As a student, Robert S. Jepson, Jr., ’64, served in leadership roles on campus.

The experience sparked an idea. As an adult, the visionary entrepreneur wanted to find a way through academics to give students an opportunity to learn about leadership and ethics.  

Thanks to a generous gift from Jepson and his wife, Alice Andrews Jepson, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies opened its doors in 1992 and made the University of Richmond a leader in higher education for leadership studies programs.

This year, the Jepson School is celebrating 20 years. Special events and initiatives will take place throughout the year, including a conference that will give scholars an opportunity to reflect on the work that has been done in the field since 1992 and to imagine the future. 

The School has changed the landscape in leadership studies education over the past two decades, says Dr. Sandra Peart, dean of the Jepson School. “To celebrate 20 years is to acknowledge that we are now creating the second generation of scholarship in the field and developing new ways to influence the conversation.”

Alumni of the School are honoring the milestone by engaging with current students, writing personal stories and contributing to a 20th Anniversary Fund to help current and future students experience leadership firsthand.

Celebrations began in September with a special visit from the Jepsons. They sat in on a class on leadership and economic policy taught by Peart, reminisced and attended a back-to-school picnic for leadership studies students.

Robert Jepson congratulated students on their choice of Richmond and the Jepson School.

“I spent four years here a long time ago, and it was a great four years,” he said. “You made a good choice. You’re going to be well-informed citizens.”

Twenty years later, the School is “even better than we imagined,” he said.

Since the Jepson School opened, it has graduated nearly 1,000 students who work in diverse fields, contributed to the scholarly understanding of leadership, partnered with community organizations, been emulated by schools around the world and hosted community programs that have brought renowned leaders and scholars to campus.  

“It has pushed the walls way beyond what we thought they would be. I could not be more pleased with what has been done here and with the education these students are getting,” he said. “It’s special.”