Photograph by Jamie Betts

An invitation

January 31, 2022

Forum

Join me in thinking about how to advance access and affordability on our campus.

By Kevin F. Hallock, president

When my son Tyler came home from high school one day about six years ago and asked me and my wife Tina whether he could go to Paris for a week with the French Club, I immediately wondered whether the trip would fit with our family’s calendar. It seemed like a natural enough response at the time — although Ty wasn’t even studying French — but today, it now stands out to me.

Why? It didn’t occur to me to think about the costs of the trip; I immediately went to the calendar. I’ve been fortunate to have great jobs that have allowed me and Tina to provide wonderful opportunities for our two children. But of course, for many students and families, including at Richmond, the costs of education and related experiences can come at a significant financial sacrifice.

As we approach my inauguration as president on April 8, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about access and affordability. I endeavor for all Richmond students to be able to pursue their educational goals without feeling constrained by costs — just as my son Tyler was able to do.

 

We have more work to do to extend opportunity and offer equity of experience.

How can we meet this challenge and ensure families’ financial circumstances do not limit access to the amazing UR educational experience for both our undergraduates and graduate students?

Inauguration affords us an opportunity to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going as an institution. I’m immensely proud to be part of a community that has worked so hard to empower students of all backgrounds to take full advantage of the education we offer.

Thanks to generations of dedicated and generous Spiders, we stand today as one of the few institutions in the nation that is need-blind in admission and meets full demonstrated need. We’ve also ensured that every undergraduate student is eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $4,000 for a summer internship or faculty-mentored research project through the Richmond Guarantee. And we’ve made important progress in diversifying our university community.

Yet, we have more work to do to extend opportunity and offer equity of experience. We must continue to grapple with our past and acknowledge that our doors weren’t always open to people of all backgrounds. We must create an enormous sense of belonging for all our community members. And we must do more to provide additional aid to middle-income families.

I invite you to join me in thinking about advancing access and affordability and encourage you to think in new ways. Times of leadership change present opportunities to think differently. If you have an idea for how to improve the lives of our students, please tell me. I remain eager to listen and learn from our vibrant Spider community.

Spiders have a rich history of working together to achieve transformational change, including growing Richmond from a small regional university into one of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions. I have no doubt that our community will rise to today’s challenges. Please join me on inauguration day when we celebrate our university and take our next steps toward becoming unquestionably the best small university in the world, where excellence, belonging, access, and affordability are synonymous with the Richmond name.