By Julia Straka, C’21

Daniel “Woody” Aldredge, R’86, L’90, B’90, comes from a long line of Spiders. Twelve members of his family have graduated from the University of Richmond since 1916, with a total of 15 degrees — that’s one graduate each decade since the 1910s. Aldredge and his family believe more ancestors may have graduated from UR in the 1800s, though there are no surviving documents to prove it.

His most recent family member to join the Spider family is his daughter, a recent transfer starting her sophomore year at UR.

Aldredge is no exception to this trend. A three-time graduate of UR, he earned his undergraduate degree from Richmond College in political science and economics. He also graduated with an M.B.A. from the Robins School of Business and received a J.D. from the T.C. Williams School of Law. As an alumnus, he maintains his relationship with the university through donation and service on the School of Professional & Continuing Studies Dean’s Ambassadors Circle (DAC).

Aldredge’s connection with the University began before he was born, when his parents met while playing in the University’s band — “back when they had a band,” Aldredge jokes. After his parents became engaged during their senior year, his father James Buren “Bo” Aldredge, following tradition, was thrown into Westhampton Lake. Bo Aldredge was a business major and his wife, Carolyn Aldredge, studied English.

Woody Aldredge was raised in Richmond, not far from campus. Two of his siblings were also graduates of the University. Aldredge believes his family’s ties to the University run deep. Interestingly, Bo Aldredge was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity. In 2017, exactly 60 years after Bo Aldredge was inducted into Alpha Kappa Psi, one of his grandchildren was admitted into the same organization.

As an undergraduate, Aldredge realized he wanted to enter the field of finance. To further this goal, he obtained advanced degrees in law and business. He returned to UR for those degrees because of the University’s academic reputation, as well as his family connection to the school. He is now a Managing Partner at Aldredge & Co., a healthcare mergers and acquisitions advisory firm.

As an undergraduate, Aldredge took classes at University College (an earlier name for SPCS), a learning experience he describes as an “outstanding contribution” to his undergraduate education.

Upon the recommendation of another DAC member, Richmond labor lawyer and SPCS Adjunct Professor Steven Brown, Aldredge was invited to join the DAC by Dean Jamelle Wilson.

As a member of the Circle, Aldredge participates in school-related events and community partner relationship building. He also receives updates from and advises Dean Wilson about different issues affecting the school. Like Aldredge, DAC members tend to be prominent business leaders in the Richmond area and state: they are an “impressive group of people with a strong sense of commitment,” he says. Many of them are also graduates of SPCS.

Though not a graduate of SPCS, Aldredge is enthusiastic about its mission. He is especially thankful for the opportunity to “see and understand how a community or school, and perhaps the smallest school at UR, has a tremendous effect on people’s lives,” he says. He is also impressed by the diversity of programs SPCS offers, from undergraduate and graduate degree programs to certificates to the Osher Institute for retirees.

In particular, Aldredge is impressed by the HR Management programs at SPCS, which he considers “one of the best and most distinguished programs in the state,” led by nationally recognized professors and experts in their fields.

Overall, he commends SPCS for the important and indispensable role is has played in providing opportunities for working adults and nontraditional students: “[SPCS] fills an important niche for the university and the community [by providing] access to outstanding academics and professors [the students] wouldn't have access to in any other way," he says.

Besides serving on the DAC, Aldredge also advocates for SPCS. He persuaded 11 members of his family to donate to SPCS during UR Here Giving Day. He believes that outreach and service are steps any alumnus or student can take to support their institution and steps he believes all should take: “I was certainly honored to give back and serve the university,” he says humbly, and encourages students and alumni to “whenever you can, serve, in whatever capacity.”

Aldredge credits several individuals at both UR and SPCS for inspiring his passion to give back. The service-oriented Dean Wilson and Linda Turner, Director of External Relations at SPCS, with whom he works closely on the DAC, are two he specifically recognizes. He notes that their leadership, achievements and vision for the school are outstanding.

He also recognizes Littleton “Lit” Maxwell, who worked in the library’s Business Information Center during Aldredge’s undergraduate and graduate years. Each of these individuals, he notes, has had a profound effect on his outlook. He appreciates each individual’s unique approach to leadership: “Each leads in their own way and each serves in their own way,” he says.

In terms of his own goals for the school and his membership on the DAC, Aldredge would like to see SPCS increase its presence and name recognition across both the campus and the Richmond community: he says he hopes he can help the school “achieve the stature that it really is: a fine institution” that’s an integral aspect of the larger university.