From the Dean
As the school year ends, and we prepare to send the Class of 2013 out into the world, we have many opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of the students in the School of Arts and Sciences.
On April 9, we held the Honors Convocation to recognize our honors students across the disciplines. There, we presented the David C. Evans Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and the Creative Arts to seniors Aleah Goldin (interdisciplinary studies), Alex Hahn (chemistry), and Mary McDonnell (theatre and dance, business). Prof. John Gordon, who will retire this summer after 46 years as a faculty member and leader, addressed the Convocation on the contagious quality of ethics (and the infectious quality of moral failure). His modesty, wisdom, and resourceful spirit will be greatly missed. Senior Sandra Zuniga Guzman (international studies and political science) spoke of the value of a liberal arts education as a lifelong resource for engaging complex problems in the world. The music offered by our students—Walter Beers on piano, and a jazz ensemble of Tyler Tillage, Owen Hutchinson, Mike Haliczer, Erin Good and Blake Dailey—was wonderful. Our students’ gifts and achievements amaze and inspire us. Each time we celebrate the end of their time on campus, we find ourselves refreshed to begin again.
On April 19, we hosted the 28th Annual Student Symposium, which featured over 200 students from 30 disciplines sharing their scholarly pursuits and creative discoveries in the form of oral presentations, posters, and art exhibits. They have done this work under the guidance of committed faculty mentors. As President Ayers said at the dinner following the Symposium, our faculty have the humility as well as the conviction to realize that we don’t know everything and we don’t know enough to imagine that we can exclude our undergraduates from the process of research and discovery. So many of our faculty members include our students in projects that are ongoing in the labs, studios, or libraries. Undergraduates learn best when they are solving a problem, working on a team, or engaged in a creative activity, rather than sitting in a classroom “being taught.” When we shift our focus to student engagement and learning, everyone thrives.
To support engaged teaching and learning, we have begun to update our classroom master plan. A steering committee is meeting with faculty members in small groups in order to assess current and forecast future needs. We are especially interested in informal spaces, or even outdoor spaces that can become sites of education. A learning space can be furnished with movable desks, or lab tables, or walls made of whiteboards. Or, other learning spaces could be sparsely furnished with blackboards, or flexibly furnished with workstations and technology of all kinds. We are exploring many possibilities. Unexpected interdisciplinary collaborations happen here every day, and I want to ensure that our learning spaces are flexible to allow these new connections to thrive.
I am excited to share more about this initiative as it moves forward.
Kathleen Roberts Skerrett
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
The Corporation for National and Community Service has named University of Richmond to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Rafael O. De Sá, professor of biology at the University of Richmond, has received a Distinguished Chair in the Fulbright Science Without Borders program in Brazil.
Dr. Thad Williamson is the author of a report by the Richmond mayor’s anti-poverty commission that identifies ways city leaders can tackle poverty.
Diego Leal, ’15, moved from debating human rights issues to becoming a human rights practitioner during a summer internship focused on conservation and indigenous communities in the Amazon.
University of Richmond has launched a $150 million, 20-month campaign to complete the goals set down by its Richmond Promise strategic plan in 2009.
College guide publisher The Princeton Review has selected University of Richmond for its 2013 list of 75 best value private colleges, praising the combination of academic opportunities of a large research university and advantages of a small liberal arts college.
From television to the stage, Nedra McClyde, ’02, has done the unlikely: establishing an acting career in a challenging but rich market for artists.
Grace Leonard, ’12, who studied anthropology at the University of Richmond, has recently published a paper in The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography.
While capturing the stories of Soviet émigrés for a documentary, Shir Bodner, ’12, reconnects with her family’s heritage.
April Israel, '14, interned at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program this summer to help set the environmental background for her food and agricultural marketing interests.
Shannon Biello, ’13, pursues a double major, conducts research in two disciplines, and studies abroad during her time at Richmond, all with guidance from her academic adviser.
Heather Dunlap, ‘14, found her enthusiasm for physics and theater with the help of some inspirational educators.
Get the buy-in of the village chief before promoting your health care agenda to the villagers, says Sherzel Smith, '13, of her experience working in Ghana this summer.
For Hannah Jacobsen, ’15, the best way to achieve a global perspective is by becoming fully immersed in local cultures and languages while traveling abroad.