A painting of the sun setting over Westhampton Lake hangs on the wall of chemistry professor Bill Myers' office. It was painted for him by a former advisee.

The young woman recently graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia and married a classmate.

"They went through the process of matching residencies, with the decision that they wouldn't go anywhere that the both of them didn't get in to, and that the both of them weren't happy with," Myers said. "They both matched at Duke."

He stays in communication with many of the hundreds of students he's advised during his 37 years at the University of Richmond. In 2008, he was given the University's Advising Excellence Award.

Myers first arrived on campus in 1973, and saw that Westhampton College women were in dire need of a chemistry adviser.

"At that time the department was mostly male, and the result was that many of the male faculty members weren't comfortable advising female students here," he said. "So, early on I was advising these young women. I did so until Westhampton merged with Richmond College."

Later, Myers went on to oversee the Ethyl Scholars, young men and women interested in math and science who were awarded highly competitive scholarships to the University over the course of nearly twenty years. He served as adviser to each of the students selected for the honor.

And while Myers says that distracting technology may present new challenges to his current advisees, over the years his method of guidance has remained essentially the same: get students involved and thinking about the future.

"Students need to find some kind of a home here, and what that usually means is becoming part of at least two groups on campus early on," he said. "The purpose of this is simple: When you're walking through the dining room, you have people saying, 'Hello, come sit with us.'

"When you're walking across campus, you have some people say 'Hi, how are you,' and mean it when they ask. I think relatively few of our students think about that. They're thinking about so many other things that this doesn't seem important, but it is."

Myers believes that the job of an adviser is to get students thinking about things that may not seem important right now, an especially challenging task when mentoring first-year students away from home for the first time.

"Students who start to think long-term early are generally going to be more successful," he said. "They’re going to function better. They're going to be happier here. They're going to get more out of their education than the people who think only as far as the next test, the next weekend."

Over the years Myers' advisees have gone on to become doctors and lawyers, earn doctorates, and one even became an astronaut.

He says that the ones he remembers most, however, are the ones who took full advantage of Richmond's liberal arts curriculum, taking classes in diverse subjects and exploring their options.

"That's when you're most successful as an adviser," he said. "You haven't become the person that makes all of those decisions for them. You help students focus on the fact that they do make decisions even when they're inactive. The decision not to decide is a decision."