University Assistant VP LaMarr Billups died Friday, leaves behind a legacy of service

On Friday, University Assistant Vice President for Business Policy Planning LaMarr Billups died in his home in Virginia. Before coming to Georgetown in 2007, Billups had served as a senior special assistant to the chancellors of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 11 years. During his time at Georgetown, Billups was the chair of the Licensing Oversight Committee, the Advisory Committee on Business Practices and the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration planning committee.

Vice President for Public Affairs Eric Smulson spoke highly of Billups in an e-mail to University staff about his passing:

At the heart of all of LaMarr’s work was a desire to improve the lives of others. His life exemplified a commitment to social justice and being a man for others. He lived these values each day personally and professionally and embodied the best of what Georgetown is.

One of the hallmarks of Billups’ administrative style was his incorporation of student input, especially on issues of social justice. Georgetown Solidarity Committee member Louisa Abada (COL ’12), who met with Billups two days before his death, wrote the following eulogy for Vox:

“Whether you recognize his name or not, LaMarr Billups has been a most inspirational overarching presence in the Georgetown community. If you do, you undoubtedly understand the great loss felt by his death this past Friday. However, if you are just hearing his name for the first time, your loss is equally as severe as that of those of us privileged to have known and worked with him. Not only in his position as a Georgetown administrator, Assistant Vice President on Business Policy and Planning, but also in the core of his character, he was a staunch advocate for social justice and an adamant champion of worker’s rights.

I have known LaMarr through my involvement in Georgetown Solidarity Committee as the administrator on campus eager to engage in issues involving working people’s rights both in our community and internationally. His was the administrative door we had free license to knock on so that we could not only participate in conversations about injustice towards working people but also work to actively correct these injustices. LaMarr encouraged and supported members of GSC to sit on the two committees that he chaired, the Licensing Oversight Committee and the Advisory Committee on Business Practices.  He made it clear that he valued us for our devotion and commitment to undeniably crucial problems in our world – those of labor exploitation, economic injustice, and lack of attention to basic human rights. He recognized the potential of us, as students and active citizens, to implement real, substantial change. We cannot help but revere him for that.

I became a member of the Licensing Oversight Committee this September. Despite LaMarr’s illness and coinciding absence from work, he remained devoted to the committee’s goals of protecting workers. While sick and in the hospital, he replied to my e-mails. He reached out to me before he had even returned to work to schedule a meeting that took place last Wednesday, his second day back at work after six weeks, a hospital stay, and surgery. He was greatly excited about my interest in international labor practices. His response to learning that I’m a senior who will be graduating come May was that it was “unfortunate” and to start a discussion with me about other undergraduate students he could stay in touch with to ensure that important labor issues were kept alive at Georgetown. I left a meeting of the LOC this morning with a fair amount of confusion about how to proceed on a lot of matters that LaMarr would normally have taken the reins on. One thing that is absolutely clear in coming out of that meeting and in remembering LaMarr is that the work that LaMarr did is just as important as ever. He touched the lives of everyone who knew him and of even more people who didn’t. He will be greatly missed.”

Photo: University of Wisconsin

3 Comments on “University Assistant VP LaMarr Billups died Friday, leaves behind a legacy of service

  1. LaMarr was a great guy and will certainly be missed here at Georgetown.

  2. LaMarr was an amazing person. In a university full of administrators out of touch with students, LaMarr was always responsive to students’ and workers’ (on and off campus) needs, even if those needs affected the bottom line of the university or its contractors. I feel privileged to have worked with LaMarr in my time on the Hilltop. He didn’t get as much attention or love as other administrators, but he deserves our gratitude for helping make Georgetown live up to its Jesuit values by being a leader in demanding just working conditions for workers overseas making our licensed merchandise and workers on our campus. You’ll be missed, LaMarr.

  3. LaMarr was a wonderful person and committed advocate for labor rights and social justice. As an administrator and chair of the Licensing Committee at the University of Illinois for many years I came to know LaMarr through his leadership at the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and through his leadership around social justice issues at both Wisconsin and Georgetown. Representatives from colleges and universities across the country come together frequently to share a common interest in improving the working conditions for workers in factories where collegiate goods are manufactured. In those forums LaMarr was a major contributor to the issues under consideration. His contributions there were significant and I know that his wisdom and good judgement, as well as his warm and engaging personality, will be greatly missed by his many college and university colleagues across the country. —Larry R. Mann, Associate Chancellor (retired), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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