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Dr. E. Bruce Heilman

Dr. E. Bruce Heilman

1926 – 2019
From President Crutcher


Dear Members of the University Community,

With deep sadness, I write to inform the University of Richmond community that Chancellor E. Bruce Heilman, who led the University through an era of profound transformation as president from 1971 through 1986 and again from 1987 to 1988, died peacefully overnight at the age of 93.

Dr. Heilman’s leadership came at a critical time in the University’s history, as he was effectively the first steward of the $50 million gift by E. Claiborne Robins in 1969. During Dr. Heilman’s tenure, the endowment increased substantially as the Robins family and those inspired by them accelerated their support for the University of Richmond under his leadership. Dr. Heilman managed the influx of these new funds with great vision, elevating Richmond’s aspirations and overseeing the construction of the Robins School of Business, the Gottwald Center for the Sciences, Tyler Haynes Commons, Lora Robins Court, Gray Court, and the Robins Center basketball arena, among other initiatives. In 1986, the University named the Heilman Dining Center, which was also built during his tenure, in his honor. His imprint on our campus is momentous and far-reaching for every living Spider.

During my presidency, Dr. Heilman has always been generous with his friendship and wise in his counsel, and I have been profoundly grateful for his example. He was a daily presence on campus, a beloved guest and frequent speaker at University events, and a personal friend to countless alumni across generations. We will miss the benevolent spirit with which he shaped our campus community for nearly 50 years, and we offer our sincerest condolences to his family and their many, many friends.

Before becoming president of the University of Richmond, Dr. Heilman served the nation as a 17-year-old enlistee in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and experienced combat in the Pacific Theater. When he returned home, he attended college on the G.I. Bill, graduating from Campbellsville Junior College, now Campbellsville University, before earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Peabody College, now part of Vanderbilt University. He became a well-respected national leader, and served as coordinator of higher education for the state of Tennessee and as president of Meredith College. He received honorary degrees from more than a dozen institutions, including the University of Richmond in 1986. His five children and nine of his 11 grandchildren are alumni of the University.

Dr. Heilman’s last wishes continue to demonstrate his abiding love for the University of Richmond. His memorial service will take place Sunday, October 27, at 2 p.m. in Cannon Memorial Chapel, and his ashes will be interred in the University’s columbarium alongside those of his wife, Betty Dobbins Heilman, who died in 2013. The family asks that gifts in his memory be directed to the E. Bruce and Betty Heilman Scholarship at the University of Richmond, the Greatest Generation Foundation, and the E. Bruce and Betty Heilman Endowed Scholarship at Campbellsville University.

The University of Richmond flag will fly at half-staff from Sunday, October 20, through Sunday, October 27, in recognition of his passing.


Ronald A. Crutcher

We will miss the benevolent spirit with which he shaped our campus community for nearly 50 years.

President Ronald A. Crutcher

Dr. E. Bruce Heilman