The Collegian
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Director of law admissions dies, remembered for his commitment to helping students

<p>The University of Richmond flag flies at half-staff.&nbsp;</p>

The University of Richmond flag flies at half-staff. 

Jay Jorgensen, director of admissions of University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law — who was admired for his passion for higher education, care for students and humor — died last week, according to a May 8 email to UR students, faculty and staff.

Jorgensen died in his sleep the night of May 6, according to the email, which was sent by Craig Kocher, the UR chaplain. Jorgensen began working at UR in August 2012, Kocher wrote.  

“During his eight years at Richmond, Mr. Jorgensen was an integral part of the Law Admissions team, and his care for students, good humor, and love for the law school were evident in his work,” Kocher wrote. “Jay served as Associate Director of Law Admissions from August 2012 to July 2015, when he became the Director of Law Admissions. In this role, Jay spent every fall traveling the country personally meeting prospective students while managing the admissions process from recruitment and evaluation of applications to decision-making.”

Kocher wrote that Jorgensen’s death was not related to COVID-19.

Michelle Heck, associate dean of admissions of the law school, wrote in an email to The Collegian that Jorgensen was one of the kindest, most genuine and fiercest friends someone could have.

“He sincerely had the kindest soul and would do anything for anyone,” Heck wrote.

Heck wrote that Jorgensen was dedicated to the students he worked with and to the UR law school. 

“He worked with so many students over the years from helping them with applications to calling them to admit them into Law School,” Heck wrote. “He has touched numerous lives. Every student he worked with he would give the encouragement that they could do anything. If their dream was law school he was going to help them in any way possible. His passion for higher education and Richmond Law were so powerful. He loved everything about this place.”

Heck recalled how Jorgensen helped foster a friendly environment.

“Jay was one who always liked to see others smile,” Heck wrote. “We could be in any meeting and he would always say something to make us laugh and smile. No matter what the circumstances, Jay wanted to make sure others felt comfortable. He loved his friends in a way you just don’t see. He is going to be missed so very much.”

Brandon Metheny, law school assistant director of admissions and enrollment analytics, echoed Heck and said that Jorgensen helped maintain a positive atmosphere in the law school. 

“My favorite thing about him is that he had the greatest laugh,” Metheny said. “It was this really, like, you could tell he was laughing from in his soul, and when he started laughing it was just infectious, and it would make everyone start laughing.”

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Metheny said Jorgensen had been instrumental in making the law school a better place. 

“People came into his office to meet with him, to ask questions, and he was fair and had time for everybody and no one ever left feeling like they were just getting the sales pitch,” Metheny said. “… There was never a situation where he was just going through the motions.”

In addition to his skills in admissions, Metheny said Jorgensen had a vast knowledge of English history and recalled fond memories of Jorgensen telling stories about England in ways that made places and events come to life. 

“It was so much fun to sit there and talk with him and hear these stories,” Metheny said. “And he was the kind of person you could just sit and talk about anything with.”

Metheny said there had been an outpouring of messages in recent days from people whose lives Jorgensen touched. 

“It has really just been wonderful and heartwarming to see the stories that people have had and just the love people have for Jay from, literally, all over the country,” Metheny said. “… I always knew he was liked and respected in the community but to really see that love people have for him is something really special.”  

Kocher wrote that the UR flag will fly at half-staff from Friday, May 8, through Sunday, May 10, in recognition of Jorgensen’s death, and information about a memorial service will be provided to the UR community when arrangements are available. 

Confidential on-campus resources for grief counseling are Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of the Chaplaincy. 

Non-confidential resources include the Office of Common Ground and the Westhampton College and Richmond College deans’ offices.  

Contact managing editor Emma Davis at emma.davis@richmond.edu.

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