By Savannah Masterson
Social Media Editor
Washington College’s Board of Visitors and Governors welcomed three alumni to its ranks this semester: Rick Wheeler, Class of 1986; Valarie A. Sheppard, Class of 1986; and Brandon Riker, Class of 2010.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be considered a member of the Board,” Wheeler said.
In an interview with The Elm last month, President Kurt Landgraf said that these alumni are “high quality people.”
At WC, Wheeler was an international studies major, a member of the rowing team, a brother of the Kappa Alpha Order, and a member of the Student Government Association. After graduation, he remained involved with the College as a member of the 1782 Society and served as the chair of the President’s Leadership Council. He acted as the committee chair for the 25th Class of 1986 reunion.
Wheeler currently serves as the vice president for Oakland Consulting Group, an information technology enterprise based out of Lanham.
“Without a doubt I see a very strong leadership at the Board level; I see a strong leader in President Landgraf. He’s the right type of person to take WC into the future,” he said.
Riker graduated with a Bachelor’s in economics and minored in business management. As a student, he was a member of the Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, a brother of Phi Delta Theta, and captain of the rowing team. He pursued higher education at London School of Economics to earn a Master of Science degree.
He served as a field director for the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
He said his experience has taught him that, “it really comes down to the planning. If you have a good plan you can execute it. We had a plan and a vision, we ran a campaign we wanted to run.”
Riker is currently a strategic planner for Teucrium Trading, an investment firm that he helped start with his parents who serve as the CFO and CEO.
As a Board member, Riker is focused on financial feasibility.
“I never once paid for a book in graduate school,” he said. “The books were either always online or in the library. The costs of books is overlooked. [I’m concerned with] ways to reduce costs, out of pocket costs, making sure academics are to par but also the differentials that make the College special.”
Sheppard was a psychology major and went on to earn her master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology at the University of Akron. She is the chief of executive services and customs enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security. Prior, she taught at WC as a psychology professor.
“Valerie Sheppard brings her previous experience as head of the Alumni Association; I interact with the Board often, and we’re very lucky to have such a committed Board,” Landgraf said.
The Board works closely with Landgraf and his staff to manage the orientation process for new trustees. Currently, the Board has a total of 36 members.
“The first bit of advice would really just be to take their time and learn what they can about serving as a trustee and the current state of the College. They serve six year terms so they have the time,” Board Chair Larry Culp said.
The Board members join the College as a new senior team takes the helm.
“We all know that getting new students is getting more competitive every year,” Culp said. “WC may not be a great fit for everyone, but it is certainly an outstanding fit for certain students. We want to let those folks know we want them to come to Chestertown and have the experience that so many of us hold dear.”
Landgraf said that the Board members are especially dedicated to the College because not only are they unpaid for their work, but they have to pay for their involvement.
“It’s always important to remember that they’re here because they love this place,” he said. “My view of the Board is that they provide real input and are very supportive. It’s interesting because it’s almost entirely made up of people who have graduated from this school and/or have children that graduated from this school, so there’s an emotional commitment they have to the well-being of the College.”