Three words forged on the granite seal in the new Dick Richardson dedication site, nestled between Saunders Hall and Steele Building, describe how many members of the campus community would describe one of UNC's former provosts.
The dedication area consists of four wooden benches and a wooden chair circled by shrubbery and shadowed by surrounding trees. It stands as a tribute to Richardson, UNC's chief academic officer from 1995 to 2000.
Richardson retired last year after more than 30 years of service at UNC. He joined the UNC faculty in 1969 as a political science professor. In addition to teaching, he served as chairman of the Department of Political Science from 1975-80 and also devoted time to many University committees before being appointed provost in 1995.
"I'm thrilled with it. I saw it yesterday, and it is just wonderful," Richardson said of the dedication. "I hope that students and faculty will continue to use it for years to come."
Richardson said funding for the dedication came from students and friends who asked for donations. Students and faculty members raised thousands of dollars for the project and held a surprise ceremony for Richardson last spring, when they announced their plans for the dedication site. An informal reception is planned for Oct. 25.
Richardson said the dedication is special because it embodies part of a vision he had for the University.
"Years ago I was in charge of the intellectual climate report, and the creation of more discussion areas were brought up in the report as a necessity," Richardson said. "So this gift touches me greatly."
Donna LeFebvre, a political science professor and friend of Richardson's, had an active role bringing the dedication to fruition. "When Dick was getting ready to retire, we decided this was a perfect time to try and establish a dedication to him and get more benches on campus," LeFebvre said.
LeFebvre stressed the appropriateness of the dedication. "Dick always thought of himself first and foremost as a teacher," LeFebvre said. "We wanted a dedication that was physical, something students could actually use."
On Thursday afternoon, freshman Katie Jensen sat on a bench in the dedication site as she studied.
"It's a really nice dedication to Mr. Richardson, and they got it up really quick, too," she said. "There's not a lot of benches around campus to just sit and hang out. The fact that we are still remembering him is a very good thing."
LeFebvre is trying to create more areas like Richardson's dedication area. "We now plan to distribute brochures around campus, opening the prospect of having bench areas created available to any organization on campus," LeFebvre said.
Provost Robert Shelton, who officially replaced Richardson in February, said he is happy with the dedication and remembers Richardson fondly. "Though I am fairly new here, it is obvious to me he was a tremendous human being," Shelton said. "He was one of the first people I met when I came to UNC, and he provided me with great insight about the campus community.
"This is a case when the honor fits the man completely."
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