Written by Mike Koch

Dean Jim Narduzzi is now in his 21st year at UR as Dean of SPCS. Since he plans to step down from this position in June of this year, I wanted to get his thoughts on how SPCS has grown during his tenure, and how the Osher Institute came to SPCS. First I asked Dean Narduzzi what led him to take the position as Dean and what accomplishment he was most proud of at SPCS. He received his PhD in Political Science from American University and embarked on a series of increasingly responsible teaching and administrative positions at American University and the University of Hartford. He came to UR as Dean because he recognized that it was an opportunity to energize the local community and build something meaningful for adults in the Richmond area. While he has accomplished a lot in the past 21 years, he is most proud of building an organization and developing a culture that delivers educational opportunities to the broadest group of adults.

SPCS has seen significant growth since Dean Narduzzi arrived.  For example, when he was hired in 1994, there were five employees; now there are nearly 60 on staff. The number of full-time equivalent students was 130 in 1994, but has since grown to more than 300. There was no full-time faculty in 1994; now there are 13 full-time faculty members. Graduate students now constitute 50% of student enrollment at SPCS, whereas in 1994, there were no graduate students enrolled. The SPCS has received more than 2 million dollars in endowed scholarships.  Twenty years ago, scholarships totaled $5,000; in 2014-15, approximately $130,000 was awarded in scholarship assistance.  The noncredit side has expanded from gender-specific courses offered through the Women’s Resource Center to hundreds of courses offered each semester to learners of all types and ages. 

I was curious how Osher Institute came to SPCS and UR. Dean Narduzzi said that for a number of years, SPCS personnel had been looking at ways to add programs specifically designed for older adults in the community. Dr. Pat Brown, Associate Dean SPCS, attended a conference in 2003 where she heard about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and, after consultation with Dean Narduzzi, made the initial request to participate. In February 2004, the Bernard Osher Foundation approved SPCS’ request and provided initial funding of $100K for the first year, with various goals that had to be met for the next three years before the Foundation would make its final financial contribution in the form of an endowment. UR/SPCS did so well meeting Osher’s goals that final approval was given after only two years, and a one million dollar endowment was made to the University. UR was one of the first private colleges/universities to start an Osher program.

When he steps down in June, Dean Narduzzi will be going on sabbatical for a year. When he returns, he plans to teach courses at SPCS and take (and hopefully teach) Osher courses. We thank Jim for his many and substantive contributions to the University of Richmond and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UR and wish him all the best.