editor's note

Illustration by Gordon Schmidt

When I tell people what I do at Richmond, one common response I get runs along the lines of, “You must be all over campus.” They don’t know the half of it.

Take this issue of the magazine, for instance.

To help prepare it, I tromped through the mud alongside Westhampton Lake with biology students, donned a beekeeper’s suit behind Cannon Chapel, and dug into newspapers from 1947 in Boatwright Library. After midnight one Friday, I was exchanging texts with a congressman clarifying a couple of minor story details. Before 8 a.m. the next day, I was on the phone interviewing an astronaut.

Others who devote their energies to the magazine’s writing and design spanned similarly wide territory, like tracking down alumni who saw Bruce Springsteen play on campus in the early 1970s or going on a photo shoot on the banks of the James River near where a freak accident paralyzed a 16-year-old who became a Spider with a remarkable story. An illustrator suited up in a beekeeper’s suit alongside me.

Working on the magazine gives us all a unique position for understanding the scale of the opportunities Spiders have and create for themselves as students and then alumni. We get a perspective on the possibilities Richmond offers that’s as deep and as broad as anyone’s on campus.

I have a teaser file with dozens upon dozens of potential stories. For every one that has made the magazine’s pages, there are many others that haven’t. Maybe the timing is wrong, the details still haven’t crystallized, or the idea is too similar to something else we’ve just done. In the end, the reasons all include one common constraint: space. Our pages are finite, but our possibilities feel infinite.

In the time we spend with students, those of us who work on the magazine often get the sense that they feel the same way about Richmond —  that the most important thing UR offers, more than any particular major, program, or club, is seemingly infinite possibility. Our liberal arts foundation supports students’ ambitious explorations of the paths that interest them. Our resources, thanks in part to generations of generous alumni, give students the capacity and skills for discovery — of knowledge, of meaning, and of themselves and their futures. The stories of alumni bear witness to this enduring power.

As I cross paths with editors at other alumni magazines, I am occasionally asked how we come up with enough story ideas at Richmond. The question always surprises me. Spiders will always have far more stories to tell than we have space to tell them.