by Allie Smith

Inspiration can come from unexpected places – and people.

For Richard Woodruff, it came from two aunts – one who inspired him to pursue a career in business and one who inspired him to attend the University of West Georgia.

Richard WoodruffNow, more than 30 years after graduation, the UWG alumnus has bestowed a significant contribution to the Richards College of Business Dean’s Visionary Endowment Fund.

Woodruff and his wife, Amy, were inspired to include the RCOB Dean’s Visionary Endowment in their philanthropic priorities because they see the challenges surrounding higher education, and they wanted to do their part in helping minimize those challenges.

“I wanted to equip students and the workforce later for times to come and generations down the road,” said Woodruff. “There are a lot of challenges we face in matching the skillsets of students with what the workforce needs when they graduate. If I can have some sort of lasting impact that will enable Dean [Dr. Faye] McIntyre or a dean in the future to move on an initiative they deem suitable at the time, that’s an incredible legacy to leave behind.”

The RCOB Visionary Fund was founded as a way to give faculty and students extra financial support in their academic pursuits. Currently, the fund is being utilized to support faculty and student development programs, study abroad programs, student research, and faculty fellowships.

Woodruff graduated from UWG – then called West Georgia College – in 1987 with a business degree, which set him up for a successful 30-year career in sales. Woodruff currently serves as an area sales manager for HYDAC Technology, an international firm specializing in fluid technology, hydraulics and electronics.

Woodruff said UWG was an integral part of his development into the business leader he’s become. While attending UWG, Woodruff learned a number of business and social skills that set him up for success. Beyond the knowledge that Woodruff received during his education, he learned, for the first time, how to see things from others’ perspectives.

“UWG helped me in ways that you don’t see in a textbook,” said Woodruff. “It was the first time I had even thought about people looking at things differently. I’ve been able to use aspects of that learning in several of the companies I’ve worked for around the world. Those courses laid the groundwork in ways I didn’t even realize then.”

Woodruff discovered so much about himself during his time at UWG, and he is hoping his gift will allow future students the same opportunity at self-discovery.

“UWG is addressing the needs and concerns in higher education at a national level, focusing more on non-linear, non-traditional paths of education – very different from when I was in college,” Woodruff said. “Those paths are becoming more common and more necessary, and UWG has proven to be agile in adapting to those new ways of learning. I’m proud to be a part of continuing that trend.”

Photography by Steven Broome

Posted on December 10, 2019