By Tom Nicholas
April 4, 2013
Congratulations to all those students admitted into our Class of 2017! This year’s applicant pool was our most qualified and competitive ever. If you’ve been admitted, it’s a reflection of an impressive application and extremely strong qualifications.
It also means you’ve probably heard a lot from us in the past year or two, if you’re on our contact list. Like most colleges, we have a habit of bombarding prospects with all sorts of information – so I’m guessing there are a lot of things about Richmond you've heard already. You know that we offer a unique combination of liberal arts, business, and leadership studies. You know that we offer small classes and close faculty-undergraduate collaboration. You know how well our business school is ranked, and you’ve heard all about our strong international and study abroad programs. You've probably also heard about our excellent career services, internship programs, and job placement.
So in trying to come up with my annual list (see previous years' lists here, here, and here), I thought I’d share some less-often highlighted facts that help make Richmond the unique place it is. These items aren't on the front page of our brochures, but they all support and reflect our core mission of providing an unparalleled undergraduate college experience. Here they are – 17 (hidden) reasons you should join Richmond’s Class of '17:
1. Class with the President. When we say that personal faculty attention and our commitment to undergraduate education begin your first semester on campus, we mean it. Our first-year seminars are capped at 17 students and are taught by some of the most outstanding faculty from all five of our schools; and though our President, Ed Ayers (a leading scholar on the history of the American South), is only able to teach one class each year, he's chosen to teach a first-year seminar every year since the program's inception.
2. Living-learning communities. This is "themed housing" on steroids: in our Living-Learning Programs, students not only live around a common area of interest, but take a yearlong course together (taught in the residence hall), complete original research mentored by their faculty hall advisor, and typically go on some sort of national or international trip together (funded by the University). Communities are available for first-year and upperclass students, but the most popular are the Sophomore Scholars in Residence communities. They’ve become so popular, in fact, that we just broke ground on two new residences – one suite-style, one apartment-style – to expand living-learning options for juniors and seniors.
3. The hidden swimming pool. It makes sense to have at least one physically hidden object on this list – in this case, an old indoor swimming pool, now buried beneath the black box theatre in the Modlin Center for the Arts. Theatre majors see it more than anyone else – it adjoins the costume shop in the basement, and it’s now used for costume storage and trapdoor access to the stage above. But the tile surface and lane lines are still intact!
4. Paid research experience. It's not just that we offer undergraduate research opportunities to more than half of our students. It's not just that our faculty are all active scholars committed to involving undergraduates – not graduate students – in mentored research. And it's not just that those opportunities can begin as early as your first year, or that they often cultimate in presentations at national professional conferences. It's that, for more than 150 students each summer, research experience is paid, via generous grants from the School of Arts and Sciences and the UR Summer Fellowships program.
5. Our resident mummy. Ti-Ameny-Net is Egyptian, about 2700 years old, and lives in our Ancient World Gallery. She’s also a great example of the hands-on research opportunities available to our undergraduates – determining the cause of her death and discovering more about her life via DNA analysis and advanced CT techniques was the four-year focus of 2012 graduate Caroline Cobert’s research.
6. Spider Internship Funds. Not only do our students land phenomenal internships in Richmond, across the U.S., and around the globe, but many of them are paid for these experiences – even when the internship itself is unpaid. Spider Internship Funds, along with several other programs, provide this funding, and are part of the UR Summer Fellowships program.
7. Civic fellowships. Similar to Spider Internship Funds, these fellowships (also part of the UR Summer Fellowships program) provide funding for students completing otherwise-unpaid or nominally paid 10-week internships in the nonprofit or government sectors, both in the U.S. and abroad.
8. Vibrant religious life. At Richmond, we pride ourselves on supporting students in all aspects of their lives. Through our Office of the Chaplaincy, this support fully extends to students' faith and spirituality, for those who seek it out. In addition to helping students cultivate their faith and housing seventeen campus ministries (representing all major world faiths), the Chaplaincy provides some amazing opportunities to explore religion and spirituality, most notably through their Pilgrimage journeys. These trips, for the religious and nonreligious alike, allow students to learn more about themselves, their neighbors, and the wider world. Recent and upcoming destinations include Israel, France, Poland, and South Korea.
9. The International Center mandala. If you've visited campus, chances are you've walked through the courtyard of the Carole Weinstein International Center. You may even have noticed the intricate stonework beneath your feet. But you probably didn't know that this mandala pattern includes stones from 48 different countries – one small reflection of UR's interconnectedness with the rest of the world.
10. Study abroad grants and scholarships. We talk a lot about the affordability of studying abroad as a Richmond student – all financial aid and scholarships carry with you as you go abroad for a semester – but we don't often have time to highlight the breadth of opportunities and financial resources there are. All students taking a semester abroad receive an additional travel allowance along with reimbursements for expenses like passport/visa fees and cultural/academic excursions; students can also apply for additional study abroad scholarships. Further, Weinstein Grants are available to help fund research or other projects abroad, during the summer and the academic year.
11. Environmental stewardship. Did you know that every building Richmond has built or renovated since 2008 is LEED certified? That we participate in RecycleMania and the Eco-Olympics each year? That our student club URot actively maintains compost bins on campus, whose product we use to fertilize our community garden? Richmond’s commitment to sustainability is strong, and we’re well on the way to reaching our goal of reducing the University's carbon footprint 30% by 2020.
12. Green… er, yellow… bikes. If you’ve visited campus, you’ve probably seen people riding the yellow bikes around campus. Richmond’s Green Bike bikeshare maintains 35 bikes that are free for students to grab and use anytime, anywhere on campus. If you visit campus for an admitted student day, you’re welcome to avail yourself! (Why the bikes are painted yellow instead of green remains a mystery.)
13. Free sports tickets. Most colleges that can win a national championship in Division I football or send a basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen don’t allow students to attend games for free – but Richmond does! Students here don’t pay a dime to attend home games for all Division I sports.
14. D-Hall themed dinners. Our food is award-winning, but themed dinners take it to another level. From Chinese New Year to Hispanic Heritage Month to the annual Beach Party, you never know what the Heilman Dining Center is going to serve up next. In April 2012, the staff of the dining hall recreated the entire menu that was served on board the Titanic the night before its sinking, to commemorate the event's 100th anniversary. Talk about integrated academics and campus life!
15. Midnight Munchies. While we're on the subject of food... another time-tested campus tradition is Midnight Munchies, which takes place the night before final exams begin each semester. The Dining Hall hosts a late-night snackfest which at various times has been known to include karaoke, cornhole, a bounce castle, and massage chairs, but which almost always morphs into an all-out dance party.
16. Spider Road Trips. More than 300 employers recruit at Richmond every year – but the networking opportunities don’t end there. Our Office of Alumni and Career Services offers 5-7 road trips each year, taking students to cities like Washington and New York to explore career opportunities and connect with employers.
17. Reunions. You’ll spend the next four years creating a home at Richmond. Your experiences, friendships, failures, and triumphs will shape who you are and the people you meet are the ones who will be in your life forever. Coming back to campus for your 5, 10, or even 50-year class reunion to pretend you’re freshman will be the highlight of your mid-20s and beyond. Because who says you can’t go home again?
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.