UR President Kevin F. Hallock and students.
Photograph by Jamie Betts

Grateful & ready

September 16, 2021


By Kevin F. Hallock, president

I feel grateful and lucky.

When I was finishing graduate school, a mentor told me that to be a successful academic, I would have to be excellent not only at teaching and research, but also service. That advice resonated powerfully with me, for I had grown up admiring how my mother and father served their community as a nurse practitioner and professor, respectively.

Throughout my career, I have aspired to lead a life of service. That is why I couldn’t look away when I was offered the UR presidency. I felt enormously grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to join a community with the same profound commitment to service instilled in me by my parents.

I have much to learn about UR, but I can plainly see that part of the secret of the university’s success is the staff and faculty’s near obsession with serving our educational mission. I met a Spider parent this summer who credited her children’s rich learning with the deep “access and relationships” they have with their professors. I was moved but not surprised, given that time and again, I have heard from faculty about innovative teaching that undoubtedly inspires students. Good mentors are rare and invaluable, and the Spider community is crawling with them.


Universities can and must serve as models of constructive dialogue, especially across difference.

I am grateful and excited to work alongside UR’s students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends to make this great institution even greater. Today, UR is a leading liberal arts institution defined not only by academic excellence, but also by high standards and strong values, terrific athletics and extracurricular opportunities, vibrant professional schools and community engagement, and the genuine intellectual curiosity I see in so many. I would like to thank my predecessors — and all Spiders — for laying this foundation of excellence, especially President Ron and Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher, who welcomed my wife, Tina, and me with open arms.

I am also grateful for the university’s values, including intellectual curiosity, resilience, integrity, inclusivity and equity, and responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. They align with leadership values I hold dear: integrity, transparency, effort, inclusion, well-being, collegiality, and giving the benefit of the doubt.

On this last one, I believe being kind, caring, empathetic, and patient as much as possible is essential. People are often so busy that we sometimes work at cross purposes and don’t hear one another. Universities can and must serve as models of constructive dialogue, especially across difference. As is often the case in complex institutions, not everyone here agrees on everything — and that is good — but everyone cares and wants to make Richmond even better. I believe the best way to do so is to make it better together.

Thank you, Spider community, for entrusting me to help lead UR in its next chapter of success. I envision Richmond becoming the nation’s best small university, where everyone feels the enormous sense of belonging Tina and I have experienced thus far. It will take patience, perseverance, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt. And it won’t happen overnight. But together we will get there. I am grateful and lucky to be embarking on this journey with all of you.