A Tradition of Pathfinding

October 11, 2017
Jepson School of Leadership Studies founding benefactor remarks on the School's trailblazing legacy

The Jepson School of Leadership Studies started as a dream. Then, in 1992, when the University of Richmond inaugurated the first school of its kind in the nation, the Jepson School became an experiment. Now, in 2017, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies has 1,400 alumni and a dedicated and diverse faculty, and has served as a model for leadership programs around the world.

But in celebrating the School’s 25th anniversary, Robert S. Jepson Jr., B’64, GB’75, H’87, challenged the School’s community to continue to be pathfinders and explorers.

“You have no creative boundaries, no boxes hemming you in, and — if you will forgive the metaphor — we have galaxies to explore and stars to reach,” said Jepson.

When Jepson first approached the University of Richmond with the idea for a school of leadership studies, the concept of the subject was still novel. Pioneering faculty members, such as Joanne Ciulla, Gill Hickman, and Tom Wren, built the framework for the School, writing both curriculums and textbooks where none had existed.

The School’s deans, faculty, and administrators, said Jepson, have created a school that “excited the world” and changed the lives of the students who received “a first class education.” However, Jepson continued, that while the accomplishments of the School, its faculty, and its alumni are impressive, there will always be more work to do.

“Becoming number one is perhaps a heavy burden, for it requires that you run hard and fast to remain the leaders that we are in this field. But what a glorious endeavor, to be embraced and nourished along with others for our mutual benefit both now and long into the future,” said Jepson.

Sandra J. Peart, dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, says the School is eager and prepared to continue its tradition of pathfinding.

“The need for leadership in all walks of life continues to be as urgent as it has ever been,” said Peart. “Leadership — truly inspiring and effective leadership — is more important than ever. The Jepson School must continue to educate the leaders of our future communities, businesses, non-profits, universities, hospitals, sports, whatever groups will exist, and somehow decide the future for us and for those who come after us.”

The School’s anniversary comes at a time of great momentum. The Zuzana Simoniova Cmelikova Visiting Scholar Program in Leadership and Ethics has been recently endowed; the John Marshall International Center for the Study of Statesmanship has received more than 1 million dollars in grant support; and the Richard L. Morrill Distinguished University Chair in Ethics and Democratic Values has been recently established. Additionally, the Jepson School Executive Board of Advisors will collaborate with the Jepson Alumni Corps on an initiative to raise the School’s national and international visibility.

“Our future will be built around new dreams. We have come a long way in creating a positive reality for the University, for the academy, and for our students,” said Jepson. “Our right tomorrow will depend upon our continuing creativity and our continuing innovation.”