Faculty members who have served the University of Mary Washington for at least 15 years and who have attained the rank of professor or associate professor are eligible to be considered for emeritus status. This honor, by action of the Board of Visitors, is bestowed this year upon the following distinguished member of the faculty.
Elizabeth Freund Larus, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Emerita
Professor Larus is an expert on the politics of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Recipient of UMW’s Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award in 2019 and a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship grant, Larus spent the first part of 2020 in Poland researching the impact China’s Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the new Silk Road, has had on Eastern and Central Europe.
Larus, who taught at Mary Washington for a quarter century and was the first woman to join the department, received a Ph.D. in government with a certificate in Asian studies from the University of Virginia in 1994. She earned a master’s degree in public administration in 1989, also from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s in journalism from Creighton University in 1983.
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Larus spent three years living and conducting field research in Asia. Her department chair, Professor Rosalyn Cooperman, described her as having “an abiding enthusiasm for all things Asian.”
Larus served as press secretary for former U.S. Congressman Hal Daub, and is the author of Economic Reform in China, 1979-2003: The Marketization of Labor and State Enterprises and Politics and Society in Contemporary China. Her articles have been published in a number of professional journals, and she has written chapters in several books about China. She also has presented the papers “Taiwan after the Global Financial Crisis: Where Do We Go from Here?” and “Taiwan’s Reaction to Global Financial Crisis.”
Larus is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the American Association for Chinese Studies, and the Conference Group on Taiwan Studies. She has served on the editorial board of Issues & Studies and as president of the Virginia Consortium for Asian Studies.
The president may recommend that emeritus status be awarded to retiring administrators and professional faculty who have provided extensive and meritorious service to the University of Mary Washington. This honor, by action of the Board of Visitors, is bestowed this year upon the following distinguished members of the administration.
Anna Billingsley, Associate Vice President for University Relations, Emerita
Since coming to UMW in 2004 after a career in journalism, Billingsley has served in a number of roles.
She has overseen every aspect of University Relations, including media and public relations, marketing, digital media, advertising, crisis communications, design and publications. Through the years she has been involved in brand rollouts, website reworkings, publications large and small, campus crises, and countless press releases and stories.
In this capacity, and in her role as spokesperson, she has become the face and voice of the University to tens of thousands of students and the Fredericksburg community. They have looked to her to share the latest news, to reassure them through tough times and to present the University’s message and mission.
Billingsley earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of William and Mary and a master’s at American University.
Cedric B. Rucker, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life, Emeritus
In more than four decades at Mary Washington – as a student, counselor, confidante and font of institutional knowledge – Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker has left an indelible mark. “My journey has been colorfully lit by engagements, phenomenal people and transformative events that continue to inspire my role as UMW’s Dean of Student Life,” Rucker recently said.
His Mary Washington journey started in 1977 when he became the first Black male student to live on campus all four years before graduation. A Richmond native, Rucker earned a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and served briefly as U.Va.’s assistant dean of admissions before returning to Mary Washington as an administrator and a larger-than-life campus presence.
A sociology major, he has taught the subject at UMW for decades. From his artifact-filled office at Marye House, Rucker has organized orientation, chaired countless committees, and consoled students and their parents – all in indefatigable style. Wearing his signature bow ties, popped collars and over-the-shoulders sweaters, he’s known for handing out Halloween candy dressed as Winnie the Pooh and lovingly aligning commencement regalia for soon-to-be grads.
In a faculty tribute, Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair Kristin Marsh talked about the “outsized role” Rucker plays at UMW. “He is on call 24/7 for our students and families,” she said, and he has been a “lead cheerleader” for the entire University.
In 2019, Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Rucker to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Previously, he served on the state Board of Medicine and was named a “living legend” by Richmond Public Schools. He also has had a significant impact on the Fredericksburg community, serving on boards of museums, schools and other nonprofits.
A world traveler known for his infectious laugh and prolific picture-taking, Rucker will have the University Center named in his honor upon his retirement.