Beyond Vassar

AAVC Outstanding Service to Vassar Award: Richard "Ricky" Roberts '74

By Baize Buzan '10

After considering Judge Ricky Roberts’s numerous commitments, both academic and extracurricular, during his time at Vassar — Madrigal Singers, house fire captain, Senate Grievance Panel member, and a double major in black (now Africana) studies and political science, to name a few — it may come as no surprise that this Renaissance man did not stop wearing multiple hats after graduation.

 His proven aptitude for taking on a range of commitments led Roberts into an illustrious and multifarious career in the U.S. justice system, serving as assistant U.S. attorney, principal assistant U.S. attorney, chief of the criminal section in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and, most recently, federal court judge in the U.S. district courts, to which he was appointed in 1998.

In addition to the many positions he has assumed in his professional life, as well as his roles as dedicated husband and father, Judge Roberts has continued to wear yet another hat — that of loyal Vassar alumnus. His ongoing connection to and involvement with his alma mater have earned Roberts this year’s AAVC Outstanding Service to Vassar Award, presented annually to an alumna/us in recognition of her or his extraordinary commitment, leadership, and service in promoting the goals and higher interests of both Vassar College and AAVC.

Roberts’s involvement with AAVC began over 20 years ago with his work with the Vassar Club of Washington, DC. That, in turn, led him to serve as a member of the AAVC Board of Directors from 1986 to 1990. In 1995, he was elected as an alumnae/i trustee; his work was so highly valued that the Vassar College Board of Trustees reelected him for two additional terms of service, the last of which he completed in 2007.

In addition, Roberts has been an instrumental source of support for the African American Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AAAVC) since its creation in 1984. His most recent efforts include serving as chairman of the 2008 AAAVC Study Group, focusing on the review of AAAVC’s mission, goals, volunteer structure, and future plans.

Roberts has also made frequent visits to the Vassar campus throughout his years as an alum, participating as a career mentor for both AAAVC’s mentoring programs and those of the college and regularly volunteering to bestow kente cloths, often worn for ceremonial occasions, to graduating African-American seniors during AAAVC’s annual Kente Cloth Ceremony, where he has also served as a featured speaker.

Roberts’s steadfast commitment to Vassar, as well as the exceptional and multifaceted service that have defined his years as an alum, have made him an indispensable member of the college’s greater community for more than three decades. “He has made himself available to all Vassar students over the years,” notes Willa Panvini McCarthy ’92, AAVC’s director of alumnae/i relations for operations, “and countless numbers have called upon him for advice and guidance.”

— Baize Buzan ’10

Photo credit: Russell Monk
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