Tina Cade reflects on 35 years of supporting underrepresented students

February 15, 2022


She’s described as a movement, a mom, and a mentor. For more than three decades, Tina Cade has led efforts to support underrepresented students on campus. Cade, associate vice president for student development and the director of the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion, will retire in February. 

“I used to say when I started, I was a team of three: me, myself, and I,” Cade said of her first year founding the office of Multicultural Affairs, which expanded into Common Ground, and is now the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion.

She quickly gathered a team of volunteers and staff members who she inspired over the years. One of the most recent additions to the team is Morgan Russell-Stokes, senior associate director for the SCEI.

“We would not have the center without Tina's ability to gather people and have them believe in and work for the vision that she has,” said Russell-Stokes. “Tina Cade is a movement all by herself. I'm looking forward to sustaining the programs she put together. They are necessary for our students to thrive and be successful.”

Cade established the Academic Skills Center, the Oliver Hill Scholars program, and co-founded the University of Richmond Black Alumni Network. She is known as an expert in creating a welcoming campus for underrepresented students and establishing a sense of belonging.

Now, as her career winds down, the University has established an endowed scholarship in her name. A group of alumni came together to create the fund, which will be awarded annually to a student with financial need. The University of Richmond Board of Trustees also adopted a resolution of appreciation for her work in its latest meeting, recognizing her “transformational impact” on generations of Spiders.

Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, has known Cade for more than 15 years and said he has seen first-hand how many lives she has touched.

“She means so much to people as a mentor and as a role model,” Bisese said. “I was able to experience that personally, as well as watch what she does for others.”

“I’m an administrator, but in my essence … I’m a mom,” Cade said. “That sense of protectiveness extends beyond my family, it extends to people that I know. It is that desire to make things better, to make them more comfortable, to help prepare them for a world that’s not always kind. And that is more the mom in me than the administrator.”

Perhaps most notable about her is her tenacious spirit. At 55-years-old, Cade volunteered to be a surrogate for her daughter. She carried and delivered her grand-triplets while working full time at the University.

“I can say we stand as a miracle,” Cade said. “These triplets were never anticipated to actually breathe, and they did. All the odds were against them. And yet they're here.”

Her daughter and son-in-law founded the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation in her honor to provide financial support for families who struggle with infertility to help them have a child. Cade plans on spending much of her retirement working with the foundation and speaking to families who are on that journey.

“One of one of the things I feel a passion to do is to talk to people who have lost hope,” she said. “When you give up hope, it’s a hard mountain. You're in a valley and it's hard to climb out of that valley when you think it is hopeless.”

Those grand-triplets are now 17, and she plans to help them get ready for college, something which she believes she is well prepared for.