Photograph by Jamie Betts

Hallock on Hallock

September 19, 2021


As Spiders get to know Kevin F. Hallock, Richmond's new president, he responds to the famous Proust questionnaire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
The idea of being in the moment and enjoying that moment. Of simply having appreciation and gratitude for hearing good news from someone in our community and not thinking about what to do next or which next problem to solve. It’s admittedly very hard for me to stay in these moments because I am too busy thinking about what other work I have to do. But I am working on just being.

What living person do you most admire?
David Card. David is an economist at Berkeley now and was one of my Ph.D. advisers at Princeton. As an economist, he is a genius, and if you know him, he is a polymath; he knows tons about tons of things. But what I most admire about him is his generosity as a mentor. He has spent an extraordinary fraction of his time mentoring others. David’s commitment to helping others is something I try to emulate.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Gear. I buy too much stuff for activities that I don’t have time to do. I wish I could tell you that I use this stuff all the time, but I don’t. At least I can say that at a moment’s notice, I can be prepared to go on a long bike ride, go fishing, take photographs, or build a table.

What is your current state of mind?
I am excited. I am super excited to work for the students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the University of Richmond. My family celebrates Christmas, and right now I feel like I did as a child anticipating Christmas. This is not to suggest that we don’t have difficult and very serious work ahead of us, but our university is extraordinary and teeming with great people trying to improve the lives of young people and society. I am simply excited to do what I can to help support making this remarkable place even better.


I am enormously proud of the fact that my son is a firefighter and my daughter is a nurse. They both are devoting their lives to serving others.

What qualities do you most like in a person?
It’s hard to choose just one, so I’ll give you a few: integrity, generosity of time, humility, effort, and humor.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I used to have terrific hair; it was really thick and awesome. Oh, well.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
One of my dogs. My dogs have it made; I know they have zero responsibility, and I am quite sure they have almost no anxiety. They are not worried about what is next. They just are. And they are absolutely delighted to see anyone; they are definitely extroverts, and they definitely put a smile on people’s faces.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Wicked awesome. I am from Massachusetts; I apologize in advance if I use this near you.

What talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to consistently hit singles and doubles in major league baseball in about 35% of my at-bats. And to play third base flawlessly.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d like to be more extroverted.

Where would you most like to live?
On the water. I love being near the ocean, lakes, rivers — any body of water.

What is your most treasured possession?
My greatest treasures are people, experiences, and memories. Although I accumulate a lot of stuff, most of it I could honestly do without. But one of my most prized possessions is something that brings back some great memories. It is the Massachusetts state championship ring I earned with my baseball teammates in high school. I rarely wear it, but I love it. It reminds me that with amazing training and coaching and loyalty to each other, a group of underdogs can do something really special.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being in a place where someone you love is hurting and you cannot figure out how to help them. Not knowing how to help someone in need is extremely distressing.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Tina. I met Tina when we were 4 years old. Our first date was in 1985 as sophomores in high school. We were married three weeks after we graduated from college, at age 22. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year. She is wicked awesome.

What do you most dislike?
Blue cheese.

What is your favorite occupation?
First responder. I am enormously proud of the fact that my son is a firefighter and my daughter is a nurse. They both are devoting their lives to serving others.

What is your motto?
I have two: Chip away, and work hard. Both are just two words, but each is powerful to me. Chipping away is as useful in training for a half-marathon as it is in writing a book or helping someone in need. Many tasks seem daunting, but just getting started — and regular effort — often works. As for working hard, I figure our contributions to society are the result of some combination of our ability and our effort. Given that our ability is largely fixed, the only lever we have is to work hard.