On Friday Hillary Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine her running mate, a Virginian whose resume includes former governor, Richmond mayor and University of Richmond professor.
Lauded for his inclusive approach to teaching, Kaine is providing hope to some alumni who are disillusioned with this year's election.
"We need someone who's going to listen to both sides, and I honestly think that's a strength of his," said Travis Burr, who took Kaine's class in 2013. "Kaine is a mediator between all kinds of extremes."
Kaine joined the University of Richmond Law School in 1987 and taught as an adjunct professor for six years, according to University Communications. He now holds part-time continuing faculty appointments at the law school and Jepson School of Leadership Studies. He often participates in university symposia and teaches a course called "Leadership Breakthroughs."
"That was not one of the classes I would take any shortcuts," Reilly Moore, RC'11 said. Because Kaine is a sitting senator, Moore said he had extra motivation to perform well. However, the prominence of Kaine's position does not affect how he treats students, Moore said.
"I remember talking with him about potential solutions for trying to solve climate change," Moore said. "He was so open to listening to ideas and didn't act like he knew all the answers."
In fall 2013, Kaine began each week engaging with students. His class was held Mondays at 8 a.m., where he entrenched himself in discussion with young people before launching into his week in politics. According to his syllabus, Kaine arrived 30 minutes early to each class session in case students wished to speak with him.
When Burr was hunting for a Richmond job after graduation, he emailed Kaine for advice. The two discussed Burr's interests and possible opportunities over coffee. Memories like that are what give Burr confidence in how Kaine would run the country.
"He's not one to cut corners because he thinks he knows what's best for the people," Burr said.
Thad Williamson, associate professor of Leadership Studies, has studied Kaine's political background within the context of Virginia history.
"He is one of very few people in modern politics who is both a committed partisan but also capable of earning the respect and trust of those who disagree with him," Williamson wrote in an email. In an op-ed published Sunday, Williamson pushed against criticism that Kaine was a restrained choice for VP, citing his record promoting civil rights as a lawyer and politician.
Kaine has earned a reputation in both the public and private spheres as someone who seeks out underrepresented voices. In government, that voice may be an underserved minority. In class, it's the voice of a typically quiet student.
When Moore first heard about Clinton's choice, he was hesitant to celebrate his former professor's achievement because of the "ugliness" of this election. However, he eventually changed his mind.
"Kaine has legitimate potential at being a presidential candidate," Moore said, thinking beyond the 2016 election. "I endorse 100 percent."
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