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My Future Plans

Sept. 23, 2020

Dear Spider Community:

I am writing to share with you that I recently asked the Board of Trustees to prepare to launch the search for my successor, with the goal of the next President taking office no later than July 1, 2022.

Prior to the end of my initial five-year term, which concluded on June 30, 2020, I was honored to accept the Board’s invitation to continue to serve as Richmond’s President. I conveyed at the time that I felt an extension of no longer than two years would be desirable, helpful, and appropriate. Thus, I had anticipated announcing this spring my decision to step down at the end of the 2021–22 academic year. But as I considered the great disruption and challenges facing higher education due to the pandemic, and contemplated what would best ensure the success of a future presidential search and our institutional momentum, I decided that it was important for the University to have as much time as possible to effectively identify and recruit the next President. I have decided to inform you of my plans now so that the search process may begin soon.

I am incredibly proud of the work we are doing as a community.

When I was hired, the Board invited me to be innovative and creative in continuing to advance the high level of academic excellence for which we are known. We have pursued this goal by enhancing the resources available to our faculty, such as our programs focused on academic leadership and our Teaching and Scholarship Hub. At the same time, we have become a more diverse faculty, with 36% of our hires in the last five years being persons of color or international, and 42% being women. We have also increased the quality and diversity of our student population while, concurrently, enhancing the retention and graduation rates of our students. To complement this progress, we have also provided our students access to a range of new programs to enrich their educational and academic experience, including the launch of the Endeavor and Encompass programs. And our $37 million, multi-year investment has transformed our arts facilities and made them a point of pride for the University.

The Board also challenged me to advance the reach and reputation of the University nationally. Through a variety of initiatives such as establishing the Office of Scholars and Fellowships, our national branding program, and a dedicated effort to earn broader recognition of the scholarly and creative work of our faculty, we have made significant progress increasing awareness across the nation and, indeed, around the globe of the academic excellence and stellar quality of a Richmond education. These efforts have also engendered increased pride among our alumni, who are more actively engaging with the University and contributing to historic levels of fundraising success.

And we have made great strides in our work to create not just a diverse community but an inclusive community where every person can participate fully in the life of the University, achieve a sense of belonging, and reach their full potential. Our Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI) initiative is dynamic, comprehensive, and ongoing, moving the University beyond representational diversity as an end in itself. Today, we are working to harness our rich diversity to foster a welcoming campus culture and to build a skilled intercultural community where constructive dialogue across difference is part of our institutional identity. This work can, and must, continue.

Indeed, we have much to do together this academic year and next. Certainly, we will remain focused on promoting the health and well-being of our campus community, and on fulfilling our promise to deliver both in person and virtually the exceptional educational experience for which Richmond is known. We will also continue to advance our strategic plan through a range of meaningful initiatives, from our MEI priorities, such as facilitating meaningful intercultural dialogue, to our academic excellence efforts, such as continued faculty development through the Faculty Hub. And as always, we will strive to be good stewards of the institution, strengthening our intellectual community through such strategic investments as the comprehensive renovation and expansion of Ryland Hall, now underway, which will also add nearly 12,000 square feet of space and allow us to create a new humanities center.

This year will certainly bring challenges, but it will also offer all of us new possibilities. In every instance, we must seize such moments as opportunities to advance our shared aspirations and dreams for the University — and to realize our goal of being, and being recognized as, one of the strongest liberal arts institutions in the nation. That work continues to encourage and inspire me every day, and I look forward to what we will accomplish together over these next two academic years.

At the conclusion of my term as President, Betty and I will return to Berlin, Germany, for a sabbatical year. I will then be honored to return to Richmond in the role in which I began my career in higher education — professor. I will look forward to a return to teaching at that time as a University Professor. Betty and I will always be tireless advocates for the University and its faculty, staff, and students.

For now, let’s continue our important work together.

With gratitude and very best wishes,

Ronald A. Crutcher
President