The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Quality connections

By the time this column hits print, I'll have finished my last college class.

For many seniors like me, graduation might as well have been a four letter word during the past four years. My friends and I went so far as to give it the Voldemort treatment and refer to it only as "g-wording" rather than graduating. But now that it's here, it somehow seems less daunting.

No, I don't have a job lined up, and no, I don't know where I'll be living in a month, but I'm just not that worried about it. Despite its occasional shortfalls, Richmond has prepared me to enter the "real world," even without the reassurance of a job offer or a clear idea of where I want to be in five years. But the people who have prepared me most for the transition are also the ones who often do the most work and receive the least credit: Richmond's professors.

As the editor of The Collegian and a member of a controversial fraternity-like organization, I've heard just about every complaint about Richmond and voiced plenty of my own. But, with the exception of a select few teachers, I rarely heard or had complaints about Richmond's faculty. That's not only encouraging, it's an indicator of why Richmond continues to be a place where people want to come and don't want to leave.

From my first class on campus to the last, my appreciation for the quality of the Richmond faculty has grown. Sure, professors know how to teach their syllabus and subject matter, but they also know how to interact with their students, encourage creativity and create an atmosphere in which the path to success is not just the student's quest, but a cooperative venture.

All of this might sound like it's right out of a Richmond PR package, but it's true. To me, the single best thing about Richmond is its ability to maintain and attract talented faculty members. Unfortunately, professors also often receive the least recognition for the impact they have on students semester after semester.

Because of the general education requirement at Richmond, I've taken classes with professors of journalism, music, sociology, Spanish, Shakespeare, leadership, law and more. After four years, I can count on one hand the number of professors I would never take a class with again. Considering how many different professors I've had, that's a pretty low percentage.

In my major fields of journalism and leadership studies, that percentage is even lower. The professors in the Jepson School are some of the most impressive and intelligent people I've ever met. My decision to apply to Jepson was one of the best I made at Richmond not because of the curriculum or as a resume booster, but because of the professors I got to meet and form friendships with during the process.

In journalism, even a professor who gave me an "F" during my first semester of freshman year inspired me to work harder and make a commitment to the craft. Despite the department's small size, its ability to attract not only great teachers, but great people, may be its greatest strength.

In fact, the only complaints I've heard about professors on this campus come when one is terminated or decides to leave. It's unfortunate that some administrators feel the need to force out popular professors because of personal interests or biases, but it's just another indication that the faculty, more than anything else, is what makes Richmond such a great university.

So, before I leave these hallowed grounds for who-knows-where, I want to thank all of those professors who have done more than just their basic jobs. We students may not always admit it, but we're lucky to have you.

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