Story by Jeff Lagrone
In the past 13 years, 109 Lander University students have studied abroad at the University of Winchester, in England. The rich history of the city, its closeness to London, the excellent reputation of the university and the affordability of a semester there are some of the reasons why.
The many visits to Lander of Dr. Roger Richardson, Winchester emeritus professor of history, are another.
Richardson, formerly dean of internationalization for Winchester, and more recently a sort of good will ambassador for the university, has spoken before hundreds of classes at Lander, in a sustained campaign to interest students in going there. Last week, he was at it again, appearing before 30 classes over a period of two days, but he doesn’t expect to do it again.
“This is a kind of grand finale for me,” he announced during his final presentation. “This is my last official visit to Lander.”
He thought he was through with the visits in 2012, when he retired and Dr. Alasdair Spark took over his duties as dean of internationalization, but Spark’s “other obligations soon prompted him to cut back on his visits to our campus,” according to Professor of Spanish Dr. Carlos Mentley, director of Lander’s Study Abroad program.
“Because of his relationship with Lander, Roger was able to resume his visits,” said Mentley, adding that “he has been coming to campus every semester for the last five years.”
Winchester is expected to name a new dean of internationalization soon. When that happens, Mentley said, “we’ll be in touch with them,” to establish a protocol “for taking care of official business.”
Mentley was asked what he would take away from his relationship with Richardson, who established Lander’s program with Winchester in 2006, along with former Study Abroad Director Dr. DeWitt Stone, Jr.
“I think it’s been wonderful. I come away from it richer for that experience. He’s absolutely charming,” he said.
Richardson was in fine form during his last night at Lander, describing Winchester as “an incredibly beautiful city, historic city, founded by the Romans 2,000 years ago. You’re surrounded by history, if you come to Winchester. It’s something that’s going to stick in your minds for the rest of your lives.”
The university, he said, is a place “where you can slot in almost straightaway, and feel at home. The University of Winchester, I can honestly say, is a very friendly and welcoming university.”
A question that Richardson has often been asked is whether it’s possible to acquire a good English accent in three months.
“Probably it isn’t,” he said.
Several marriages have resulted from Lander students studying at Winchester, but Richardson said he could not “guarantee that will happen to you.”
He did, however, make another promise.
“Although I’m not going to come in the future doing class visits, every student who comes to Winchester will still have invitations to come to my home,” he said.