Richard Ramsey

Entrepreneur Honors Parents with Engineering Scholarship

Richard L. “Rocket” Ramsey (Engineering ’76)

Ask Richard Ramsey (Engr ’76) about his undergraduate years in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and he can tell you how the rigorous academics and problem-solving skills he acquired there provided him the tools he needed to become the successful businessman and entrepreneur he is today.

“With SEAS, it was primarily about how to solve problems,” said Ramsey, the Engineering School’s campaign co-chair. “Even though I never became an engineer, everything I’ve done with my career has been based on that premise.”

Ramsey has started, developed and sold three successful companies—all of them focused on identifying emerging technologies to provide business solutions. The last company, Locus One, was among the first to provide wireless e-mail, several years ahead of the competition.

With a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Locus One, Ramsey set up acharitable remainder unitrust (CRUT). In 2007 he transferred trusteeship of the CRUT to the University based on the strength of the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO), which manages the University’s endowment and other related investments. When the trust terminates, a percentage of the remaining monies will support the Priscilla D. and Lyle B. Ramsey Scholarship at the Engineering School.

The scholarship was established by Ramsey in honor of his mother, a World War II Civil Air Patrol pilot and amateur golfer; and his father, a top graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a career naval officer. Through a recent gift of appreciated stock, he was able to designate his family scholarship as one of the first fully endowed Rodman scholarships, reserved for top engineering students.

Ramsey believes the University needs more planned gifts to strengthen the academic, research and leadership opportunities it offers its students.

“The Engineering School produces a lot of leaders during their stay at U.Va. and it’s amazing what our grads get involved in,” he said. “Only half stay engineers. The other half become successful in other fields. Giving to the Engineering School—and other schools at the University—is an investment in a small group of highly motivated, highly talented, very conscientious future leaders.”

Ramsey would like to see an expansion of the kinds of exciting collaborative initiatives—such as the biomedical engineering program and the ecoMOD affordable housing project—now under way between the School of Engineering and other schools on Grounds.

“We have great centers of learning here,” Ramsey said. “The more we can encourage collaboration among schools, the more well-rounded leaders we will have. We’ve become a society of specialists, but we need to broaden that scope. Students need exposure to the arts, to classics, to undergraduate business programs, to architecture, etc. That’s exactly what Thomas Jefferson was looking toward—being good at your area of expertise but also understanding the big picture.”