When the characters of the television show, Dawson’s Creek, began their college search with a campus visit, the producers of the show wanted a location that typified “college.” It was no surprise they chose the University of Richmond, a campus that is so picturesque it could pass for a 350-acre movie set. Any camera angle would reveal a place thick with towering Virginia pines and oaks, benches, a huge green lawn where student study, lay out, throw Frisbees, and even attend class al fresco around the centerpiece, ten-acre Westhampton Lake.
We have the best of both worlds here at Richmond. I always have the comfort of a beautiful, safe, close-knit, and intellectually stimulating community when I’m on campus, but at the same time, I’m only about a ten- or fifteenminute drive away from the amenities and opportunities present in a thriving state capital: Richmond. —Rebecca Sadock, Class of 2005, Business Major, Communications Minor
Founded in 1830, Richmond is the second-oldest private university in Virginia and located only six miles from downtown Richmond. Despite its close proximity to the city, the campus is a world of its own, surrounded by trees and excellent-for-jogging suburban neighborhoods. Richmond began as a Baptist seminary but after about ten years, it added literary studies to the curriculum and began to take the form of a college. Women were first admitted in 1914 and, initially, men and women attended separate colleges under the University of Richmond name: Westhampton College, for women, and Richmond College for men. Today, the University is completely co-educational except that men and women still have separate student governments, enabling more leadership opportunities, and they maintain their own sets of unique traditions.
In addition to a law school and various masters programs, Richmond has three schools of undergraduate study: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Robins School of Business, and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. All students, regardless of their field of study or scholar status, are required to take the freshman-year CORE course, a twosemester class aimed at providing a foundation for their education to follow. During CORE, students read challenging texts by authors ranging from Rousseau to Freud to Toni Morrison. Unless they place out, students also must take a required curriculum touching all the major subjects. The required courses aren’t restrictive and usually turn Richmond students into jacks of all trades and masters of one or two—their major and minors. Double majors are commonplace at Richmond, as are minors and concentrations. It’s not that the course load isn’t rigorous—rare is a night when the library isn’t crowded— it’s just that the students, for the most part, are ambitious.
When students aren’t studying or going to class, there are activities, groups and opportunities for every interest. Even after the first week of school, it’s easy to find oneself overwhelmed with activities, from the Film and Photography Society to the debate team to virtually every intramural sport. There are six fraternities and eight sororities, a weekly campus newspaper, an on-campus FM radio station, four resident a cappella groups, and organizations for almost every religious affiliation, to name only a few. Richmond is also an NCAA Division I, Atlantic 10 Conference school in eighteen varsity sports.
Richmond is the only college in the United States with a spider as its mascot. And, “spider” quickly becomes part of students’ everyday lingo: Spidercard, the convenient debit card for all campus purchases, Spiderbytes (the e-mail bulletin of campus activities), the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, Spider athletics (the intercollegiate teams), and, most important, Spider pride, which most students exhibit on a daily basis.
Like any place of higher learning, the University of Richmond is not for everyone. For people who embrace opportunities, people who feel satisfied by working hard for a cause, academic or otherwise, and people who want a traditional college experience on a beautiful campus—Richmond is the perfect place.
I have a theory that we’ll never know if things worked out for the best, so we might as well assume they did. My choice to come to Richmond doesn’t force me to make that assumption; it was the perfect place to spend what I consider my most formative four years.