Notices sorted by graduation date.

Robert Crews Vaughan III
June 9, 1944—March 6, 2019

Longtime leader of Virginia Humanities dies

Robert Crews Vaughan III (Grad ’70), who led the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for more than 40 years, died March 6, 2019. He was 74.

Robert Crews Vaughan IIIDan Addison

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University, Vaughan taught high school English before moving to Charlottesville with his wife in 1969 to finish his doctorate. In 1974, then-University President Edgar Shannon hired Vaughan as the first executive director of the foundation, now known as Virginia Humanities. He held the position for 43 years.

“He was such a voracious humanist, he didn’t want to stop thinking about the humanities in all its forms, how it could have a lasting impact on our world and for our future,” Matthew Gibson, current director of Virginia Humanities, said in a statement.

Vaughan was committed to facilitating discussion and debate, and he helped grow the organization into one of the country's largest state humanities programs. He was elected chairman of the national Federation of State Humanities Councils and served as president of the National Humanities Alliance.

“He was noble, kind, [and] dedicated," wrote National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Jon Parrish Peede in a statement, adding that Vaughan helped to transform the state humanities council system nationally during his tenure.

Vaughan was especially passionate about the foundation’s statewide, national and international fellowship programs, and about the annual Virginia Festival of the Book.

Upon his retirement in 2017, Vaughan received a commendation from the Commonwealth of Virginia “for his contributions to cultural understanding and tireless work to strengthen the humanities in the Commonwealth and the United States.”

Vaughan also taught classes at the Darden School of Business and was active in the Charlottesville community. He performed with the Oratorio Society and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Piedmont Council of the Arts in 2001. He was the founding president of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

Survivors include his wife, Ellen; three children, Liza Vaughan Coonse, C. Hailey Vaughan Robertson (Col ’95) and Rob Vaughan IV (Col ’09); a sister; a brother; and three grandsons.

—Sarah Poole