University of Richmond president Ronald Crutcher addressed a virtual audience in the annual State of University address at noon on Sept. 29.
In the address, Crutcher spoke of the many difficulties facing the URcommunity, such as debates over free speech and staff salary adjustments. No issue took more importance than UR’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of “protecting our web.”
“Our community is indeed crushing it, to borrow the typical phrase, [although] our work is far from over, and we must not grow complacent,” Crutcher said. “It is no accident that 117 days of Protecting Our Web campaign, the length of the fall term, is off to a safe start.”
UR currently sits at a 0.4% positivity COVID-19 test rate, Crutcher said. However, Crutcher warned that if people do not follow the COVID-19 guidelines, he would call for classes go fully remote, he said.
During his address, Crutcher offered sympathy for students of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and international students who are facing unique challenges, especially those who are remote learning from a different time zone.
Another key topic of the address was free speech on campus and how to foster informative discussion. Crutcher questioned how students would be able to learn if they could not ask a question without fear of offending or insulting.
Crutcher also spoke of his own experience as a Black classical musician in Germany.
“Reviewers praise my musical and interpretive abilities; yet, almost universally, they describe me as a colored cellist,” Crutcher said. “A cacophony of praise and racism was exasperating and left me wondering if I would ever be fully recognized solely as a professional musician.”
Despite these racist statements, Crutcher continues to support free speech, he said.
“I've long believed that free expression is the heart of building a more inclusive society,” he said.
The President’s Student Cabinet, which was initially announced on Feb. 13, will be in place later this semester, Crutcher said. The intent to create a cabinet was announced following acts of racist graffiti in January.
“This cabinet will fill an important role in our distributed leadership policy, giving students a stronger voice in institutional decisions and deliberations,” Crutcher said.
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Crutcher’s highest priority when it comes to faculty and staff are salary increases this budget cycle, he said. Despite the many hardships, the state of the university is stalwart — something that couldn’t happen without the campus community, Crutcher said.
“In spite of 2020 giving us hell, the state of the university is strong and that's [caused by] all of you,” he said. “Thank you once again for everything you have done to protect and strengthen our web.”
Contact visual editor Ben Wasserstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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