When Wadia Samadi began her first week of classes at the University of Richmond last Monday, she might have seemed just like any other first-year student. She was mildly overwhelmed with the workload that came with taking 15 credits, she relaxed after a long day in her Moore Hall dorm room, and she sometimes lost her way to different classes. "Everyday I have to ask like 50 people where things are," said Samadi, 18.
As Edward Ayers begins his second full month as president of the University of Richmond and his first week with students, he finds himself probing for answers about the university's identity -- answers he has yet to find. "My job this year, with as much honesty as I can, is to figure out what the University of Richmond is so I can help it fulfill itself," Ayers said. Ayers, the former dean of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia, said his background as a historian is serving him strongly as he works through the early months of his presidency. He is meticulously moving through the campus and among its community members, meeting with groups of students and faculty and doing whatever he can to sense a common pulse in a community that largely fails to fall into the rigid mold of a liberal arts university. "It's very clear that nobody else is built like we are.