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Meet the Admission Committee

By Beth Anne Spacht

February 20, 2014

True confession: I’m a huge fan of Tina Fey.  

So when the movie Admission came out around this time last year, I was super excited to watch a movie loosely based around my job featuring one of my favorite leading ladies (if you’re unfamiliar, you can read the IMDB synopsis here).  I went in with low expectations, and will confess that I wasn’t totally in love after viewing.  But, one good thing did come from the movie.  A question suddenly kept cropping up amongst my non-admission friends: “Do you all actually sit around a table and talk about kids like they do in the movie?  Is that what it’s like?”  

Well, the answer is: yes and no.  If you think that admission professionals just sit behind closed doors and dispassionately dole out students’ fates, you have a very stereotypical but ultimately very wrong picture of selective admission.  Although it may sometimes feel like you’re sending your application out into the great abyss, the reality is that there are people – true, living, relatively normal people – who pour over applications, present students to a committee of colleagues, and make an oftentimes passionately delivered case for each of the nearly 10,000 students that choose to apply to Richmond each year.  

We know what’s riding on our decisions, so we read each application with a great deal of care, remembering that each file represents a unique person.  Our combined experience and variety of voices is what makes the give-and-take of selective admission work. So want to know who’s reviewing your application? There are 13 of us (from admission counselor to Dean) sitting on the admission committee at Richmond. Here’s a little more about us, through the lens of the city and institution we call home:

Greater Richmond has a population of more than 1.2 million and is sometimes called a city of “from-heres” and “come-heres.”

3 members of the admission committee are from-heres, born and raised in Virginia. 10 of us are come-heres, hailing from 7 other states and 1 different country (India).  The office also has 4 “almost-heres” on the way (4 of our staff are expecting children in the next few months!).

In 2011, Forbes.com named Richmond one of the 20 Happiest Cities for Young Professionals in America.  

Our 8:1 student-faculty ratio allows students to forge networks with classmates, as well as approximately 45,000 alumni residing in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and over 60 countries.

5 of us graduated within the last 10 years. 3 of us are proud to work for our alma mater.

The Boatwright Memorial Library houses close to half a million volumes of books, more than 100,000 bound periodicals, and thousands of multimedia items.

6 of us have found time to read something beyond applications this winter.  
Our literary interests range from poetry, to novels, to memoirs and professional articles.  Some recent favorites include All Joy and No Fun, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, and The Orphan Master’s Son.

Each finals period, the Office of the Chaplaincy organizes “Study Breaks for the Soul” replete with healthy snacks, chair massages, and best of all – PUPPIES.  

Never fear, you’ll always have a healthy dose of furry friends to keep you motivated even in times of stress.  Check out our latest Spider Diaries blog post to see other ways you can gain access to some good ol’ puppy lovin’ on campus!

9 of us are dog owners.
1 of us fosters elderly pooches.  
Our 13 dogs collectively include mixed breeds, mutts, yorkies, mastiffs, shih tzus, yellow labs and golden retrievers.  Sadly, none of us own pet spiders.

Richmond is a Top 10 most technologically advanced college or university, as voted by Mashable.com

Richmond has a 1:3 computer-to-student ratio.  The entire campus is wireless and all students have access to free cable in their residence halls/apartments. We proudly offer free on-campus tech diagnosis and repair for those odd occasions when your technology has seen better days.  

6 of us are Mac users.
7 of us prefer a PC.  
All of us have used the Help Desk.

The Richmond region has over 900 restaurants with prices to fit every budget.

If there’s one thing being in the admission profession has taught us, it’s that eating alone in a restaurant is perfectly acceptable (see our past blog on travel season).  But, when in Richmond, some of our favorite eateries to frequent include Acacia, Julep’s, Mama Zu, Stella’s, Kuba Kuba, and Toast.

Richmond is one of only three U.S. cities that have sent two teams to the NCAA March Madness Tournament’s Sweet 16.  The University of Richmond Spiders competed in 2011.

1 of us (almost) played college basketball.  
If given the option, 6 of us would exercise.
4 of us would nap.
6 of us hit the snooze at least once in the morning.

University of Richmond is located only 15 minutes away from the No. 1 River City in the nation (Outside Magazine, 2012).  Two annual 5k races are held on campus, in addition to running trails that extend throughout campus grounds and city limits.

4 of us have run in Richmond’s popular Monument 10k race before.
2 of us have run full marathons.

University of Richmond offers over 100 majors, minors, concentrations, and specializations; most college students change their majors at least once before graduation.  

12 of us attended public high schools.
9 of us went to college at least 2 hours away from home.
8 of us majored in the fields(s) we checked on our college application.
7 of us prefer writing essays to taking tests.
6 of us majored in English or Psychology, but our collective expertise ranges from Music Education to Media Studies to Art History to Electronic Engineering.  

0 of us expected to pursue a career in admission.  
2 of us have been in the field for 15+ years.  
Our childhood aspirations included: interior designer, police officer, marine biologist, author, veterinarian, pitcher for the Yankees, and Spiderman (in a way that one sort of worked out).  

University of Richmond students come from 46 U.S. states and more than 70 countries.
13 of us traveled to 810 high schools nationally over the course of 3 months this fall. 7 of us would probably prefer to have a flight delayed over losing luggage, but 1 thing is certain: we’ve all mastered the art of packing for 3.5 week trips in a 22 inch rolling suitcase.

And just for fun; some of our assorted hobbies in a word cloud.  ‘Cause I like word clouds.


Tags: 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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