Colleagues and political allies remember Richard E. “Dick” Hug as a tireless philanthropist and relentless fundraiser for Republican campaigns.
“He was a pretty uncomplicated man,” said former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Tuesday. “He cared about the state, he cared about the GOP, and he was incredibly philanthropic.”
Hug died Saturday at age 78.
A graduate of Duke University who spent 22 years as president and CEO of Environmental Elements Corp., which specialized in air pollution control systems, Hug was a passionate University of Maryland booster. He served not only on the system’s Board of Regents but also on the board of the University System of Maryland Foundation, said William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the university system.
“He was very concerned about affordability,” Kirwan said. “He was a strong advocate for increased need-based financial aid to make sure students had a chance at a college education.”
Hug’s suggestions were not always popular. In 2003, he proposed doubling college tuition, arguing that the move would make the system less reliant on state money and increase available financial aid.
He also was known for his philanthropic support of the United Way and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Kirwan said.
Hug’s political work included serving as the finance chairman for the gubernatorial campaigns of Ellen Sauerbrey in 1998 and Ehrlich in both 2002 and 2006. He also was Maryland finance chairman for George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.
Ehrlich said Hug was a “relentless” fundraiser.
“Having him on my side was an incredible benefit. He could get dollars out of people who usually gave to Democrats,” he said.
Maryland House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall issued a joint statement Monday on Hug’s passing, calling him a man of tremendous talent whose community service would not soon be forgotten.
“I’m very saddened by his passing and have nothing but the greatest respect for him,” Kirwan said.