Hannah, Lauren and Robert Taylor smiling on Lauren's graduation day

A Legacy of Life-Long Learning

May 15, 2018 - Susan T. Burtch

“I think three generations of VCU graduates is rare,” says Robert Taylor, “especially since VCU is a fairly young university. That says a lot about the school in itself.” It also says a lot about the Taylor family.

Robert’s in-laws - Hannah and Lauren’s grandparents – graduated from the School of the Arts in the early 1950s. Granny was raised on a farm in Henrico County and went on to become a music teacher in Maryland. Granddaddy earned two degrees and worked for Bank of America for over thirty years. Both loved music and devoted themselves to community service. When they passed away in 2005 and 2009, they left a rich legacy of education and compassion. 

Harper Sheppherd Darden, BA 1951; School of the Arts
Frances Tiller Darden, BA 1952; School of the Arts
Robert W. Taylor, BS 1983, MBA 2004; School of Business
Hannah Taylor, BS 2014; School of Business
Lauren Taylor, BS 2018; School of Business

A Father’s Influence

As for Robert, he was a first-generation college student. “VCU was accessible,” he remembers. “That was an attraction for me and still is for many of our students today.”

Eighteen years after his graduation from the School of Business, he returned to VCU as director of the Virginia Real Estate Center. “In a way, I circled back to where I started,” he grins. “I took over some of the roles of my good friend and professor, Dr. Jack Boykin.”

In fact, Robert is still close to Boykin today. “Dr. Boykin was faculty advisor for Rho Epsilon. He said we needed to reinvigorate the [professional real estate] fraternity, and I was the one to do it. So, I did. That’s how you build confidence in people – show them you think they can succeed. I try to do that for students today.”

At the same time, Robert may have been unconsciously modeling behavior for his girls. “My daughters were 10 and 6 when they saw me not only working at VCU but going back as a student to earn my MBA,” he says. “I think they picked up on the subtle message of life-long learning.”

School of Business Trifecta

Hannah graduated from VCU in 2014, Lauren graduated this May. Neither spent freshman year at VCU, but both are proud of their degrees. “I started at Christopher Newport, but I got homesick, so I moved back to Richmond,” says Hannah, “and I loved every minute of it.”

Lauren went to J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College for two years, then transferred. “I felt like VCU was always my path,” she says. “I knew I really belonged there. Besides, I wanted to stay close to home, and my father and my sister were at VCU.”

During their years in the School of Business, both girls were active in student organizations. “I joined a sorority there,” says Hannah. “And I got my job at York Risk through my business fraternity. I’m still there today. I really enjoy it.” 

Lauren recalls, “I was in shock when I first transferred, but then I took my dad’s advice and got my act together. I joined the Society for Human Resource Management and became their Recruitment Coordinator. The professors were always willing to work with you, so I embraced what they had to offer.”

“I am glad my children had this opportunity,” says Robert with pride. “VCU and especially the School of Business has been the common thread. I know their grandparents would be very proud of them as well.”