President Kevin Hallock
Photograph by Mollie McClure

A scale-tipping impact

November 2, 2023


A named chair or professorship is a major honor for faculty — and an example of how philanthropic support makes a big impact on students.
By Kevin F. Hallock, president

At an event called Colloquy at the start of each academic year, we recognize outstanding faculty achievement in teaching and scholarship. We also honor esteemed faculty with named, endowed appointments. And we welcome new and visiting faculty into our vibrant intellectual community. Elevating and expanding our faculty enhances our university’s academic expertise; increases opportunities for Spiders to learn, collaborate, and explore; and creates additional pathways for future careers. This year, after hearing the reflections of our distinguished educators and scholars, recognizing those at the top of their fields, and engaging with our newest colleagues, I’ve found myself even more confident about UR’s trajectory.

During her reflection for the Distinguished Educator Award, Cassandra Marshall, associate professor of finance, said that she strives “to make topics interesting and relevant to everyone in the room” and “to teach with an optimal amount of rigor that encourages growth with some level of discomfort and plenty of room for students to learn from their mistakes.” Fellow awardee Meredith J. Harbach, a professor of law, said she loves watching students grow “over the journeys of a semester, the spans of their law school experience, and the arcs of their careers.” Each of these statements highlights a critical strength that drew me here and, I believe, draws many to Richmond. Total commitment to our students is a hallmark of the UR educational experience.

Eight Richmond faculty in various disciplines — from cosmology to corporate governance to Near Eastern studies — were also recognized for recent promotions to named positions with endowed chairs and professorships. These faculty have significantly impacted their fields while innovating in the classroom, mentoring students, serving in leadership roles, publishing research, and receiving millions of dollars in external grant funding. A named position is a big deal in higher education and is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow. I am delighted and grateful we have had so much philanthropic support to fund these positions at Richmond.

Total commitment to our students is a hallmark of the UR educational experience.

Meanwhile, infusions of expertise positively impact UR’s growing and emergent disciplines. This fall, we welcomed 34 new and visiting faculty to expand teaching and research opportunities. Two of these faculty, Courtney Blondino and Margaret Tait, joined our burgeoning health studies department. As a discipline, health studies equips students with frameworks for understanding the cultural, economic, legal, and other contexts that shape individual and population health. Increased access to these offerings will strengthen pathways to careers in medicine, public health, and healthcare management.

As we strive to make our university even more remarkable, we will continue doing all of this and more. Guided by our strategic plan, we will increase our capacity to support and recognize outstanding faculty achievements, honor world-class faculty at the top of their fields, and identify academic areas where an infusion of new expertise can have a scale-tipping impact on the intellectual vibrancy of our community and the educational experience of our students. I am grateful for your partnership as we continue this journey, and I have so much confidence in what we can achieve together.