1. Publishing with your professor

Chemistry professor Carol Parish calls articles in academic journals “scientific currency.” Professors and graduate students at universities across the country build their careers via their publication records.

At Richmond, undergraduates do, too — which is unusual. It happens because professors across UR emphasize it and position students to be co-authors and sometimes lead authors of published research. “Having that experience sets our students apart,” Parish says.

One of her mentees, Camryn Carter, was part of a UR research team that studied how the COVID-19 omicron variant enters human cells. Carter was the lead author for the study, which appeared in the Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling. She was later named a Beckman Scholar and received a Rising Black Scientist award, both forms of national recognition that support her potential to become a scientific leader. Today, she’s in grad school at MIT.

A student holding their laptop covered in stickers

2. Laptop stickers

3. Our relentless optimism

Kelly Corrigan, W’89, devoted her 2022 commencement address to 67 reasons for optimism. “Optimism is rational and essential,” she said. “Optimists create the future because they see problems as temporary and specific, not pervasive, not permanent.”

Optimism was a great theme for this campus. Spiders maintain confidence that, in the words of President Kevin F. Hallock, “Our best days are ahead.”

Our best days are ahead

4. Classrooms worldwide

Here’s a big number: More than 65% of UR students have a significant international experience before they graduate.

Research and internship opportunities in places around the world are a popular option. Students have recently traveled overseas to study the impact of melting glaciers on ecosystems in the Andes and Amazon; folklore in New Zealand and Nepal; and nonprofit work in Cambodia, among many other experiences.

The EnCompass program provides crucial support to students who are the least likely to have an international experience. It offers faculty-led short trips that avoid common barriers to studying abroad, including finances and academic and athletic schedules.

“Our goal is to ensure all students at UR are empowered to study abroad,” said Martha Merritt, dean of international education.

Students walking abroad in front of landmarks
block print illustration of two people pointing at each other

5. Random Spider encounters

Sure, you’ve happened upon fellow Spiders in airports, destinations, and parties, but you want really random? Read on.

The year was 1946, just after the end of World War II. David Nelson Sutton, a 1915 graduate, was part of the prosecution team for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Pacific Theater’s counterpart to the Nuremberg trials.

He described what happened to him in a letter to this magazine: “I was walking along a street in Shanghai, China, one afternoon the first part of June when a familiar voice called out, ‘Nelson Sutton, what are you doing here?’ It was Jesse M. Johnson, of Richmond [Class of 1922], then an officer in the Army on duty in China.”

Even in 1946, Spiders were everywhere.

An arial shot of the university of Richmond and the City of Richmond

6. The “of” in our name

Ever contemplated the shortest word in “University of Richmond”?

Of is a preposition, of course. Prepositions express relationships. In declaring this university is “of” Richmond, we take pride in our place every time we say who we are.

An arial shot of the university of Richmond and the City of Richmond

7. A location full of possibility

Many leading liberal arts universities are surrounded by miles of farmland. Our hometown is the seat of state government and home to every level of courts below the Supreme Court, plus the Federal Reserve. A short distance away is Washington, D.C., where two Spiders serve in Congress. All of that equals unparalleled business, government, legal, and nonprofit opportunities right in our backyard for Spiders looking to network, land internships, and build careers.

8. Well-Being Center

Dedicated in 2021, it houses — and is — many things: Home to Student Health and CAPS, where students’ physical and mental well-being are tended. A warm kitchen for healthy cooking demonstrations and classes. A Himalayan salt room. A mindfulness retreat. A mediation garden. A workplace for Karla, a certified therapy dog. A place of calm on campus.

9. Spider Road Trips

Talk about career prep. Multiple times a year, groups of students travel with career services team members to connect with dozens of alumni and other professionals. Options include Spiders on Wall Street and Spiders in Silicon Valley.

Logan Anderson, a senior business administration and marketing major, was on a Spiders in Marketing and Communications road trip in January to New York City, where her group visited TikTok, Google, Weiden + Kennedy, NBC Universal, and other companies. “The most special part of the trip,” she said, “was the opportunity to connect with Spiders.”

10. leading in leadership

You know the basic facts: The Jepson School is the world’s first school devoted to studying leadership — as it was, as it is, and as it should be. It was a vision put forth by Robert, B’64 and GB’75, and Alice Jepson: to create a school where multidisciplinary faculty and students dedicate themselves to developing new insights into the complexities and challenges of effective, ethical leadership. The Jepson School recently celebrated its 30th year and 2,000th graduate.

11. Candlelight ceremony

It’s one of UR’s oldest traditions, but it became part of graduation weekend only with the Class of 1985. The students behind the planning had high hopes. “When I come back in 40 years, there’ll still be a candlelight ceremony,” Brian Domster, R’86, predicted in The Collegian.

Next year, he’ll be proven right.


It’s the friendships for us. We’ll always be Spiders. 🥹❤️💙🕷️ #SpiderReunion #URichmond

♬ Traveling On - Andy Gabrys

12.  Reunion Weekend

Commencement might be the biggest graduation celebration, but it’s followed by many jubilees. Each spring, nearly 2,000 alumni and guests gather for Reunion Weekend to mark the anniversaries of their graduations and the lifelong relationships that come with being a Spider. This year’s festivities are May 31–June 2.

13. Mentors who reach back and help up

Mentoring relationships are part of Richmond’s DNA. Here’s one great story: Racquel Francis, ’12, and Marybe Assouan, ’05, met in 2010 when the Robins School paired them for mentorship when Francis was a junior. “Before the end of the mentorship program, I told her she was never getting rid of me,” Francis said.

Today, they’re vacation buddies, walking partners, and support systems for each other — like sisters, they say. For example, Assouan gave Francis a place to stay when her housing plans fell through during a relocation. A few months later, Francis moved back in to care for Assouan after a medical scare.

Mentors come in many forms at UR, whether they’re alumni like Assouan, or maybe a professor, staff member, or even peer. No matter the source, the bonds run deep.