By Beth Anne Spacht
October 30, 2015
Each and every Halloween I’m reminded that there are some pretty striking similarities between Richmond and the fictional wizarding school made popular by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Daniel Radcliffe, by the way, was just in town filming his latest movie). I hear this comparison a lot, but rarely does it travel beyond comments on our physical campus grounds. So, in the spirit of the season, here are 10 not-so-surface-level reasons why Richmond is secretly like Hogwarts. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween!
1.) Wizarding Sports (Quidditch)
Competitive Quidditch is flying off the page at UR. Since its founding in 2009, the UR Quidditch team has soared to 5 World Cup appearances (yes, there is a Quidditch World Cup), multiple Virginia state championships wins, and strong finishes in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals of tournaments. Get used to seeing these awesome Spider-spirited uniforms, because it’s not uncommon to find classmates toting brooms and bludgers into the dining hall after a big match.
Photo Credit: Richmond Quidditch Facebook – Four time champs of the River City Invitational
2.) Coursework in Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Herbology (sort of)
You might need a Time-Turner to make it to all of the amazing classes UR has to offer in just 4 years, but there are a few core subjects you won’t want to skip. Brush up on your Arithmancy with a philosophy course on Symbolic Logic; study “Ancient Runes” in Religion 273: Symbol, Myth and Ritual; or bring the History of Magic to life with a course on “Witchcraft and Its Interpreters,” a study of popular magic in early modern England. Whether your interest is Herbology or Astronomy, we’ve got you covered all the way from O.W.L to N.E.W.T.
3.) The Great Hall of Ryland
Tucked away behind a maze of professors' offices and classrooms is an architectural gem: The Great Hall of Ryland. Taking a page from J.K. Rowling’s books, The Great Hall commands instant respect with its professorial yet collegial vibe. While it might make you feel a bit underdressed, the hall is a great place to study. Explorers beware, it is usually locked after hours – best to keep it a secret, as it’s a rare access point to the hidden 5th floor tower just above.
4.) Mischief Managed: Secret Tunnels Under Campus
Even the Marauder’s Map won’t help you to navigate the winding, wily passageways snaking through the underbelly of campus. The current University of Richmond campus was built on the grounds of an abandoned amusement park. Originally designed to encourage use of the city’s first streetcar line, the end-of-the-line theme park housed hidden passageways that enabled employees to travel from location to location without being seen. Today, the tunnels are sealed; but rumor has it the hallways are haunted by the ghosts of performers past.
5.) Aragog = UR’s mascot
Well, not exactly Aragog, but close. The University of Richmond is the only school with enough gusto to claim the Spider as our mascot. Although there’s no shortage of Spider spirit around Halloween, we like to think there’s something special about sporting the fierce foe on the daily. Rest assured, unlike Aragog, Richmond students are part of one big happy Acromantula family.
6.) Moaning Myrtle, or the ghost of May Keller?
The first Dean of Westhampton College, May Keller, was a strict but passionate educator with exceptional standards for her students (see our prior post on the Coordinate College System). Today, the Westhampton Dean’s office is located in the building where Miss Keller once lived and, ultimately, passed. On dark nights, legend has it her portrait comes to life, and mysterious gusts of wind sometimes close the books of students up too late studying in her space.
7.) Yule Ball
Looking for a winter ball where upperclassmen dress up and dance the night away? You got it. Ring Dance is a Richmond tradition celebrating the academic achievements of our junior women. It’s also a time for them to receive an official class ring (thus, the name). Held at the historic Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond, this formal social event is a festive soiree that warms the community during the cold winter months.
8.) Gothic Architecture
Okay, I had to mention campus beauty at least once. The University of Richmond’s trademarked “collegiate gothic” architecture style features vaulted ceilings, looming cast-iron chandeliers, and outdoor archways uncannily reminiscent of Hogwarts. From the central dining hall to the Victorian-inspired Modlin Center for the Arts to the on-campus chapel, pictures don’t do the landscape justice. But here are a few photos just to try:
9.) Caring Headmaster (President)/Professors
In the wise words of Dumbledore, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times” (ahem, finals/midterms) thanks to the constant help and support of UR faculty and staff. Known for their close relationships with students, our 8:1 student to faculty ratio ensures that you’re not just a face in the crowd, but a member of a community invested in your success.
10.) Acceptance letter via mail
Until owl delivery gets more reliable, the US Postal Service will have to do for Richmond’s decision letter notification. On the bright side, there’s less waiting time and a bit more of a predictable notification date of April 1st. But first, be sure to apply by the Richmond Scholars Deadline of December 1st! We hope to see you all at Hogwa-…er, Richmond someday soon!
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.
Beth 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.
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.