Limestone University marked a significant milestone in its 178-year history with the recent election of Randall L. Richardson as the first Black chair of its board of trustees.
Richardson will serve a two-year term as chair beginning on July 1 at the private institution located in Gaffney, according to a news release from the school.
Lee E. Sowell was elected as the board’s vice chair; Haley M. Williams was named secretary; and Paul W. Fleming was selected to serve a second term as treasurer.
David P. Riggins is completing his two-year term as chair. With two years remaining on the board, Riggins elected not to pursue a second term as chair to concentrate his efforts on assisting the university with its fundraising efforts, according to the release.
Richardson has been serving for the past two years as secretary of the board of trustees, the release stated. He is the chief financial officer for the Julian F. Keith Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Black Mountain, which is operated by the state of North Carolina.
“I am extremely honored to be elected as Chair of the Limestone University Board of Trustees,” Richardson said in the release. “I am thankful to my fellow Board members for trusting in me as we work together to make Limestone the very best that it can be. Limestone has been a pioneer in so many ways, beginning with its founding in 1845 as the first higher education institution for women in South Carolina, and one of the first in the nation.
Richardson’s election as Limestone’s Board Chair is notable considering the extremely low number of minorities selected across the country to serve as members of the board of trustees for higher education institutions, the release stated. A national study conducted in 2020 found that only 20% of board members at private colleges or universities were minorities. That same study found that 35% of the trustees were minorities at public colleges and universities. While such data was not included in that study, it would be presumed that the percentage of minorities serving as board of trustee chairs, or even officers, is even lower across the nation, the release stated.
“It’s certainly not lost on me that my appointment as chair is another historical moment for this fine university, and it’s a humbling moment for me, personally,” Richardson said. “But the task at hand isn’t about me and it’s not about the other members of our Board. It’s about the students from diverse backgrounds who we serve, including those who may have found access to higher education difficult. It’s about changing their lives and the trajectory of the generations of family members who will come after them. What makes this university unique is that we are a diverse community of women and men of different races, religions, geographic origins, socio-economic backgrounds, personal characteristics, and interests.”
Richardson is a member of the board of directors for the Crossnore School and Children’s Homes, and he serves on Carolina Day School’s Buildings and grounds sub-committee.
A native of Asheville, Richardson is a graduate from Montreat College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is also a graduate from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. Richardson is Fellow of The American College of Healthcare Executives.
The remaining Board of Trustees offers include Sowell, who recently retired as the group president/president of outdoor products North America for TTi North America; Williams, a Limestone alumna who is the sole proprietor and an attorney for Williams Law LLC; and Fleming, a Limestone alumnus who is the owner/president of Prosource Packaging, Inc.
The Board of Trustees also recently elected five new members to begin five-year terms, beginning on July 1.n