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University of Richmond Winter Update

March 2017

Dear Members of the University Community:

On an unseasonably warm day here on our beautiful campus, I write to share with you news of important and exciting developments at the University of Richmond.

Forging our Future, Building on Strength
Over the past year, in meetings with faculty, staff, and students, and in conversations with more than 2,500 alumni, members of our community shared their visions for the University’s future. Based on those conversations, we have developed a first draft of the University’s next strategic plan: Forging our Future, Building on Strength.

The University’s mission and the values we drafted together last year provide an essential foundation for our work. A new vision statement reflects the aspirations we hope to achieve over the next five years. The draft plan is organized around five goals: academic excellence, access and affordability, the creation of a thriving university community, enhanced alumni engagement, and stewardship. In each of these areas we have the opportunity to build upon our strengths and remarkable momentum to advance our mission and provide leadership on issues of importance in higher education.

We welcome your comments on the draft plan through our dedicated website. Feedback from the community, which has been so helpful throughout this process, will inform the final version of the plan, which we expect to complete in April.

Ensuring Access for Talented Students
The University’s commitment to access and affordability is longstanding and widely recognized in higher education circles. That’s why we were invited to join thirty of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities as charter members of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), with the shared goal of ensuring that the most academically talented students have access to excellent colleges, regardless of their family's financial circumstances.

Last week I had the opportunity to share some of the University of Richmond’s successes at the inaugural meeting of ATI college presidents, hosted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York. It was an excellent first discussion about the work that we can do together to help students achieve their college aspirations. This month ATI also released its first research paper, which included a profile of Richmond and four other prominent institutions that have been successful in increasing the enrollment and success of low-income students at their institutions. You can access that report here.

Student Wellness and Safety
Colleges and universities nationally are working actively to advance sexual assault education and prevention programs on their campuses, and to ensure that any victims of sexual assault have ready access to all the resources they need. At Richmond, we are continuing to make significant progress on several initiatives with respect to sexual misconduct response and prevention. I named the President’s Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response just prior to the end of the fall semester; members include students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parent representatives. The Committee, which is meeting monthly, is conducting a comprehensive and objective evaluation of the University’s training, prevention, and response efforts, and will make recommendations for future efforts to enhance our policies, procedures, and programs.

To ensure the most thorough and unbiased inquiries, we have engaged independent investigators to oversee sexual misconduct investigations on our campus, and an independent hearing officer to preside over hearings before the University Hearing Board. A new psychologist has also been hired and is adding valuable capacity in our counseling office.

Reaffirming our Values
Over the course of the last month, I have been asked on several occasions how the University will respond to a variety of policies announced by the new administration in Washington, D.C. I want you to be certain that as an institution built on a strong foundation, our core values endure, and we will continue to support and celebrate them. As the information above attests related to progress in the Title IX area, we are committed to doing what we can to ensure the safety of our campus and students. Because the University is nourished and inspired by the diversity of people and perspectives brought together in our intellectual community, we will foster and support an environment that welcomes all those who choose to live, learn, and work here, regardless of their nation of origin, sexual orientation, or gender identification.

Richmond is a place that rejects discrimination in all its forms. Our University must be, and will continue to be, a place that recognizes and values differences. We will embrace our role as an institution committed to advancing knowledge through the active participation of scholars of all backgrounds. Higher education can only flourish when we embrace the vigorous exchange of ideas among people of different backgrounds, traditions, and perspectives. Our University must be, and will continue to be, a place that recognizes and values differences, and rejects discrimination. We can only fulfill our shared purpose when every member of the Richmond community feels safe, welcomed, and valued here.

I am grateful to share this community with you and look forward to our work together to ensure the spirit of welcome that characterizes our University.

Spider Athletics
We are so proud of our athletics program and the success our students have both in the field of competition and in the classroom.

In the fall semester, nearly two-thirds of our student-athletes achieved a 3.0 or better grade point average. The athletics department overall had an average team grade point average of 3.15, matching its highest mark on record.

The women’s swimming and diving team defended its Atlantic 10 title, winning its seventh consecutive conference championship and its 15th championship in 16 years. Our men’s basketball team is tied for third in the A-10 with two regular season games remaining. Men’s lacrosse is ranked No. 14 in the latest Inside Lacrosse poll, with three consecutive wins to start the season. The Spiders host nationally ranked Duke on Sunday, March 5 at Robins Stadium. Game time is noon. Go Spiders!

We have welcomed back to Richmond Head Coach Russ Huesman, who will lead our nationally ranked football program into the future. Many of you will remember that Russ was an integral part of the University’s 2008 National Championship season, serving as defensive coordinator. He spent the past eight years as a highly successful head coach of his alma mater, the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. We are delighted that Coach Huesman has returned to the Spider family.

Engaged Alumni
Since the semester began, dozens of alumni have returned to campus to participate in the Business school’s Q Camp, the Jepson EDGE Institute, and A&S Next, programs unique to Richmond that are specifically designed to help our students advance in their academic programs or prepare for an effective transition into their first professional opportunities. We are so grateful for those of you who shared your time with our students and who are helping our current Spiders to discern their academic path or find internships and professional opportunities in your fields.

We are likewise grateful to all those Spiders who have made a gift to the Annual Fund. The Annual Fund helps to support our students in many ways, including scholarships, faculty-mentored research experiences, and enhanced opportunities for student development. Your gifts contribute to the University’s excellence and the experiences that distinguish a Richmond education.

We also want to thank the nearly 1,200 alumni who led us to victory in our recent “Battle for the Capital” fundraising competition with VCU. You helped us to take the title in this annual competition for the first time in four years. Given the significant size difference in our alumni bases, the response of UR graduates, and our subsequent win, reflects great enthusiasm and loyalty among our graduates.

Richmond Rankings and Accolades
Three of our deans were recognized recently with national leadership positions: Dean of the Robins School of Business Nancy Bagranoff has been named to the Board of the American Association of Colleges and Schools of Business (AACSB); Dean of the Law School Wendy Perdue is President Elect of the Association of American Law Schools; and Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies Jamelle Wilson was appointed by the governor to the Virginia Board of Education. It is a testament to Richmond’s excellence and the quality of our academic programs that three of our deans are currently serving in these prominent leadership positions.

We are happy to see a number of recent publications highlighting the University’s success in providing an outstanding education that is affordable to academically accomplished students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The University ranked #48 on the Top 50 “Colleges that Pay You Back” list published by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review also ranked Richmond #18 on its list of “Best Schools for Internships,” in recognition of the support we provide for students to connect their classroom experiences to professional opportunities. Richmond has also been named to Kiplinger’s list of the Best College Values of 2017. Richmond earned the #17 spot on the magazine’s list of 100 best values in private liberal arts colleges.

A Note of Personal Thanks
It was two years ago this week that I was first introduced to the University community. Betty and I are so grateful to have joined you all, and I consider it a tremendous privilege to lead the University at this special time in our history.

I told the trustees when I spoke with them, and I am ever more convinced today, that the University of Richmond has a unique and important role to play in American liberal arts education. The progress we are making in that regard is significant, as the examples above attest. But it is your dedication to our shared vision for the University that truly enables us to do the remarkable things that are making such a difference in the lives of our students. It is with a sense of great optimism and confidence that I look forward to the many exciting accomplishments that await us, and that will help to propel the University of Richmond, in the months and years to come.

With best wishes,

Ronald A. Crutcher