The Becker family celebrating commencement.

A Family Tradition

November 10, 2020

When John Becker arrived at UR in 1975, our campus looked much different than it does today. “You had payphones in the hallways, and you’d make calls to your parents on the weekends… all the furniture was steel. The hallways were all cinderblock so it looked kind of like a hospital, institutional type of thing.”

But even as John describes a Richmond so unlike its present form, there’s a distinct fondness in his voice. “But what really made the school different were the people—almost from day one.”

When John graduated in 1979, he couldn’t have known that one day all three of his children would, like him, graduate from the Robins School of Business—or that he and his wife Carla would serve on the Parent Leadership Council together.

The first to follow in his footsteps was Kelly, ’15, who toured the school with John. “After the tour she literally got in the car and said ‘we don’t need to go anywhere else, I want to go here,’” John said. Kelly’s memory of the trip echoes her dad’s. “It was so special to be able to tour the school with my dad. He told me stories about his time at Richmond and how much he loved it there. I knew I would feel the same way,” she said.

JJ, ’17, followed two years later, where he also had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of John’s life as a student. “I remember on my move-in day freshman year, my dad showed me the dorm room in Wood Hall he had lived in 30 years prior,” he said.

Christine, ’20, was the last of her siblings to attend Richmond, but there was no question that she wanted to be a Spider. “My entire high school career was me focusing on getting into UR. I even grabbed my Dad’s old UR sweatshirt from his closet just so I could wear it around in high school!”

While Richmond has transformed in countless ways since John’s time as a student, the heart of the school is still much the same. In fact, some of John’s favorite professors were still teaching when Kelly, JJ, and Christine attended. “I was talking to Professor Hoyle and he remembered my dad from one of his first classes ever teaching at Richmond,” Christine said. “There’s still this connection that lasted over the years,” John said. “I think the faculty is very…focused on helping educate the kids and helping the kids find out who they want to be. I don’t think they’re necessarily molding them in a particular fashion, but they’re allowing the kids to mold themselves and providing that environment, which to us was really important.”

Christine graduated this May, and the Beckers decided to make a gift to the business school, honoring their family’s connection to Richmond and naming the Robins School archway. Their generosity offers critical unrestricted support for the school. “The kind of funds [the Beckers] provided gives us the ability to be nimble and meet student needs, adapting as situations change,” explains Dean Mickey Quinones, “We are extremely grateful for this gift.”

“We knew that Christine graduating was going to be a very big moment for our family because she was going to be the last Becker (at least for a while) attending the school," Kelly said. "We were also so thankful to our parents who supported us the entire way…we started thinking about different ways we wanted to thank the school and give back…because the school—and our parents—have given us so much. It’s a bond we will always share…we are so blessed to have all attended the same school and learned so much that prepared us for the real world, and it’s now our responsibility…to make sure others have the same opportunity.”

“They take a lot of pride that their dad went there and that they all went there—it’s important to our family,” Carla said. 

“It’s all about people,” John said, “…it’s that ‘second home’ concept that I think is really important.” 


Unrestricted gifts like the Beckers’ are critical to maximizing our ability to respond to the ever-changing needs of our students and faculty. To learn more about making a gift to the University of Richmond, please email donorrelations@richmond.edu.