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Meet the 2015 Admission Committee

By Tom Nicholas

March 20, 2015

What do you think of when you hear the words “admission committee?”

Do you think of ornate boardrooms with mahogany tables occupied by stern-faced professor-types wearing tweed? Do you imagine a courtroom-like setting, with an advocate pleading an applicant’s case before a thoughtful but dispassionate jury? Or perhaps you recall the scene in Tina Fey’s Admission, where students under discussion appear in the room and subsequently drop through the floor when their applications are turned down?

Committee looks a lot different in real life than in our culture’s imagination. Most admission offices review applications electronically now – laptops are in, thick manila folders are a thing of the past. Very few admission officers have the old-school tweed look going on (in fact, we push for casual dress on committee days as often as possible – it’s a lot easier to sit in a small conference room all day when you’re wearing denim). And, contrary to the frequent stereotype, admission officers and admission committees are most passionate about admitting students, not denying them.

If there’s one thing I’d love to communicate to prospective students and parents at this point in the admission process, it’s this: admission committee members are real people, too. Just like you, we have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, professional lives and personal lives. We each bring our unique perspectives to the table, we care deeply about giving every applicant a thorough and equitable review, and we get emotionally invested in the process as well.

Here’s a little more about the fifteen members of this year’s admission committee at Richmond, from the professional to the personal, the educational to the mundane:

  • 6 of us are right-brained, and 6 of us are left-brained. 3 of us are somewhere in between.
  • 6 of us are morning people. 8 of us are night owls.
  • Our dominant hands are reflective of the general population, which is 10% left-handed. 13 of us are right-handed, and 2 of us are lefties.
  • Our tech tastes are particular – when it comes to computers, we prefer PC to Mac 9-6, but in our pocket we prefer iPhone to Android 13-2.
  • In the world of pets, we are decidedly dog people. 9 of us own a dog, while only 1 owns a cat (and that person is also one of the dog owners).
  • Despite working in a profession that requires a ton of public speaking and interaction with people, 9 of us identify as introverts, while only 6 identify as extroverts.
  • Like UR’s student body, we’re geographically diverse. Our home states include Virginia, California, New York, North Carolina, Colorado, New Jersey, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
  • We generally prefer TV to the movies. Our favorite TV shows include House of Cards, Parks and Rec, Bizarre Foods, House Hunters, and Scandal.
  • 8 of us applied to college in this millennium, and 7 applied to college in the last. 4 of us applied to college within the past ten years. Though each of us has read, on average, around 1400 essays over the past four months, only 7 of us remember what we wrote our own college essays about. And we know the sting of rejection, too – 6 of us had at least one of our college applications denied.
  • 4 of us are Spiders by diploma, proud to work for our alma mater. 11 of us are Spiders by adoption, having graduated from other fine, but fewer-legged, institutions. Our college majors cluster around the humanities and social sciences, with Psychology and English being the most represented; however, we also hold degrees in education, dance, art history, and business, among others. 8 of us hold master’s degrees, almost all in higher education.
  • None of us grew up thinking we’d work in college admission. Our childhood career aspirations included teacher, lawyer, author, ballerina, psychiatrist, nurse, air force officer, marine biologist, President of the United States, and Spiderman.
  • In total, we have 184 years of experience working in college admission, an average of 12.3 years per committee member.

Tags: Application Process Inside the Admission Office

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Senior Assistant Director of Admission 


A Richmond alumnus (Class of 2007), Tom has been working and blogging for the Office of Admission since he graduated. He loves his alma mater and the city that shares its name.

Learn more about Tom


Beth Anne SpachtBeth Anne Spacht
Assistant Director of Admission


Beth Anne was a double major at Richmond (English and Latin American & Iberian Studies) and now enjoys helping prospective students discover the best of her alma mater.

Learn more about Beth Anne

The University of Richmond is a highly ranked liberal arts university offering an extraordinary combination of the liberal arts with law, business, leadership studies, and continuing education. The university is consistently named a best value in higher education by leading publications.

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