When Lou Marmo moved back to Virginia nearly a decade ago, he was looking for a fresh start in his corporate career. On a whim, he emailed Cedric Rucker ’81, then associate vice president and dean of student life at the University of Mary Washington, to ask for advice.
“He called me 30 seconds later, looking to connect me with other people in his network,” said Lou, who soon landed a position on his own. But he credits that conversation with Cedric with reigniting his passion for his alma mater.
“I had donated $50 here and there, but I started to give more to Mary Washington after that,” said Lou, who went on to establish the Louis A. ’94 and Jill Marmo Scholarship five years ago, giving students at Richmond’s Midlothian High School a chance to attend UMW. He and wife Jill later created a second scholarship through local college prep program Partnership for the Future, geared toward students aspiring to study business administration, his own major in college.
“I wanted my community to be more aware of Mary Washington and the kinds of opportunities that exist for high school students,” said Lou, whose scholarship recipient, Zoe Hammond ’23, graduated from UMW with a biomedical sciences degree on May 6.
Receiving the scholarship from Lou and Jill gave Zoe the opportunity to continue her education and helped cover necessary expenses. Next up, she’s applying to dental school. “I’m so excited for my future and feel so grateful to the Marmos for helping me get there,” she said.
Growing up in Holmdel, New Jersey, Lou hadn’t heard of Mary Washington until a family friend put it on his radar. He was sold when his parents told him he could keep his car if he attended college in Fredericksburg, but he also fell in love with the beauty of Mary Washington. “If you can get a student to visit here, the campus is a great selling point,” he said.
Beyond his major, Lou took liberal arts courses like history, geography, and English, which were beneficial as he began traveling abroad for work, he said. “When I visited South Africa, I already had some background on the continent.”
He also got to know faculty members like Leigh Frackelton, Bill Crawley, and the late Dick Palmieri, often hanging out with them outside of class. “Once I entered the workforce, I found that being able to build relationships with adults was an important skillset to have,” Lou said.
Now, as a member of the College of Business Executive Advisory Board, Lou – who also earned an MBA at New Jersey’s Monmouth University – uses his decades of experience as a C-suite executive to prepare Mary Washington students for their own journeys into the business world.
After retiring three weeks before his 50th birthday last year, he visits campus whenever he can and enjoys hearing how his scholarships are setting students like Zoe up for success.
“At this point in my life, it’s all about helping folks,” said Lou, who hopes to inspire others to give. “If you enjoyed your time in college, you can play a part in helping someone else experience Mary Washington.”
Q: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
A: If you’re responsive, decisive, and conscientious, you’ll be ahead of 95 percent of the people out there.
Q: What has been the most meaningful achievement of your career?
A: I was told that you shouldn’t be friends with people who work for you, but building relationships with my team has meant a lot to me.
Q: What’s your most memorable Mary Washington moment?
A: My friends and I were walking back to our residence hall in the rain one Friday around midnight. Ball Circle was a swamp, so we started slipping and sliding around in the mud. I guess we were too loud, because campus police came by and told us to have fun but keep it down!
Q: What’s your favorite spot on campus?
A: The fountain on Palmieri Plaza (named for the late professor) in front of Monroe Hall. My college roommate’s aunt even made a painting of it for me.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I go to the gym, read, network, and serve on a few nonprofit boards. I also spend as much time as I can with my family. I just flew to Barcelona to meet up with my daughter, who studied in Rome this semester, to see Bruce Springsteen in concert with her.
Q: What might surprise your fellow alums to learn about you?
A: I have an MWC Eagle tattoo. Cedric was admiring it at Homecoming last fall, so I got the chance to remind him how much his phone call meant to me.
This story originally ran in the Advancing Mary Washington newsletter and was written by Assistant Director of Advancement Communications Jill Graziano Laiacona ’04.