Richard and Alice Tilghman

Retired Banker and His Wife Invest in Academic Excellence

For Richard G. Tilghman (College ’63), there was never any question as to where he would enroll following his graduation from Norfolk Academy. The University of Virginia was his No. 1 choice as he found the broad nature of a liberal arts education appealing.

Having served as CEO of Crestar Financial Corp. for fifteen years and then as vice chairman of SunTrust Bank, Mid-Atlantic until his retirement, Mr. Tilghman credits his professional success to the training he received in the U.S. Army. “Being in the military taught me how to work hard and efficiently,” he said.

His University education made it possible for him to attend the Army’s Officer Candidate School, after which he served in the 82nd Airborne Division. U.Va. helped shape him in other ways. As a foreign affairs major, Mr. Tilghman’s main focus was on the Middle East. A course taught by Ruhi Ramazani changed the way he viewed—and continues to view—that complex and strategically vital part of the world.

In recent years, he and his wife, Alice, have worked to ensure that attending the University of Virginia is just as transformational an experience for others. The Tilghmans have created not only the Richard and Alice Tilghman Endowment for Academic Excellence Fund to aid the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in meeting its most pressing needs but also the Richard G. and Alice C. Tilghman Jefferson Scholars Graduate Fellowship Fund to boost the number of Jefferson Fellows in residence and to expand the fellowship to new disciplines. In support of the capital campaign, they also give to several other programs at U.Va.

Most recently, the Richmond couple decided to use a charitable remainder unitrust to augment these two previously established funds. “As we have gotten older, my wife, Alice, and I have spent a substantial amount of time talking about our philanthropy in a planned way as opposed to simply responding to requests,” Mr. Tilghman said. Establishing the remainder trust was a way of doing that.

The University has changed considerably since Mr. Tilghman attended it, half a century ago. It was good then, it is better now, “and I believe that it can be extraordinary down the road,” he said, on a par with the country’s top private universities.