The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Biology professors to leave UR in July

<p>Students enter the Gottwald Science Center, home to the chemistry department.&nbsp;</p>

Students enter the Gottwald Science Center, home to the chemistry department. 

Correction: The information in this article was misreported. April Hill does not know if she is leaving the university. Malcolm Hill took a job at Bates, and she will help him and their daughter move to Maine in July, but did not say that she would not be coming back in the fall.

Biology professors and married couple April Hill and Malcolm Hill will leave their positions at the University of Richmond in July to work at Bates College in Maine.

Malcolm will serve as the vice president of academic affairs and the dean of the faculty at Bates, April said. Even though the Hills were not looking to leave UR, this new leadership role will allow Malcolm to have an impact on undergraduate students, she said.

April currently serves as the chair of UR's biology department, where she has directed a major grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that focused on student success in the math and sciences, she said. 

April also has worked with other faculty members to create various programs such as the integrated quantitative science (IQS) course and URISE, a first-year program aimed at increasing scientific involvement from groups that are typically underrepresented in the field.

In addition to these initiatives, the Hills also co-teach a popular Sophomore Scholars in Residence (SSIR) living-learning community, “Out of the Sea," in which students had the opportunity to study coral reefs in Belize over winter break.

Sophomores Lo Hernandez and Brier Clough, both students in the SSIR, attended the trip to Belize and spoke highly of the two professors.

“[Malcolm] is incredible,” Clough said. “He’s super engaging. Honestly, those two are the reason I stayed at the University of Richmond.”

Hernandez agreed, saying the SSIR course motivated her to stay at UR after freshman year. The Hills also helped Clough realize she wanted to be a marine biologist instead of a forensic anthropologist, Clough said.

Although Malcolm will be starting his new position during the summer, a time that science professors typically spend conducting research with their students, both Hills will continue research with their students via Skype. 

“Even though we’re leaving, we don’t intend to let our current students down,” April said. “We’re going to keep collaborating with them.”

The Hills already made a commitment to their students this summer, and they will honor that commitment, April said. They will continue to mentor their students even while they are at Bates.

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“We have some honor students working on their thesis projects, and we want to make sure that they can continue that work,” April said. “So we’ll Skype in with them weekly and make sure that we can help them with their data and things like that.”

Both Clough and Hernandez emphasized how much the Hills care about their students and how they have impacted their lives. The way the Hills taught the SSIR class was constructive, Hernandez said. 

“I found myself in an academic place,” Hernandez said. “I’m not growing just socially, but intellectually, and as a person.”

The way the Hills interacted with the students made people feel open and safe, Clough added.

For the Hills, it is bittersweet to leave a campus they have been a part of with students and colleagues whom they love, April said.

There are very few people Hernandez has connected with who have made her time at UR significant, but the Hills were some of those people, Hernandez said.

“We’re so lucky and privileged in every kind of way,” she said. 

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