University of Richmond Update

May 2019

Dear Members of the University Community,

I write you in the midst of a joyful spring full of reminders of how exceptional it is to be a Spider.

On National Spider Day, March 14, alumni capped 10 Days of Spider Pride events by gathering in 19 communities to renew their bonds and share their Spider Pride everywhere from Nashville, Miami, and Chicago to San Francisco, New York City, and even London. Then in April, 2,300 supporters made Richmond’s first Giving Day an incredible success, raising more than $350,000 to support academics, athletics, student life, well-being, the student emergency fund, and more. These remarkable results speak to the power of gifts of every size, and I want to thank each graduate, parent, student, and faculty and staff member who contributed to this extraordinary effort.

Student excellence

I am pleased to share exciting news about a number of national awards our students are earning. These awards reflect the talents and hard work of our students, the dedication of their faculty mentors, and the excellence of a University of Richmond education.

Three University of Richmond juniors received Goldwater scholarships, the preeminent undergraduate award in science and math. Three Goldwater scholars ties UR’s record for the most in a single year, previously accomplished in 2017 and 2007.

  • Lindsey Paul double majors in healthcare studies and biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in integrated science. She works on a research project with chemistry professor Mike Norris focusing on finding new molecules that exhibit unique reactivity with carbon dioxide.
  • Adrian Matthews majors in chemistry with a minor in environmental studies. She assists with a research project related to chemical compounds that will contribute to the pharmaceutical industry. Her adviser is chemistry professor Miles Johnson, a Richmond alum who was a Goldwater Scholar in 2007.
  • Michael Wyatt majors in physics with a minor in music. Under the supervision of physics professor Jack Singal, Wyatt works with algorithms to estimate photometric redshifts and presented his research at the 2019 American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle in January.

Richmond also has its first Beinecke Scholar, Joanna Hejl, ’20. This highly selective award provides more than $30,000 to support graduate studies in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Hejl double majors in American studies and political science and minors in history. She plans to pursue a doctorate in either American studies or history.

Three students and recent graduates received Fulbright Teaching Assistantship grants, bringing the number of student Fulbright grant recipients in our history to 59.

  • Former Spider football kicker Griffin Trau, ’17 and GC’18, will teach in the Czech Republic. Trau graduated with majors in leadership studies and international studies through the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and earned a master’s degree in liberal arts from SPCS. In 2018, the Colonial Athletic Association’s athletics directors selected him as the Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
  • Former Spider swimmer Emily Landon, ’18, will be working with students in Tajikistan. She graduated with a double major in international studies: world politics/diplomacy and Arabic studies and a minor in history. During her time at UR, she studied abroad in Morocco and Peru, where she taught English.
  • Thomas Vanderbeek, ’19, will teach English in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. He graduates this month with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and German studies and studied abroad in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, during his time at UR.

Many more examples of the breadth and depth of student excellence were on full display a few weeks ago at the 34th annual School of Arts & Sciences’ Student Symposium, where more than 300 students shared their research with friends, family, faculty, and peers in the form of posters, exhibits, performances, and oral presentations. Hearing the students describe their research and seeing their performances is always an immensely inspiring reminder of the power of our work preparing these young people for lives of leadership and learning.


Two spring gifts — an estate gift and an endowment — will encourage students who are asking life’s biggest questions and bolster Boatwright Memorial Library.

Marcus and Carole Weinstein and Allison Weinstein and Ivan Jecklin made a $2 million gift to establish the Weinstein-Jecklin Family Endowment: Journeys of Faith and Ethics in a Global Society. Their generous gift will fund chaplaincy-led travel and other chaplaincy initiatives that prompt students to reflect deeply on questions of what it means to be human and how to encourage humanity in others, with the goal of inspiring them to live lives of purpose. Fletcher Stiers, R’48, left the University $2.2 million for Boatwright Memorial Library through his estate. Stiers was a member of the Boatwright Society and Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library and a founding member of the UR Spider Club.

A common thread runs through these gifts: encouraging inquiry and providing the resources to pursue it. We are very grateful to these generous supporters and to everyone who invests in our students’ potential.

Faculty excellence

Richmond faculty continue to receive funding, awards, and publication success that demonstrate that they are leading researchers and teachers in their fields:

  • David Brandenberger, professor of history and global studies, received a Title VIII National Research Competition Grant from the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research for his project “The Leningrad Affair: The Purge of Stalin’s Would-Be Successors, 1949–1952.”
  • James Davis, professor of mathematics, was awarded a National Science Foundation grant in support of “Finite Fields and Their Applications at Simon Fraser University,” a biannual conference series being held this year in Vancouver, Canada, that explores an area of discrete mathematics critical to modern communication.
  • Ashley Austin, assistant professor of accounting, received a grant from the American Institute of CPAs Assurance Research Advisory Group for her research “A Blockchain Halo? The Effects of Clients’ Maturity with Emerging Technologies on Auditors’ Professional Skepticism.”
  • Law professors Luke Norris and Jessica Erickson recently published research on workers’ rights in Fordham Law Review and the discovery process in Vanderbilt Law Review, respectively.
  • Carol Parish, professor of chemistry, received the American Chemical Society Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that our colleagues across campus model the excellence we seek to inspire in our students. With their scholarship, they also help raise the reputation of the University and contribute to national discussions on important issues of the day.


I am excited to welcome Miguel “Mickey” Quiñones as the next dean of the Robins School of Business. Dean Quiñones, who will begin his duties on campus July 1, comes to Richmond from Southern Methodist University, where he is currently the O. Paul Corley Distinguished Chair in Organizational Behavior and Administration and department chair in the Cox School of Business. He is an expert in individual and organizational development and the strategic management of human capital. He was also academic director of the Latino Leadership Initiative. He follows Dean Nancy Bagranoff, who has led the school with skill and dedication since 2010. I am pleased Dean Bagranoff will remain on the faculty as professor of accounting.


Last month, John Hardt, vice president and director of athletics, announced the appointment of Aaron Roussell as the new head coach of Spider women’s basketball. I join him in welcoming Coach Roussell to campus from Bucknell, where he compiled an impressive 102-30 record and led his team to regular NCAA and other post-season appearances. Coach Roussell also brings a strong track record of supporting student-athletes’ academic success at Bucknell and in his previous coaching position at the University of Chicago. This experience and commitment makes him an excellent fit for Richmond, and I look forward to cheering for him and our student-athletes in the Robins Center in the upcoming season.

In January, Director Hardt announced another key hire in the Division of Athletics, the appointment of Lauren Wicklund as associate director of athletics for leadership development. She is leading important efforts to coordinate and implement programming for the Spider Athletics Leadership Initiative, a comprehensive leadership development program for student-athletes, coaches, and staff that is now in its third year. Her efforts are already benefitting Richmond’s student-athletes, as seen, for example, in the February Spider Networking event that gathered more than 100 student-athletes, alumni, and friends of the athletics program for an evening of speed interviewing and networking, helping our Spiders develop the kinds of skills that set them up for success at Richmond and after graduation.

We are also competing well on the field. Women’s lacrosse won the Atlantic 10 championship for the second year in a row, and senior Julie Ball was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Men’s lacrosse was also a repeat conference champion and placed five players on the All-Southern Conference First-Team, tying a school record. Three Spider women’s golfers placed among the top six at the recent Patriot League championship, and junior swimmer Hannah Gouger qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2020. Congratulations to them and all Spider student-athletes on representing us with excellence in competition and the classroom.


This summer, I will again be performing as part of the Richmond Symphony Summer Series. For my performance, I intentionally chose a new and complex piece that I have begun diligently learning and practicing. In doing so, I am following the example of our students and Spiders everywhere, who know that the path to success lies in being open to new experiences, venturing beyond their comfort zones, and pushing themselves to embrace new challenges. When we celebrate commencement this weekend, I believe I will be speaking for the entire campus community when I say that we look forward to sending them forth with the confidence, ability, and determination to achieve the goals they have for themselves now and to develop new goals to pursue throughout their lives.

Best wishes,

Ronald A. Crutcher