A Draft Plan for Richmond

March 2, 2023 

The University of Richmond, approaching its third century, is well-positioned to continue its upward trajectory. We have many advantages, including extraordinary people, unparalleled offerings, significant financial resources, dedicated supporters, and a location within a vibrant city and region. And we have energy and enthusiasm to do great work and create an even more remarkable university.

Our People

Our Richmond Spiders community is the heart of who we are. We have outstanding students, staff, and faculty, and a highly engaged network of alumni, parents, and friends, who share our passion for the University and help us strive to achieve our mission, realize our vision, and live our values. 1,800 people work here, nearly 4,000 study here, and we have nearly 60,000 alumni, parents, and friends — creating a vast, powerful, and interconnected web.

Spiders are driven and engaged, dynamic and connected, determined and supportive. We strive for excellence and continuous improvement in all we do, while looking for opportunities to engage meaningfully and intentionally. We are creative thinkers, problem-solvers and leaders who care about the impact we make, locally and globally. We take care of ourselves and look out for others.

Simply put, our people are smart, have character, do great work, lead purposeful lives, and contribute to and succeed in communities across the world.

Our Offerings

The University of Richmond is a small university with immense opportunities for learning and engagement, inside and outside of the classroom. We have five schools, each connected to and underpinned by a robust liberal arts foundation. We offer an array of academic disciplines and programs — from arts to sciences, law to leadership, business to continuing education — and much more, all on a residential campus.

We offer endless opportunities to discover passions and cultivate interests — whether in the classroom, in the lab, on the stage, in the studio, on the field, or in the community. We provide opportunities to turn theory into practice, including through research, creative production, internships and jobs, and service projects. We have an outstanding Division 1 athletics program, hundreds of student organizations, and many inclusive living-learning communities. 

Our Resources

We benefit from generosity of philanthropy, a strong foundation of resources and a tradition of responsibly stewarding them in service of our mission. We value the trust that has been placed in us by generations of alumni, students, parents, and members of our community. We are committed to the careful stewardship of our resources, and of the relationships that provide the foundation of our university community.

We have a beautiful, well-maintained residential campus. Our academic facilities are world-class and offer space for scholarship and creative work, and there are many buildings and spaces across our campus that facilitate connection, reflection, and opportunities for engagement outside of the classroom. We have an award-winning dining program that nourishes and brings together our community at the Heilman Dining Center and several other locations across campus.

Our Location

Our stunning, wooded campus is at the doorstep of the city of Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are part of a dynamic, diverse region which boasts an array of businesses, government entities, cultural offerings, and a vibrant nonprofit sector. Increasingly our graduates stay in Richmond after graduation, contributing to the advancement of our region.

Our Plan

With the ongoing support of our university community and by strategically deploying effort and resources toward our comparative advantages and five areas of opportunity — our guiding lights — we can build on our momentum and propel our already remarkable university to even greater heights.


We are an academically challenging university known for inspirational teaching, dedicated mentoring, and ambitious scholarship and creative work, grounded in the liberal arts with the added breadth of business, leadership, law and continuing studies. Our teacher-scholar model, combined with small class sizes, high levels of mentoring, and personalized support is distinctive and transformative.

We are an intellectually vibrant community that values curiosity and sees education as a lifelong process of discovery and growth.

We aspire to provide an unparalleled academic environment that offers endless possibilities for learning and engagement. We will be the premier destination and home for outstanding students, teacher-scholars, and mentors.

To become even more academically excellent, we will:

  1. Expand the size of the faculty to strengthen our intellectual community and academic offerings and ensure we can continue to provide the faculty-student engagement that is so vital to the Richmond experience
    1. Recruit full-time, tenure-track and tenured faculty to strengthen our academic programs, our mentoring culture, and our teacher-scholar model
    2. Create additional chaired professorships and faculty fellowships
    3. Explore opportunities for cross-campus faculty cluster hiring in areas of strategic importance, including in health studies, in analytics broadly defined, and in disciplines that help us address grand challenges such as sustainability
  2. Continue to recruit outstanding students and provide them with robust, best-in-class academic resources to support their educational journey here and beyond
    1. Establish and support a state-of-the-art learning center on our campus with centrally located academic resources (e.g., speech, writing, academic skills, quantitative) to equip and connect Spiders with skills and pathways to support their development and make the most of our university’s vibrant intellectual community
    2. Enhance our academic advising program, from orientation to graduation
    3. Constantly focus on strategies to attract, retain and support outstanding students
  3. Retain outstanding faculty and expand support for teaching and mentoring and scholarship and creative production
    1. Continue to invest in the Faculty Hub and build its capability to connect and support our teacher-scholars
    2. Enhance existing (and provide additional) opportunities for faculty development and provide accessible pathways for faculty to obtain resources that will help them excel in their work
    3. Continue to seek out ways to retain and recognize outstanding faculty, including through the awarding of endowed chairs and fellowships
    4. Explore strategies to ensure faculty have more time to advance their scholarship and creative production and advance their teaching and mentoring



We have made substantial strides toward building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive university community, but we have more work to do to ensure that all Spiders feel as though they belong in our web and can fully and authentically participate in university life.

We are a compassionate, caring, welcoming community, and we will become a place where every Spider feels and is seen, heard, and valued, and has someone they can look to for support. All Spiders should have someone within our web who cares about them as an individual.

We aspire to cultivate a university community with an ethos where each of us matters and contributes to and strengthens our web. We will foster thoughtful and respectful interactions with a broad diversity of perspectives and experiences.

Every Spider will feel a sense of connectedness and have a place in our web — whether on or off campus, locally or globally. And all Spiders will be part of creating our future.

To foster a stronger sense of belonging, we will: 

  1. Recruit, retain, and support a diverse, talented university community
    1. Enhance and expand opportunities for student, staff, and faculty development and capability to appreciate and support others
    2. Continue to implement strategies to recruit, retain and support a diverse and vibrant university community
  2. Expand opportunities for all members of the university community to participate in university life and feel a part of our university community
    1. Develop traditions and programming that grow school spirit and facilitate large-scale community building across and engagement with the University
    2. Explore opportunities to enhance existing (and/or provide additional) campus spaces to ensure all members of the university community can fully participate in university life
  3. Develop additional (and enhance existing) pathways for Spiders to experience connectedness and community with affinity networks
    1. Establish additional theme and special interest housing for students
    2. Support flourishing staff and faculty resource groups
    3. Enhance support for programs that help facilitate connectedness and community for students (e.g., those offered through the Office of the Chaplaincy, Student Center for Equity & Inclusion, Center for Civic Engagement, Office of International Education)
    4. Enhance opportunities for alumni and family engagement, both on campus and within our broader Spider network
  4. Develop additional (and enhance existing) opportunities for Spiders to engage across experiences and perspectives 
    1. Expand opportunities for our university community to build and practice skills for engaging in dialogue across differences of experiences and perspectives
    2. Continue to support engagement of the campus community with alumni, parents, friends, and the greater community, including through athletics and the arts


Our university has substantially enhanced access and supported an extraordinary increase in financial aid in the last generation. We enthusiastically welcome talented students regardless of their financial circumstances; we are one of the few colleges and universities that embraces admissions for traditional undergraduates without knowing their financial circumstances and then meets their full demonstrated financial need.

We endeavor to be even more financially accessible for Spiders at all points of the income distribution. We will ensure that families at all levels of financial need see Richmond as not only excellent, but affordable.

We will accelerate our efforts for all of our students to have access to the abundance of opportunities at our university and be able to participate in them regardless of their financial background. 

Richmond will be more accessible and more affordable for more Spiders.

To improve access and affordability, we will:

  1. Allocate significant additional resources toward financial aid
    1. Substantially increase support for students from middle-income families while continuing to provide increasingly generous scholarships for other talented students who demonstrate need
    2. Invest in additional aid to international students to address the additional costs that students experience in seeking their education so far from home
  2. Simplify our financial aid system, thus making it easier for prospective students and their families to know how affordable a Richmond education is
    1. Explore opportunities to implement a less complex financial aid model
    2. Provide (and enhance existing) mechanisms for families to understand the cost of a Richmond education and all of the opportunities that come with it
  3. Ensure that all Richmond students take full advantage of our many opportunities and that financial background is not a barrier to engaging in university life
    1. Consider ways to reduce the cost to students of textbooks and educational materials
    2. Implement strategies that help ensure equity of access to high impact learning opportunities 


We have made significant investments in people and physical infrastructure supporting the resilience and thriving of members of our campus community.

We will build upon our investments in well-being to ensure that students, staff, and faculty find Richmond to be a community of care and wellness that supports their holistic development. 

We will integrate the many dimensions of well-being into the Richmond experience and ensure members of our community are aware of and can easily access our many resources.

We endeavor for all Spiders to thrive at Richmond and beyond and live lives of purpose. Richmond will be a leader in well-being among institutions of higher education.

To enhance well-being, we will:

  1. Explore ways to more fully integrate well-being into the Richmond experience
    1. Explore opportunities to develop and/or enhance existing programs that leverage peer-to-peer well-being support
    2. Continue and enhance our holistic, multi-dimensional approach to well-being. Ensure that we provide many pathways to well-being for our university community
    3. Explore ways to amplify research and scholarship and intellectual opportunities related to well-being
  2. Explore opportunities to expand access to well-being resources for students
    1. Assess and address opportunities for expanding health services available to students on campus through the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  3. Explore opportunities to enhance and support staff and faculty well-being
    1. Continue to invest in competitive pay and benefits
    2. Explore opportunities to provide additional flexibility to staff and faculty
    3. Explore opportunities to provide employees with access to on-campus health care services


Our breadth and depth of opportunities for experiential learning and community engagement are unique among our peers and enhance the Richmond experience. We are a liberal arts institution that provides countless pathways for applied learning and real-world connections, inside and outside of the classroom — from mentored research to our Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, from legal clinics to entrepreneurial ventures, from local internships to careers, from studying culture to studying abroad. We are fortunate to be part of a diverse and interesting region, filled with businesses, community organizations, government agencies, courts, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Our engagement with our region enriches our university and the greater community.

We strive to have meaningful engagement with our local and global communities and pursue and contribute knowledge to our world.

Experiential learning and community engagement will be a hallmark of the UR ethos and experience.

To strengthen our experiential learning and community engagement, we will:

  1. Ensure that all students have access to high impact learning opportunities and that we have the infrastructure to support those opportunities
    1. Explore opportunities to scaffold high impact practices, stitching together existing opportunities and ensuring our students can navigate them. Structure them in a way that students can connect their learning experience and find a mentor
    2. Enhance and support the Richmond Guarantee, giving it an infrastructure that builds on the strength of this unique offering and ensures that student summer experiences are as meaningful as possible
    3. Ensure all students who want to have a community-based learning experience can have one during their time at Richmond
    4. Ensure all students who want to have an international experience can have one during their time at Richmond
    5. Strive to embed all experiential / community-based learning with opportunities for reflection
  2. Invest in pathways that will connect Spiders with skills and experiences that will enrich their educational journey at Richmond and prepare them for careers and to live purposeful lives
    1. Enhance our Career Services and strive to make it best-in-class
    2. Expand access to domestic and international internships for our students
    3. Facilitate meaningful career connections and mentorship opportunities between our students, and alumni, parents, and friends
    4. Enhance our support for on-campus student employment opportunities and ensure those who provide those opportunities are well-supported
  3. Continue to seek out, enhance and grow meaningful opportunities for engagement in our city, region, and the world that enhance our mission
    1. Leverage our location in a dynamic city and region and our strength in international education to provide more opportunities for local-global learning, exploring global problems in a local context (and vice versa)
    2. Build stronger relationships with the greater Richmond business community, government agencies, courts, the Fed, etc. and open doors for Spiders to engage with them
    3. Continue to support our ongoing sustainability efforts and explore opportunities to enhance them