next two fiscal years. The CBC Challenge was issued by a good friend of the University, a leading Richmond businessman and local philanthropist. This donor agreed to match every gift dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 to the Richmond Ridley scholarship in honor of his schoolmate and friend, Clarence B. Cain (Col ’74). Ridley sponsors five “Meet the New Hoos” events in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Tidewater, Richmond, and New York City. High school students who were offered admission to the University had an opportunity to meet UVA alumni, admissions representatives, and current UVA students. Ninety percent of attendees chose to attend the University. Tracy V. McMillan (Com ’86), Ridley’s sixth Board Chair, becomes the third recipient of the Elliott F. Hair Award for outstanding service to Ridley.

2009: Ridley raises over $950,000 in cash and pledges toward its $5 million Capital Campaign goal. Eleven Ridley Scholars earn a distinguished place on the Dean’s List because of their outstanding academic performance during the Fall 2008 semester. Black Alumni Weekend 2009 sets an attendance record. Over 1,300 alumni and guests attended BAW festivities in Charlottesville, April 3–5, 2009. The Philadelphia Regional Ridley Club is established.


Ridley Board Chair Sharon Ann Miller with former dean Sylvia V. Terry

2010: Ridley surpasses the $4 million mark. The Ridley and Holland Blackburn scholarship programs officially merge under the Ridley umbrella. This merger allows Ridley to recruit talented out-of-state students to UVA with a $20,000/year award. Nine Ridley Scholars make the University Dean’s List. The Sylvia V. Terry Endowed Fund is established. Dean Terry served the University in various capacities for 30 years. She is best known for creating the Peer Advisor program, a mentoring program for First Year and transfer students. This program is credited with the University’s high retention and graduation rates for Black students. Ridley takes UVA’s retired Dean of Students Sylvia V. Terry on a tour with Ridley regional clubs in Los Angeles, the Tidewater area, Richmond, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Ridley hosts its first annual event at the Virginia Gold Cup. The Greater Los Angeles Regional Ridley Club is established.

2011: Ridley launches its first viral giving campaign with The Decade Challenge. In 75 days, alumni and friends raised nearly $215,000 in the online campaign. The millennial alumni, those who graduated after 2000, won the competition.

2012: The Ridley endowment surpasses $5 million. Ridley recognizes Professor Blake D. Morant and Paulette Jones Morant for more than 20 years of consistently supporting Ridley. UVA’s Black student graduation rate remains one of the highest in the nations among major public universities, at 86 percent.

2015: Ridley appoints Matthew Brandon, a higher education advancement officer with twenty years of experience, as its new Director of Development.

2016: The Ridley Fund assumes responsibility for the Sonja Hoel Perkins Fund.

2017: Ridley celebrates its 30th anniversary and launches its 30th anniversary capital campaign.

2018: The majority of Ridley scholarships transition to cover full tuition and fees. The 30th anniversary campaign concludes, raising over $2 million.

2019: The decision is made to split the duties of the Director of Development into two positions. Ridley appoints two full-time staff members: Marcus Martin, Jr. (Col ’02), Director of Development, and Trayc Freeman (Col ’15, Educ ’16), Assistant Director.