‘Inside UVA’: He Delayed Retirement To Serve Students at UVA

October 26, 2023 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’: He Delayed Retirement To Serve Students at UVA(33:20)

This week, Ryan hosts Cedric Rucker, who brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education to the University as its interim head of student affairs.


Cedric Rucker has seen some things.

“I’m a proud kid of Richmond. I lived in the projects,” he tells University of Virginia President Jim Ryan on Ryan’s podcast, “Inside UVA.”

Today, Rucker lives in a pavilion on the Lawn after having delayed his retirement to serve, first as senior associate dean in UVA’s Office of Office of African-American Affairs and now, the school’s interim senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

As a young man in the late 1970s, Rucker left Richmond for the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. His parents had always promoted higher education to their son.

The school’s size suited him, and he was excited. But when he arrived, Rucker faced something he’d not anticipated. He told Ryan he cried his first night at the school, “not because I was not capable of succeeding in that environment. I just felt alone because my high school was predominantly Black,” he explained. “I was the only African American male on that campus for two years.”

Some advice from his mother saw him through. “She asked me the question, ‘What did you do in high school that made you successful?’ She said, ‘You joined things. You were part of the community. You need to do those things at Mary Washington.’”

Rucker followed his mom’s advice. He graduated and then came to UVA for an advanced degree and worked in the admissions office for a time. He returned to the University of Mary Washington to work in student affairs for more than three decades, becoming a school institution. In 2022, Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors voted unanimously to rename the University Center the Cedric Rucker University Center. He wept with joy.

Then UVA came calling. Would Rucker consider deferring his retirement while the University conducted a national search for an executive to oversee the Office of Student Affairs? The answer was “yes.” This summer, he agreed to help steer the ship with Dr. Chris Holstege, who at the same time agreed to be the interim vice president and chief student affairs officer.

You would be hard-pressed to find a photo of Rucker where he is not grinning ear-to-ear. His enthusiasm for helping students succeed jumps out. 

“To work with students and support students and advocate on behalf of students … is one of the most special gifts that I think anyone can be given,” he said. “I never thought that I would have the opportunity to return to my other alma mater. And to be able to contribute in the ways that UVA has afforded me, even in this window, has special meaning to me.”

To hear more about Rucker’s unique journey in higher education, tune in to “Inside UVA,” which is streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

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Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications