Alumni

Forum

You’ll be hosting a series of welcoming events this fall. What’s your main message for alumni during these events?
First of all, I want them to know that I was drawn to Richmond because I felt that the values of this community are the same values that have guided my professional life: a commitment to academic excellence; intensive interaction between faculty and students; faculty and staff mentoring that influences students in profound ways; access and opportunity; educating globally engaged students; and transcending disciplinary boundaries and schools to see the world as it really is and to bring a diversity of perspectives and knowledge to addressing the most vexing challenges of our day. In this sense, Richmond lives beautifully what E.O. Wilson called “fluency across the boundaries.”

I also want them to know that I will be a tireless and enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Richmond. In conversations with trustees, alumni, faculty, students, and staff, I have heard the concern that we are not as well-known for our academic excellence across the country as we ought to be. The opportunity of a presidential transition following an extremely successful campaign and the implementation of The Richmond Promise could be a defining moment or inflection point that invites Richmond to claim its rightful place among the very best private universities in the country.

What have you learned about the University of Richmond in your first few weeks as president that you didn’t know coming in?
I have embarked on a listening tour to visit every division in the University, generally where they are located. During my second week here, I spent three-and-a-half hours at the Gottwald Center for the Sciences observing faculty and student research. Based on my experience, I am convinced that Richmond’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching science puts us in league with the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. In fact, this summer, one of the two premier science journals, Nature, featured Richmond in an article about teaching research skills to high school and college students.

What are your and Betty’s first impressions of the city of Richmond?
We moved to Richmond following our nine-month sabbatical in Berlin. Richmond is a very beautiful city with great restaurants that we have only begun to sample. In many ways, Richmond reminds us of a larger Greensboro, N.C., where we lived for 11 years when we were first married. As a result, Betty and I feel as if our transition here has been almost seamless. We are looking forward to exploring downtown Richmond in particular — Belle Isle, Shockoe Bottom, and so on. We haven’t had time to do much of that yet.

I will be a tireless and enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Richmond.

What sets Richmond apart from other liberal arts institutions?
Richmond’s array of five schools provides us with a great opportunity to distinguish the University. UR is a leader in excelling in liberal education while encouraging and challenging students to work across disciplinary boundaries. In my conversations with faculty and students, I have observed a hunger for still more of this. Currently, we have the health care studies major, focusing on health care and how it is delivered around the world using perspectives from law, ethics, politics, psychology, economics, anthropology, and business. We also have the PPEL major, which prepares students to tackle questions of law and public policy using tools from philosophy, politics, economics, and law. And, of course, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies is a model of the effectiveness of interdisciplinary study, as well as of emphasizing practical application of what students learn in the classroom.

You made your Carnegie Hall debut in 1985. Will we have an opportunity to see you play at the Modlin Center anytime soon?
As many people know, I am a member of the Klemperer Trio, which is based in London. I would like to arrange for my colleagues and me to perform at the Modlin Center in fall 2016. Before then, I am looking forward to playing in concerts sponsored by the department of music. I very much enjoyed performing with one of my departmental colleagues at our annual faculty Colloquy at the beginning of the academic year.

Rumor has it that you’re not only a talented musician, but also a terrific cook. What’s your signature dish? Where did you learn it?  
I don’t really have a signature dish, as I love to cook all kinds of cuisines. However, if forced to choose, there are two dishes that are my daughter’s favorites; I always have to cook these when she comes home for the holidays. One is my root vegetable casserole that consists of yams, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, onions, and garlic cut into small cubes and roasted in olive oil. The other is my mother’s recipe for dinner rolls. She called them “never-fail rolls.” They are melt-in-your-mouth good, and I have actually given them as gifts.