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Digital History at Ursinus

Richard P. Richter: 1976-1994

President Richard P. Richter

Richard P. Richter

Richard P. Richter, was inaugurated as the 10th president of Ursinus College from 1976 to 1995. Orginially from Montgomery County Pennsylvania, his hometown is Oaks, until his family moved to Mont Clare. Living just minutes from the college, Richter attended Ursinus as a commuting student from 1949 to 1953. As a student at Ursinus, Richter took English courses and engaged literary activities. After graduation he attempted a Master's in English at Penn, however, never received his PhD. Dr. James E. Wagner, vice president of Ursinus at the time, invited Richter to return to Ursinus to teach English Composition. His return to Ursinus is where he would establish close realtions with president Donald Lawrence Helfferich. His apprenticeship under Helfferich paved way for Richter to become inaugurated as president of the college. As president of the college Richter's tenure has been defined and described as the "Reshaping" years of Ursinus College. With the campaign and installation of the Residence village project, Berman Museum of Art Cetner, and F.W. Olin hall buliding, Richter trasnformed the atmospher and presence of Ursinus College. 

Richter delievered a speech at his inaugural address in November of 1976 addressing Ursinus college as a "Not Known University". The speech questioned the ranking and placement of Ursinus College amongst other colleges and universities in the nation. His speech detailed the importance of maintaining tradition, community, and obtaining a new image for Ursinus, with a promise to dedicate all time and energy towards fulfilling these commitments to Ursinus. 

Richter's Inaugural Speech

Excerpt from Richard P. Richter's Inaugural Speech

The campaign success of the Residene Village project soon led to other developments on campus such as the Berman Museum of Art. However, the art sculptures scattered around campus were the first installments on campus before the art center itself. The Bermans had donated "Upheaval II", a rusted steel sculpture created from a major hurricane, as the first piece to arrive on campus. The students showed admiration and appreciation towards the presence of the sculpture. This news reached the Bermans, who then decided to gift and donate more art and sculptures to spread around campus. Through this process of donating artwork, Richter had established a healthy relationship with the Berman family which would eventually lead the the investment and installation of the Berman Museum of Art. 


"Temple". Sculptured gifted by the Bermans


"Upheaval II" sculpture gifted by the Bermans

Berman Art Center

Construction taking place to develop the Berman Museum of Art Center 

Berman Museum of Art

Opening of the Berman Museum of Art

The relationship of President Richter and the Bermans continued to flourish with the opening of the Berman Museum. In the process of finalizing the project of constructing the museum, another project was simultaneously being implementd with help from the Bermans. Richter's devotion and dedicated efforts towards improving the quality of Ursinus proved something to Phillip I. Berman. The honest efforts Richter made to carefully include the Bermans and their art collection in the Ursinus campus and community added value to their relationship. This led Phillip I. Berman to help endorse the college for the F.W. Olin Foundation to fund Olin Hall. On August 28th, 1988 it was announced Ursinus was awarded $5.37 million to fund Olin Hall, a new academic building on campus. 

F.W. Olin Building

F.W. Olin Hall being constructed 



President Richter concluded his presidential term and left Ursinus college on January 1st, 1995. He started his presidency and ended his presidency belonging to campaigns which transition the college into the campus and community for which it is known today. The installments Resident village, Campus Sculptures, Berman Museum, and F.W. Olin Hall, are all reasons for why Richter is a memorable UC president. His tenure made Ursinus a physically appealing school and the curriculum changes improved to offer a higher quality education. The Berman Museum and art sculptures around campus are a unique attribute to the campus that has left lasting impressions on past, current, and prospective students. His presidency helped established Ursinus College as an elite school which quickly grew to compete with locals schools in the nation. Richter left behind a book taking form of a Memoir entitled, "The Bodger Dialogues", which reflects on his life at ursinus as a student growing to become president of the Alma Mater. 


Richter Accepting Portrait