Best alumni network

Making web connections

October 2, 2023

University News

Every year, the Jepson Scholars Foundation provides up to four full scholarships to graduating leadership studies students to attend one-year master's programs at the University of Oxford. When seven Jepson students were accepted to Oxford last spring, alumnus Robert S. Jepson Jr. and his wife, Alice Andrews Jepson, decided to provide for them all.

The Jepsons are among the many generous alumni families who provide students with scholarships or career support, and it’s no surprise that the University of Richmond was recently named by Town & Country as one of “The 15 Colleges with the Best Alumni Networks.”

“We are pleased and proud to see the University recognized for what we know — alumni are such an integral part of our web-building success,” said Denise Dwight Smith, assistant vice president for alumni and career services. “They are open, caring, and enthusiastic in their desire to help students and each other.”

The article notes that 95% of the University’s graduates find employment within a year. The University also consistently receives high rankings in both innovation and internships.

Experiential learning has long been a part of the Spider experience. The Richmond Guarantee ensures that every undergraduate student is eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $5,000 for an unpaid or underpaid summer internship or faculty-mentored research project.

Students meet alumni at the Jepson EDGE Institute.

The magazine also recognized the University as a top producer of Fulbright scholars and students. In the 2022-2023 academic year, two professors were named as scholars along with eight Fulbright students. An additional student was selected for the Fulbright Summer Institute in the U.K. for Summer 2023.

“With alumni engagement, we often think of the financial contribution,” said Shelley Olds Burns, director of the Center for Professional Skills & Development for the Robins School of Business. “However, alumni who share their time and talents for career programs elevate student experiences and outcomes.”

As examples, she pointed to the Robins Mentoring Program, which matches students to senior executives who provide one-on-one career counseling and advice, and the sophomore Q camp, a two-day career readiness conference.

Other initiatives include Jepson EDGE, a professional development program for leadership studies juniors. Alumni and students join for career-focused workshops, speed networking, and a reception.

Arts & Sciences students learn about their strengths, career options, and gain real-world experience at the two-day event, A&S NEXT. At the workshop, students work side-by-side with alumni and faculty as they work to put forth ideas on complicated problems and give presentations.

Alumni support extends beyond the campus. Fifty-two regional alumni groups offer many opportunities for networking and camaraderie.

“Spider alums gather around the country for game watching, presidential receptions, and other fun activities,” said Edward Pruden, who is president of the board of directors of the UR Alumni Association. “Spider alumni truly have a desire to connect with students and other alums, and help them in multiple ways: career advice, job searches, and mentoring, to name a few.”