Posted on

TAA Remembers Richard Hull

It is with great sadness that we announce that Richard Thompson Hull passed away on March 15, 2021. A long-time advocate of TAA, Richard was an instrumental part of the association for many years, first serving as Executive Director, then as a staff member, and finally as a member of the TAA Council, the association’s governing board. During his tenure as Executive Director between 2005-2013, Richard eloquently served as the voice and face of TAA, enthusiastically supporting TAA’s mission, programs, and members. Richard also worked to strengthen TAA’s finances, to collaborate with Sisters of the Academy in bringing their members TAA benefits, and to restructure the workshop program. As a Council member, Richard enthusiastically supported the organization as it moved forward with a book publishing program, championed staff, and advocated for more recognition and benefits to be targeted toward our academic author members.

A beloved friend and mentor to many, Richard was a kind and generous man, devoted to helping others and deriving great joy in seeing fellow faculty, students, and others succeed and thrive. He was an influential figure in the lives of many academic authors.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Elaine, Richard’s cherished wife of 59 years, and his family and friends. We thank Richard and Elaine for their major gift in 2020 and for their support to TAA through the years. We will miss Richard dearly and work to carry his legacy forward through TAA’s programs and services. TAA is a better organization because of his continued involvement and dedication.

Read Richard’s obituary here.

Several of TAA Council members, staff, and members shared their thoughts and memories about Richard:

“When I joined the TAA Council and then became an officer, I found a strong mission at work and a strong group identity. Richard Hull is one of the people who built the core strength of the organization and leaves us with that legacy. He was a respected and enthusiastic leader of the organization before my time, yet ever present in the consciousness of TAA. Through this we all benefit from his commitment to the organization. Richard will always be remembered by TAA.”  —Laura Frost, TAA President

“My first contact with Richard came in 2013 after I had been elected as TAA Secretary. Richard called me to congratulate me for a successful election and to discuss the organization’s history and the make-up of the council. He was warm, friendly, and welcoming. Most of all, I could hear in his description of the council and the organization how much he truly cared for TAA. He let me know that he would be stepping down as Executive Director but that he would remain in the organization as an active member. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard in person for the first time at the TAA conference in June 2013 and interacted with him many more times as the years went by. We had meetings together, shared meals together, and discussed TAA business together. The constant in all of these interactions and conversations were his love for academic writing, the TAA organization, and his colleagues in TAA. His impact will carry on in the generations of young writers he encouraged and mentored, and he will not soon be forgotten.”  —Mike Kennamer, TAA Immediate Past President

Richard Hull succeeded me as Executive Director and immediately brought a level of enthusiasm and passion to the job which made me feel that TAA was in good hands.  His commitment to mentoring authors and young scholars was a central focus of his passion.  Richard was especially interested in bringing into the organization graduate students completing their dissertations so that they could become published authors and begin their journey in academia.  This is a legacy TAA continues to embrace.”  –Ron Pynn, former TAA Executive Director and current Council Member

During the 90’s, when I served as President of TAA, I headed up a committee to seek out the first-ever Executive Director from outside the organization. Richard Hull emerged as that person. And it could not have been a better choice. Richard served TAA well as Executive Director, moving TAA forward, growing the organization’s membership and credibility. And he continued in this role after retiring as Executive Director. He will be missed by me personally and by TAA globally.”  –Mike Sullivan, former TAA President and current Council Member

“When I started with TAA in 2013, Richard invited me to stay with him in Tallahassee to help me learn the ropes. During the days I was there, Richard would go over the intricacies of TAA operations; and in the evenings, Richard, Elaine, and a close friend of their family, treated me to home-cooked meals and shared their lives and interests with me. The memory of this most unusual ‘orientation’ to TAA remains with me today, along with my gratitude to Richard and Elaine for their gracious hospitality.”  –Michael Spinella, TAA Executive Director

“In my role as TAA’s Associate Executive Director, I worked closely with Richard for several years. His passion for TAA and willingness to serve as a mentor, especially to early career academic members, made him an invaluable resource to the association.”  –Kim Pawlak, now TAA’s Director of Publishing & Operations

“I had the pleasure of working for Richard at TAA for several years. He was a wonderful and supportive leader and a kind and generous man. TAA greatly benefitted from his ongoing support and enthusiasm. He will be dearly missed.”  –Maureen Foerster, Director of Institutional Memberships & Meetings

“Richard was surely a SOTA fan and we were grateful for his support. His big smile and welcoming voice invited SOTA to partner with TAA with much eagerness and excitement.” –Anna Green, Felicia Moore Mensah, Tamara Bertrand Jones, on behalf of Sisters of the Academy

“Since Michael called about Richard’s passing, I can’t get his smiling presence out of my mind at Council meetings or talking to new authors, and other moments…enthusiastic, earnest, he was like a caring parent. I remember an incident at a TAA annual meeting in San Antonio. My wife and I had donated an LCD projector to TAA—we were always one short at meetings and the hotel rentals were exorbitant. I went to check the setup of the meeting rooms on Thursday evening. There I saw Richard, looking troubled and a bit hectic. When he saw me, he immediately came over, took my arm, quite concerned, and said apologetically that the LCD Projector had disappeared, apparently taken by someone. He was assuming full responsibility, promising to replace or make up for the error. I remember how earnest he was at this moment. A good leader assumes responsibility, expresses compassion, and is to the point with no crap. To me Richard was such a leader. A couple of hours later he phoned my room, as he had still been searching for the projector, and said a hotel security person had taken the projector and several other items and locked them in storage for safe keeping, and would have them all set up in the morning. Richard greeted me in the morning in the meeting room with a warm hug and further assurances. Richard is missed. He was a special man.” —Robert Christopherson, longtime TAA member and former Council member