In Memory of Ivan Zmertych

Ivan ZmertychIt is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mr. Ivan Zmertych, former lecturer in art and architectural history.   In January 2016, Ivan was honoured by the university as an Honorary Fellow. The tribute commemorating this occasion follows:

“Having been born in western Hungary in 1933, Ivan lived the majority of his early life under Soviet occupation.  His early ambitions were to be a concert pianist but those ambitions faded at the end of the Second World War when the new state apparatus took over the schools.  Because his family were not regarded as pro the new administration, he lost his access to a piano and was not allowed to move on to a music academy.  Instead, he turned his attentions towards architecture.

After Moscow’s brutal repression of the 1956 Revolution, at the age of 23 Ivan escaped from Hungary and established himself in London.  He progressed his studies in architecture and, at the University of London’s Goldsmiths’ College, in Art History.  He was offered a scholarship to The Courtauld Institute but didn’t take it up.

Ivan worked as a junior architect for a number of large and prestigious London architectural practices including Ronald Ward, the practice responsible for designing the first London ‘skyscraper’.

At this point he met and married Mari a fellow Hungarian living in London.

Somewhat disenchanted with life as a junior architect, overworked and underpaid with little scope for creative opportunities, Ivan began looking for alternative opportunities.  A friend of his at Goldsmiths, the young art historian Catrine Clay, suggested that he might consider teaching.

Catrine had recently become a founding member of the faculty at a brand new educational enterprise called Richmond College, and she knew that they were gradually expanding their offerings and were looking for art teachers.  Ivan applied and was offered courses in drawing and English art and architectural history.  He joined the college at the beginning of the third year of its existence. Ivan, Catrine Clay, and Noaline Kelly were the Art Department, supplemented the following year by the soon-to-be- famous stained glass artist Alan Younger.

In addition to teaching at the College, Ivan was engaged by AIFS to run study travel programs abroad.  These were arduous!  They often involved taking several coach loads of American students and adults on six week long art-related tours through as many as six countries, giving art history lectures in the stop-over cities, and generally keeping the older members of the group from having heart-attacks in the Roman heat.

When John Dickerson joined Richmond in the mid 1970s and set about establishing new and coherent BA programs in Art History and then in Studio Art, Ivan played an important role.  He was at the centre of a considerably expanded art faculty and range of courses.  He became the cornerstone of the concentration in Interior Design within the Studio Art Degree, teaching taught two levels of Technical Drawing and three Upper Division courses in Interior Design and Interior Architecture.

Although Ivan has taught for other American programs in London, Richmond has always been close to his heart and his contribution has been much greater than simply his role as an instructor.

In addition to his impressive knowledge on a wide range of subjects, it was his personal warmth and evident concern for the wellbeing of his students that made him so special.  He became a substitute father figure for generations of Freshmen who were struggling with the emotional conflicts of being away from home and family, and immersed in a foreign culture for the first time.  It is no exaggeration to say that there are dozens of Richmond graduates out there who would have left the university during their first year if Ivan had not been sympathetic to their situation and set them on the road to becoming acculturated and to prosper.

Many alumni I talk to about their years at Richmond speak of Ivan with heartfelt gratefulness, respect and love.  I recently received an email from an alum who wrote:  “One thing that remained always consistent with Ivan, was that he always, regardless of the time of day, semester, or weather, makes time for you. He stops and leaves everything else aside and is really there for you whenever he sees you. That really meant a lot to me, and to all of us.   As he takes value in being present in its truest sense, he always showed us that every opinion is valid. Even when the entire contemporary art world was raving about the latest Turner Prize winner, he wasn’t even remotely hesitant to differ.  His stance also taught us that every observation is worth attention.”

Ivan continued to teach at Richmond until he retired in 2010.

In addition to being a committed teacher and mentor, Ivan is a devoted family man with two wonderful daughters and three grand children.  Nowadays he gets to spend more time with his books and music, but still travels regularly to the USA and to Budapest and enjoys a strong espresso with his sugar!

If you want to know about the structuring of Gothic vaults, the achievements of the under-valued Hungarian Impressionist movement, axonometric projection, or about the finer points of Schubert sonatas, Ivan is your man.   But his friends and former colleagues here remember most his endearing warmth, great patience, sympathy, liberalism, love of art and his unfailing generosity.

Above everything else Ivan is a great human being who has enriched all of us who worked with him or studied under his guidance.  He richly deserves this honour that the University is bestowing upon him this evening.”

  • Speech delivered by Professor Mary Robert on the occasion of the conferment of Honorary Fellow of Richmond, the American International University in London, to Mr. Ivan Zmertych.  28th January 2016

Second Summer Fellowships for Visiting Faculty, Richmond Rome 2017 Fellows (June 5-16, 2017)

Each summer Richmond the American International University awards up to 5 non-stipendiary Richmond Summer Visiting Faculty Fellowships for existing university Partners and AIFS Affiliates.  For summer 2017 the Fellowship was hosted at Richmond’s Rome campus.

This year’s fellows were:

  • Nadine Braunstein,
  • Sébastien Lazardeux
  • Annu Palakunnathu Matthew
  • Deborah C. Mitchell
  • Marjorie Och
  • Laura R. Olson


AIFS and Richmond successfully concluded the second Summer Fellowships for Visiting Faculty with a symposium held at the Rome campus on 16 June 2017.

The daylong event was attended by Richmond President John Annette, Ailsa Brookes, Senior Vice President of AIFS, Dean Rosanna Graziani of Rome Study Center, Monica Giovannini of the Florence centre and Prof Giuseppe Galigani who chairs the Italian Academic Board.

Additional papers were given by Dominic Alessio, Martin D Brown as well as Rome faculty, Erica D’Amico, Erika Milburn and Antonella Merletto.

Many thanks to all for a highly successful event and a call for next year’s Fellowship will be posted too.

rome fellowshiprome fellowship 2 rome fellowship 3Group photo credits to: David H. Wells

Mr Dennis de Caires

Artist’s Residency at Alice Yard, Trinidad

dennis de caires a tree in the savannahDennis de Caires has recently completed a successful Artist’s Residency at Alice Yard in Trinidad.  Alice Yard was established in Port Of Spain ten years ago and – as a space for creative experiment, collaboration, and improvisation – has a deserved regional and international reputation for the range of its programming and the breadth of its social and research impact.

De Caires used the walls of the Box Gallery at Alice Yard to create a monochromatic painting A Tree In The Savannah in which he explored the particular enclosed nature of the gallery space and the openness of the savannah at the very heart of Port Of Spain.  The Residency also included a public evening session for a wide-ranging discussion that included the wall-painting itself but also extended to current approaches and policies of museums and galleries in the region.


Congregation – Class of 2017


Please have a look at our gallery here.

Congratulations, class of 2017!


Our Honorary Doctorates of 2017:

Sir Alec Edward Reed, CBE, FCMA, FCIPD

Sir Alec Edward Reed is the founder of Reed Executive Ltd, one of the UK’s largest private businesses. He has held several positions during his career at the Reed group of companies and is now Founder at Large. Sir Alec is also a high-profile charity donor and organiser. His first charity was set up in the 1970s and he has since set up a not‐for‐profit residential accountancy college, Reed Business School. In 1985, he established The Reed Foundation, a charitable foundation that serves as the main vehicle for his philanthropic activities. The Foundation has financed numerous charitable initiatives including Womankind Worldwide, Ethiopiaid, Reed Restart at Holloway Prison, Women at Risk and the Alec Reed Academy. His various charitable initiatives have given away over £60 million, mostly in support of women, addiction recovery, overseas development, education and the arts.

Gaia Trussardi

Gaia Trussardi was appointed the Creative Director of Trussardi Group in February 2013. In this role, she supervises all creative aspects for the renowned fashion house, from the conception and development of collections to style and advertising campaigns. Gaia joined in the family business at a very young age. Over the years, she has worked in all areas of the company’s creative and production process – from materials selection to stylistic decisions – gaining great entrepreneurial expertise and perfecting her trend‐setting approach. Gaia Trussardi is currently a member of the Board of Administration of the group. Gaia, who earned a degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Richmond, is a keen observer of lifestyles and trends in various cultural areas such as fashion, society, communications, and music. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Richmond University.

The Right Honourable Lord David Willetts, PC

The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts is the Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation. He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant (1992-2015), as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and previously worked at HM Treasury and the Number 10 Policy Unit. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated with a first class degree. This has allowed Lord Willetts to write extensively on economic and social policy. He is currently a visiting Professor at King’s College London, Governor of the Ditchley Foundation, Chair of the British Science Association and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.


Richmond Hosts a successful first ‘Update TV Skills’ Symposium (22th April 2017)

Richmond held its first ‘Update TV Skills’ symposium on 22 April 2017 at the University’s Kensington Campus, focusing on the latest professional techniques across a changing media landscape.

The well-attended event saw around 60 delegates attend, including faculty, current students and industry professionals. The day began with a welcome from Dr Alex Seago, Richmond’s Dean of Communications, The Arts and Social Sciences and Dan Cherowbrier, Chair of the Royal Television Society’s London Centre before moving onto a series of speaker’s panels and workshops.

The various sessions throughout the day included contributions from Rowan de Pomerai (Head of Flex Digital, Ooyala), Ken Blakeslee (Chairman, WeMobility Ventures), Claire Winyard (Lead Director, Death in Paradise Season 6), Bill Anderson (Chair, Directors UK Fiction Committee), Deirdre Mulcahy (Video Journalism Trainer, BBC Academy), Kristin Mason (Freelance Broadcast Consultant), Muki Kulhan (Executive Digital Producer, Muki International), Kate Kinninmont MBE (CEO, Women in Film & TV UK), Amy Walker (Founder, Media Parents) and Kate Cheeseman (Freelance film and TV Director).

Following closing remarks, delegates and speakers enjoyed the chance to network and discuss the various industry questions raised throughout the day over a few classes of Prosecco.

The symposium was produced by Assistant Professor of Communications and Visual Cultures Dr Nicola Mann and Student Body President Damien Ashton-Wellman in partnership with Terry Marsh from the RTS London Centre, BBC Academy, Women in Film & TV UK and Ooyala.

Update TV Skills forms part of an ongoing partnership between Richmond and the RTS London Centre, launched in 2016 by students and faculty in the School of Communications, Arts and Social Sciences. The partnership utilises joint symposiums, industry panels and student mentoring opportunities for enriching the study of communications at Richmond.

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Richmond ALUM and Professor of the summer British Fantasy class shortlisted for major new literary award

The novel Central Station by Lavie Tidhar, a Richmond alum and former HISTORY major, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award. The annual award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom in the previous year. Central Station, an international and interstellar epic set at a space station in Tel Aviv, has received numerous accolades, including “Best of” selections by the Guardian, National Public Radio, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kirkus, Locus,  and Bestselling author Warren Ellis (Gun Machine) described the novel as “all of science fiction distilled into a single book.” Lavie has previously received the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards. He will be teaching Richmond’s own British Fantasy class this summer.


In Memory of Sandy Petrek

We are sad to announce the death of Sandra L. Petrek, the widow of Dr William J. Petrek, Richmond’s first President who served from January 1980 until December 1992.
Education was a constant source of joy throughout Sandra’s life and she was very active in supporting her husband in his role as President. In addition to her undergraduate and graduate degrees, she had many certifications and while at Richmond gained further certification from the London Montessori Institute where she later became the Vice President. We send our condolences to the family of Sandra and William Petrek, remembering especially their daughter Michele an alumna of the University.