By Anthony Langley
Rodney A. Harry, a 1990 graduate of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences and former president of VCU Alumni’s African American Alumni Council, died Oct. 12 from complications related to diabetes. He was 56.
A Petersburg, Virginia, native and 1983 graduate of Petersburg High School, Harry dedicated much of his life to serving others, including eight years as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, a 30-year career in national security with the federal government and active involvement as a life member of the Richmond (Virginia) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He also served two years on the VCU Alumni board of governors and was an inaugural member of the VCU Alumni Council.
Harry’s volunteer leadership as president of the African American Alumni Council demonstrated his commitment to inspiring Black alumni and students. He served from 2014-20, the longest tenure as president in the organization’s 30-year history, and was instrumental in creating programming to keep Black alumni connected to VCU. Today, programs that flourished under his leadership continue the council’s commitment to student development and retention.
“We want students to know that [the council] is a resource for their success,” Harry said in 2018. “I’m proud of what the African American Alumni Council has become and glad that VCU has made such a commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Harry’s service and leadership earned him the 2021 VCU Alumni Association President’s Award for Exceptional Volunteer Service. His nominator, Jackie Tunstall Bynum, chair of the council’s program and events committee, described Harry as “compassionate, kind and hospitable.”
“Rodney opened his home to the [African American Alumni Council], hosting meetings, retreats and watch parties in the spirit of Ram Nation,” she said during the virtual celebration of the 2021 VCU Alumni Volunteer Service Awards in June. “He also opened his heart and extended himself for the betterment of the AAAC and the entire VCU community. He became more than the president of the AAAC — he became a dear friend. The AAAC accomplished so much under Rodney’s administration, and for that, we are grateful and appreciative of his leadership.”
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Richmond Kappa Endowment Fund Inc. via check mailed to P.O. Box 25553, Richmond, VA 23260.