A Visit to the University of Richmond

Collegiate gothic architecture anyone? The view from the University of Richmond’s main quadrangle.

A visit to the idyllic and quaint campus of the University of Richmond on a sunny November morning – can anything quite compete?

The short answer is:  no.

I knew very little about U Richmond prior to scheduling a trip to speak at the Equine Extravaganza event in eastern Virginia, but once my schedule opened up to allow me time to spend some time on campus, I eagerly jumped at the chance.

Most notably, whether due to its proximity to Washington DC, its pioneering strides in the field of Leadership Studies (its Jepson School of Leadership Studies is a model for many!), the service-minded bent of its student body, or a combination of all three, U Richmond is a school for students who want to understand how they can make their world a better place.  (No surprise, really – they do have a tremendous law school on campus.)  Indeed, our tour guide was a true example of this; a senior with his eyes set firmly on law school, he came to U Richmond because he wanted the opportunity to surround himself with classmates and professors who would constantly challenge him to be better.

U Richmond is also home to the only top-ranked business school that’s currently found at a liberal arts university.   How serious are they about business?  Pretty serious, as I can’t name another college I’ve toured that has its own Wall Street trading floor on site!

U Richmond was originally founded as a men’s college, with Westhampton Women’s College joining them across the lake some years later.  To this day, the university is split into two residential colleges – the men are part of U Richmond’s deanery and the women are governed by Westhampton’s, which doubles the leadership opportunities for both genders on campus but still unites them under the same university umbrella academically.  It also doubles the student services available, as the men and the women each have their own dean – and in a school of approximately 3,000 undergraduates, that’s quite significant!

What I really enjoyed about my time at U Richmond was the sense of calm purpose that pervaded every facet – from the continued growth, improvement, and expansion of their buildings and facilities (a new student center was scheduled to open that weekend during Homecoming) to the relaxed but driven demeanor of the students I encountered during my time there.  On a typical Thursday morning on any other campus, one would expect to see harried students rushing to and from class, the dining hall, and the library.  Bicycles would zip past and faculty would bustle about, their arms loaded with course materials.

The dining hall at the University of Richmond straddles (literally!) the lake!

But at U Richmond, I witnessed nothing of the sort.  I saw students in class (average class size at the university is 16 and every class I saw had that many students or less), students grabbing late breakfast or early lunch in the dining hall (many with textbooks in hand), and students studying with laptops and books open in quiet nooks, at library tables, and holding small study groups in lounges.  No muss, no fuss – just genuine determination and poise was the order of the day.

For riders, the University of Richmond equestrian team rides in the hunt seat division of the IHSA.  Because of the suburban location of the university’s campus, they ride about 25 minutes away from campus at Haverhill Farm, a location the team moved to in 2011 (though they were established long before that).  They compete in IHSA Zone 4, Region 1, which pits them against the likes of Goucher College, George Mason University, Randolph-Macon College, and many of the larger state universities of Maryland and Virginia.

All in all, a tremendous visit at a school that impressed me from the first moment I set foot on campus.  Curious to see if it could be the right fit for you?  Contact me and we’ll find out!


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