Robert Lambeth Jr., who has served as president of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia for nearly four decades, has announced plans to retire after a tenure that stands as the longest among state-private-college associations across the U.S.
Lambeth, who has served since 1983, will continue in the post – which represents 27 private, non-profit colleges and universities in the commonwealth – until a successor is named.
During his tenure, Lambeth has worked with more than 100 presidents of Virginia’s independent colleges and universities to encourage collaboration and unity among the schools. He led the organization in a variety of areas, including government relations, joint institutional projects, business activities and collective marketing of member schools.
“I am very appreciative for the opportunity Virginia’s private colleges have given me,” he said in a statement. “It has been a rewarding, interesting and challenging job. It has been my pleasure to work for numerous private college presidents and senior college administrators, many of whom have become close friends. I have also enjoyed having a close working relationship with many legislators and government officials.”
Among achievements under his watch are the development and expansion of the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) Program for Virginia students.
The initiative has served more than 300,000 students attending Virginia independent colleges and universities, and for the coming academic year will provide $4,500 grants to more than 20,000 Virginia college students.
“Robert has been a tireless champion for Virginia’s independent colleges for decades,” said Dr. David Johns, president of Ferrum College and chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia’s board of directors.
“In his role, Robert has collaborated with lawmakers on all sides of the aisle to secure funding necessary to make students’ dreams come true,” Johns said. “Likewise, through this work, Robert has been a champion and advocate for all who lead these colleges and universities. We are stronger and wiser thanks to Robert’s guidance and friendship, and we wish the very best in his retirement.”
During Lambeth’s presidency, CICV developed an innovative self-insured health-insurance program for the employees of participating institutions, which has provided health-care insurance for more than a decade and currently covers 3,300 employees plus an additional 2,800 dependents. In recent years, VPCBC has become the model for similar programs established by Virginia businesses and private college associations throughout the country, association officials said.
Lambeth also led the creation of the first nonprofit higher-education multiple-employer retirement plan in the U.S., which currently serves 16 state colleges and has more than $1 billion in combined assets.
“Robert is the most effective and talented executive I’ve ever worked with,” said Phillip Stone, former president of Sweet Briar College and Bridgewater College, praising his “great dignity and effectiveness” in the role.
In 2017, Lambeth was a key proponent for a program that promoted solar energy at Virginia private colleges. The effort was funded by the highly selective U.S. Department of Energy Sunshot Solar Grant Program.
“Robert’s superb leadership for nearly 40 years has had a truly profound impact on the direction and value of private higher education in Virginia and well beyond,” said Robert Lindgren, president of Randolph-Macon College. “Robert is highly respected nationally, and his extraordinary creativity and perseverance have enhanced the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of students and their families in Virginia – all the while earning him the respect and admiration of those with whom he has interacted, from prospective freshmen and parents, presidents and faculty, to governors and legislators alike.”
Member institutions include Appalachian College of Pharmacy, Appalachian School of Law, Averett University, Bluefield University, Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, Emory & Henry College, Ferrum College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hampton University, Hollins University, Liberty University, Mary Baldwin University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Southern Virginia University, Sweet Briar College, University of Lynchburg, University of Richmond, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Virginia Union University, Virginia Wesleyan University and Washington and Lee University. George Washington University is an affiliate member.