In 1989, a Washington Post article about the creation of the Jepson School quoted Dr. Richard L. Morrill responding to a concern that Robert S. Jepson, Jr., raised about education not providing its constituents with a basis for strong leadership. Morrill said, “We have become sophisticated in our methodology…but what does that mean about our compassion? A just society? My responsibility as a citizen? . . . Liberal arts have gotten away from training young men and women to go run society. Our sense of social obligation has been lost.”

Andrew Weisbrodt, 2015–16 Jepson Student Government Association (JSGA) president, pointed to this quote as an example of why the JSGA invited Morrill to be the keynote speaker at the 2016 Jepson Finale ceremony on Saturday, May 7.

Morrill served as the seventh president of the University of Richmond from September 1988 through June 1998 and was closely involved in the creation and launch of the Jepson School. Upon his retirement from the presidency, he became chancellor. Additionally, in July 1998, he became the first scholar to hold the University’s Richard L. Morrill Distinguished University Chair in Ethics and Democratic Values, a position he continued in until June 2004.

In his remarks, the scholar of the history of religious ideas and ethics described the study of ethics as the “linchpin” of the Jepson curriculum, noting conversations with Jepson seniors about their capstone leadership studies course, Leadership Ethics.

Morrill discussed two dimensions of leadership. The first, he said, is the ability to “articulate and formulate the values of a community.” The second dimension, however, is more complicated: the ability to evaluate the worth of those values and wants.

“We’re not in a sphere in which simply wanting is the end place. Leadership studies can test the worth of want,” Morrill said.

Speaking directly to the 2016 Jepson School graduates, Morrill said that a Jepson education prepares students to honor the dignity of every person, to respect dissenting opinions, and to relate theories to action: “You as our graduates will take up your place now in the legacy that is Jepson because now it is within you.”

The ceremony concluded with the recognition of two Jepson faculty members. Dr. Joanne Ciulla, was honored for 25 years of service to the University, and Dr. Terry Price, who will step down as senior associate dean of academic affairs in June, was presented the Jepson School Award for Leadership and Service.

2016 Jepson Finale Ceremony