Meet the Admission Committee – Richmond Edition!

For the past few weeks the admission committee, comprising my colleagues and myself (14 of us in total, from admission counselors to the dean), has been in session. Our task has been to create the next class of Richmond Spiders by carefully considering and selecting from among the more than 10,000 applications we received this year.

In recent years, I’ve posted a blog entry around this time that shares some fun (and random) information about the admission committee, the main idea being to break down stereotypes about college admission officers and to help applicants see that we’re a diverse and (relatively) normal group of people. (See previous years’ entries here and here.)

This year, I thought I’d do something a little different. Anyone who’s heard me give an admission presentation knows that I am a HUGE fan of our home city of Richmond. I know many of my colleagues share this love, so I thought this year I’d share some fun facts about the admission committee in the context of sharing some fun facts about Richmond, Virginia, where the 14 of us live and work.

Here we go…

Greater Richmond has a population of more than 1.2 million and is sometimes called a city of “from-heres” and “come-heres.”

3 members of the admission committee are from-heres, born and raised in Richmond. 11 of us are come-heres, hailing from 8 other states.

In 2010, named Richmond America’s healthiest city and one of the best cities for families.

10 of us are married. 5 of us have children. (1 of us is expecting and may be a new parent by the time you read this blog entry!) 1 of us has seen children through the college admission process.

In 2011, named Richmond one of the 20 Happiest Cities for Young Professionals in America, and in 2010 ranked Richmond 25th among Best Cities for New College Grads.

6 of us graduated from college within the past 10 years. 3 of us are proud University of Richmond alumni.

Foodies love Richmond. According to various sources, Richmond ranks among the top 10-15 cities in the country by locally-owned restaurants per capita.

The average member of the admission committee eats at a local restaurant at least once a week; in the past month, we have frequented more than 40 different local restaurants in aggregate.

Some of our favorite Richmond restaurants include Millie’s, Kuba Kuba, Mekong, Acacia, Ginger Thai, Buz and Ned’s, and Edo’s Squid.

With around 40,000 runners, Richmond’s annual Monument Avenue 10k is one of the 10 largest road races in the United States.

5 of us have run in the Monument 10k before, but only 1 of us is registered to run in this year’s, coming up on March 31.

Richmond is the only city in the U.S. with Class IV rapids inside city limits. The James River also gives Richmond its nickname, “The River City.”

4 of us have been down those Class IV rapids on whitewater rafting trips through the heart of the city.

10 of us enjoy spending time on the James, whether sunning, hiking, biking, boating, or otherwise.

Richmond is a city of festivals, with over 40 taking place each year, including the largest Folk Festival and largest French Film Festival in the U.S.

11 of us have been to at least one festival in the past year. Our record-holder has been to 8 festivals this year; the average committee member has been to 3.5 festivals this year. Our favorites include the Greek Festival, the Carytown Watermelon Festival, the Folk Festival, Arts in the Park, Broad Appetit, and Riverrock.

Richmond has a vibrant arts community. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is considered one of the top comprehensive art museums in the U.S.; last year, the newly-renovated museum was chosen as one of 7 museums worldwide (and the only city on the East Coast) to exhibit 176 Picasso paintings on tour from the Musee Picasso in Paris.

12 of us have been to the renovated VMFA since its opening in 2010. 7 of us saw the Picasso exhibit while it was in town. One of us saw the Picasso exhibit 3 times!

6 of us have attended at least one First Fridays Art Walk in the city’s gallery district. 5 of us have attended other arts events in the past year, including the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Ballet; one of us has performed in more than 15 concerts in the past year. 6 of us have been to concerts at The National, Innsbruck After Hours, or as part of the Friday Cheers series on Brown’s Island.

The Washington Post recently named Richmond “Outdoors Adventure Capital of the East Coast,” while Trail Runner named Richmond one of the nation’s top 7 cities for trail runners and the ACSMAF ranked Richmond the 12th most fit city in the U.S. in 2011.

12 of us enjoy engaging in outdoors activities. The most popular are hiking, biking, and running, but we also have campers, kayakers, and climbers, and many of us take advantage of fitness classes in the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness here on campus.

That said, only 5 of us have managed to work out regularly through the intensity of reading season over the last four months.

Richmond is home to three minor league sports franchises, including Double-A baseball team the Flying Squirrels, now going into their third season.

9 of us went to a Flying Squirrels game at least once during their first two seasons.

Richmond is home to The Martin Agency, one of the nation’s premier marketing groups.

We put it to a vote, and our favorite Martin Agency ad campaigns are the UPS Whiteboard commercials (4 votes), the song (3 votes), the Geico Cavemen (3 votes), Hanes’ Michael Jordan/Charlie Sheen/Cuba Gooding, Jr. commercials (2 votes); and Geico’s “Could switching to Geico really save you hundreds…?” commercials (1 vote). No one voted for WalMart’s “Save Money, Live Better” commercials, but we’re sure the Martin Agency is making lots of money off them anyway.

Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tommy Lee Jones, was filmed principally in Richmond in the fall of 2011.

11 of us plan to see Lincoln when it comes out later this year.

Other movies filmed primarily in Richmond that we’ve seen include Hannibal (8 of us), Evan Almighty (6 of us), The Contender (3 of us), and Cry Wolf (a teen thriller featuring Jon Bon Jovi that was filmed primarily on the University of Richmond’s campus in 2005, seen by 3 of us).

Richmond has some of the oldest (and newest!) neighborhoods in the nation. In addition to strong neighborhood affiliations, Richmonders often identify by the quadrant of the metro area they hail from (the West End, the East End, the North Side, or the South Side).

3 members of the admission committee identify as South Siders; 4 identify as West Enders; 1 identifies as an East Ender; and 1 identifies as a North Sider.

8 of us live in the City of Richmond proper. 6 of us live in one of the surrounding counties (Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield are all represented on our staff).

We represent 10 different neighborhoods, including antebellum Church Hill, the Victoria-era Fan, and the turn-of-the-century Museum District.

Richmond is one of the oldest cities in the country, with a rich history dating to the pre-colonial period.

History is all around us in Richmond. Sites that admission committee members live near and drive past on a daily basis include St. John’s Church (“Give me liberty or give me death!”), Monument Avenue (the only street in the U.S. designated a National Historic Landmark), the Virginia State Capitol (designed by Thomas Jefferson and prototype for the White House), Hollywood Cemetery (burial place of either two or three Presidents, depending whom you ask) and The Byrd Movie Palace (a 1920s-era cinema and National Historic Site that still features a Wurlitzer Organ performance before Saturday evening showings).

Richmond is the 3rd most tattooed city in the United States.

Yes, you read that correctly. TODAY Style ranked cities based on tattoo parlors per capita, and Richmond came in third. TODAY called Richmond “most surprising on our list” and attributed it to a “big arts and college community.” In my mind, it encapsulates just how delightfully surprising Richmond can be as a city.

And for those who’re wondering, 2 members of the admission committee are inked.


  1. Ha An
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    This is a great post… Something cute to distract from the wait 😛

    I want to ask how are the decisions gonna be released? From what I have gathered, last year it was only through snail mail.
    Are international applicants also notified the same way-because if they are I dont think I will ever get it?

    • Tom
      Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Ha An,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Our decisions will be released, as in the past, via snail mail for all applicants, and additionally via e-mail for international applicants. U.S. applicants, keep an eye on the mailbox; international applicants, look for an e-mail. Everyone should hear from us on or around April 1 at the latest.


  2. robert agaba
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I have enjoyed reading every sentence in this post, you definitely have a way with words. The message convened here makes me fall in love with the city of Richmond even more. I think this article should be archived in the richmond city library( if there’s ever such a thing like that!). Anyways, just the thought of going to a school like UR seems as a dream that will never turn to reality,as i await the final verdict from “a diverse and (relatively) normal group of people”.

    • Tom
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink


      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad this post appealed to you. Best of luck in the application process!


  3. Julie Ufheil
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for the BLOG…great information…my daughter is looking forward to applying next year..congratulations on such a large number of qualified students applying to University of Richmond!!


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