Rodney Harry dies; former president of the VCU AAAC led expansion, left lasting legacy
Rodney A. Harry (B.S.’90/H&S), former president of VCU Alumni’s African American Alumni Council, died Oct. 12 from complications related to diabetes. He was 56.
A Petersburg, Virginia, native and 1983 graduate of Petersburg High School, Harry dedicated much of his life to serving others, including eight years as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, a 30-year career in national security with the federal government and active involvement as a life member of the Richmond (Virginia) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He also served two years on the VCU Alumni board of governors and was an inaugural member of the VCU Alumni Council.
Harry’s volunteer leadership as president of the AAAC demonstrated his commitment to inspiring Black alumni and students. He served from 2014-20, the longest tenure as president in the organization’s 30-year history, and was instrumental in creating programming to keep Black alumni connected to VCU. Today, programs that flourished under his leadership continue the AAAC’s commitment to student development and retention at the university.
“We want students to know that [the AAAC] is a resource for their success,” Harry said in 2018. “I’m proud of what the African American Alumni Council has become and glad that VCU has made such a commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Harry’s service and leadership earned him the 2021 VCU Alumni Association President’s Award for Exceptional Volunteer Service. His nominator, Jackie Tunstall Bynum (B.S.’83/GPA), AAAC member and chair of the council’s program and events committee, described Harry as “compassionate, kind and hospitable.”
“Rodney opened his home to the AAAC, hosting meetings, retreats and watch parties in the spirit of Ram Nation,” she said during the virtual celebration of the 2021 VCU Alumni Volunteer Service Awards in June. “He also opened his heart and extended himself for the betterment of the AAAC and the entire VCU community. He became more than the president of the AAAC — he became a dear friend. The AAAC accomplished so much under Rodney’s administration, and for that, we are grateful and appreciative of his leadership.”
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 22 at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 800 Augusta Ave., Petersburg, VA 23803. The family encourages all men attending the memorial service to wear bow ties in honor of Harry. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Richmond Kappa Endowment Fund Inc. via check mailed to P.O. Box 25553, Richmond, VA 23260.