The Collegian
Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Hayter gives “Last Lecture” about Richmond Promise

<p>Dr. Julian Hayter speaks to a full audience at Ukrop Auditorium.</p>

Dr. Julian Hayter speaks to a full audience at Ukrop Auditorium.

Students should go into the world and engage in the community, fulfilling the Richmond Promise, Julian Hayter said at the Last Lecture Series.

“Being part of that community sometimes means that you have got obligations to problems that aren’t of your making,” Hayter said.

He defined University of Richmond as a long-established institution that started off as elitist and traditionalist. Throughout the years, its students have been less and less isolated, going out and taking part in the community, thanks to the Richmond Promise.

Hayter said the Richmond Promise was a plan that had been in progress since 2009. One of the pledges states its goals: “A determination to engage as a meaningful part of the Richmond community, of the nation, and of the world, drawing on our long commitment and well-established foundations for such work.

“If students pay attention to the context of this promise, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll have the tools to bear appropriately with the world’s unpredictability and hideousness.”

Hayter said he saw students as the key to change the university to what it is now, as well as “the other Richmond.”

“You are part of that equation, and you’re part of this context,” he said.

The other Richmond is, in the words of Hayter, “a predominantly African American, poor area, surrounded by food deserts,” where there is nowhere to find healthy food. The university has increasingly become involved in the community, not only through faculty or staff, but also through students. Richmond has tried to apply the characteristics of a liberal arts education to the community around it.

“This institution, over the last several years, has assigned all kinds of ways for you to go out and get uncomfortable,” Hayter said. “Test what you learn in unfamiliar places.”

Hayter said he believed that one of the promises of the City of Richmond and of every local government is “making local assets widely accessible to vulnerable communities. Believe it or not, you’re local assets. You’re part of that promise.”

Hayter said, “There’s a difference between being in the community and of the community.” In other words, students should not limit themselves with isolated actions, but should be continuously engaged.

"It was a very thought-provoking lecture,” sophomore Max Thornton said. 

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“I agree with Hayter’s idea that Richmond students should be more involved in the community,” sophomore Evan McKay said. “Implementing the ideas of the liberal arts will strengthen one’s intellect,” he said.

Hayter concluded his Last Lecture by letting students know where they fit into the Richmond Promise:

“We've been given a task in this promise. I sincerely hope that by interrogating Richmond’s complexity, we’ve given you the tools to better navigate the politics of adulthood.”

The Last Lecture Series took place this past Thursday in Ukrop Auditorium.

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