Priorities:University of Richmond Student Priorities
University of Richmond -Strategic Priorities
Project Name: Funded Accelerator for Student Founded Startups
Led by: Ushna Arshad Khan
In order to empower students with the resources and confidence to pursue their startup idea, we will work on developing a funded accelerator program. This program will take place during the summer, and will provide students with both the training and funding necessary to pursue this idea. In itself, the accelerator program will have weekly workshops, mentorship sessions, advising one-on-one’s, and access to a network of founders and investors. At the end of the programs, all student founders will present their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and pitch to investors. Moreover, students will be funded through the Richmond Guarantee to pursue this experience throughout the summer, and could potentially qualify for a grant for equity-free funding.
- Connect stakeholder departments throughout campus such as the Centre for Innovation and Creativity, Business School, and the Computer Science departments to accumulate connections, resources, and volunteers. Develop a central database for networks and resources through this collaboration.
- Bring together a team of directors to help develop and deploy the accelerator program.
- Advocate for the accelerator program across campus and pitch to Board of Trustees for a pool of funding to grant student founder’s equity-free funding.
- Develop and devise a curriculum with the basics of founding a startup: idea validation, market research, stakeholder management, pricing, go to market strategies, app development, fundraising, and hiring.
- Source mentors and advisors for accelerator program members. Match mentors according to industries and ideas.
Project Name: Establishing a Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Department
Led By: Helen Xia
Department of Entrepreneurship created to bring together faculty and students in solving problems with creative solutions in different fields. Courses will be taught on a wide range of subjects, such as in design thinking and team-building strategies. The major and minor will allow students to develop their critical thinking skills and collaborate with faculty members directly on their projects and start-up ideas.
- Allow students to engage with diverse faculty members who have direct experience in the entrepreneurship field.
- Develop classes that would allow students to participate in team-building activities and not be afraid to learn from success and failure.
- Encourage many perspectives and provide students with different majors, minors and interests to develop entrepreneurial skills.
- Motivate change and growth throughout the University of RIchmond community
Project Name: Start-Up Weekend
Led By: Iana (Yana) Mezhibovskaia
Three-day program organized by the University of Richmond that provides students with an opportunity to experience entrepreneurship first-hand. It allows students across the campus to come together and share their ideas, find team members, gain valuable connections, and develop new skills to launch startups. The event provides the students with relevant and invaluable resources that they can use to explore their ideas and discover passion for entrepreneurship. This is an amazing opportunity for the students to learn the process of bringing their business ideas to life.
- Develop a community of passionate students who can come together, share their experience and exchange ideas in a safe and creative environment.
- Organize meetings with experienced entrepreneurs who can share their stories and inspire students to not be afraid to pursue their business ideas.
- Create a welcoming environment where students have an opportunity to meet new friends, potential team members, mentors, co founders and investors.
- Encourage professors and university staff to create a safe and inclusive space that will motivate students to express their ideas and think outside of the box.
- Emphasize inclusivity and creativity in the campus community.
Project Name: Establishing Open and Comfortable Relationships Between Students and Professors to Foster I&E Discussions
Led By: Chloe Khoshand
Description: In order to stimulate conversations between students and professors within the I&E realm, students first need to be able to have comfortable relationships with their professors. Understanding this, this project will target open spaces in the classroom--especially during the initial introduction of the student to the course--and build opportunities for professors to establish a working relationship with their students. The need to foster these relationships arises from speaking with students around campus (both students on campus and those remote) to see what their thoughts are concerning their relationships with their professors.
Create a comprehensive list of the different clubs/organizations on campus and how they relate to different regions of study on campus; professors can use this list within their courses to encourage students to refer to these programs depending on their interests
Encourage professors to communicate with their students on a more frequent basis depending on the comfort level of the professor when it comes down to the form of communication (texting, emailing, Zoom video chatting, etc)
Motivate professors to identify their day to day teaching methods at the beginning of each semester and make this information clear to students (ex: presenting a preliminary example of how the professor usually conducts their class whether they refer to PowerPoint notes daily, or employ video examples into their teaching)
Emphasize to professors the value of explaining their teaching styles to students early in the semester to make aware to students what they should expect from the course and the professor
Project Name: Student Approval Council for Class Creation/Process for Class Creation
Led By: Nichole Schiff
Description: The Student Approval Council for Class Creation/Process for Class Creation aims to give students a bigger voice in their education by providing them a platform to express their interests through the creation, alteration, and/or improvement of classes offered at the University of Richmond. This project is based on giving students the opportunity to pitch class ideas to a council of students and faculty that can help make these classes a reality. This can also include the alteration of higher level classes into ones that are open to more students (without so many prerequisites) so that they may explore this path of study.
Why Do We Need a Council for Class Creation/Process for Class Creation?
It is evident from research of speaking with students that many feel that their education is limited to the major path that they choose. Because of things such as prerequisites and limited course options without doing a major/minor in that subject, students feel that they are not given the opportunity to explore many of their interests. Even within major/minors, students feel that there are many topics the University does not have classes in. Even if the students' class idea does not become a reality, this will open the line of communication between students, faculty, and administrators in order to take student opinions into consideration when classes are being created, formed, and altered.
The Initial part of this project is the creation of a forum in which students can ideate, create, and propose their class idea. This can be accomplished through a checklist of objectives a student must follow before they are able to present their idea. This includes creating the idea (through a pre-designed form that they must fill out, having students get a set number of student signatures on their idea, as well as a professor who would be willing to teach their course/work with the student.
An essential part of this project is the creation of a Student Approval Council who works with the current Faculty Class Creation Council in order for students to be involved in the class creation process. We believe this should comprise a diverse group of (upperclassmen) students to transcend across various majors/minors. They can apply to be a part of this committee through a form we work with the Faculty Council to create.
The third important element of this idea is to create an event each semester or year that students can pitch their class ideas to the council after completing the initial steps. Their class idea can then be approved or rejected. If approved, the student will take next steps and begin to work with faculty and administrators in order to see if their idea could become an actual class, or if they could incorporate their ideas into a pre-existing class.
Project Name: Virtual Innovation Space and raise awareness of innovation for all three schools
Led By: Penny Hu
Description: Problem -- students in schools other than the Business School feel that innovation and entrepreneurship doesn’t apply to them, innovations and entrepreneurship are not implemented in classes and students would love to have something innovation related in classes. There are no resources that are available for all students to help them if they need innovation skill guidance.
The virtual Innovation Space is an online platform that students would be available for students to use when they need innovation skills for their innovation related projects in classes. The space will contain a mural-like space and framework on how design thinking works and there will be advisors and students available in the virtual space for students to meet and help generate ideas.
1. The initial part of this project is working on projects in my team who works on introducing innovation into courses and identify what needs the students have for innovation connected with different classes
2. Present the idea to the Provost Innovation Committee to get support for both human resources and technology resources for the space. For the human resources, we need an innovation focused faculty who would be able to do office hours in the virtual innovation space and students who have learned innovation and entrepreneurship skills for other students to utilize when they need it. For technology, we need a space for students to help them generate their ideas, put them down and help them filter which one would be beneficial for them, they can go on zoom office hours with the faculty directors if they can’t figure out anything through their process.
3. When the space is developed, faculty would be able to include the link to the space on their syllabus and the director for the space can work to provide entrepreneurship speakers to talk about their innovation experiences and professors who have innovation related classes would also be able to let the director know that what help students may need for the class projects so they can help the students according to their needs.
Project Name: New Departmental Framework for course and content development
Led By: Danny Anderson
Description: Professors find administrative obstacles to fulfilling their role of updating and improving their curricula and course offerings. New courses can take many years or decades to establish due to a lengthy process, and meaningful changes to content often require approval from administrators and are fully standardized across sections of introductory classes. As a result, changes to the content offered by a department are slow and inconvenient for faculty. Reorganizing the methods by which content changes can accelerate classroom innovation at the University of Richmond.
1. The proliferation of special topics courses is a necessary structural step in providing a culture of experimentation by faculty. Professor contracts require a set number of courses per semester (typically 2-3) and departments plan a year or two in advance what these courses will be. One course per two or three semesters, for each full time faculty, should be reserved for a special topics course, newly designed by the teaching faculty. This will allow departments to learn more quickly what courses they should be incorporating into their fields of study and would encourage faculty to seek ideas from students and their field.
2. Departments have not coordinated innovation in their curricula, instead leaving professors individually to do the work and hopefully talk amongst each other. There needs to be a concerted effort at the department level to find areas for improvement of class offerings, and to meet objectives to that end. To this end, there should be established a biennial deliverable report from the chair of each department to the Provost’s office detailing the goals for innovation in the next two years, and the progress made on the previous two years’ goals.
Project Name: Creating innovation and design thinking “capsule” courses for specific fields
Led By: Emma Johnson
Description: Although students at the university feel that they are gaining some knowledge of innovation and design thinking in their course curriculum, preliminary research has suggested that students might not feel entirely confident in their personal ability to innovate or in their knowledge of innovations within their field. Therefore, special “capsule” courses will be created with the aim of teaching principles of innovation and design thinking while simultaneously providing students with specific information about developing innovations in their field of study.
Surveys will be sent out to departments on campus, as well as to students from those departments, asking them questions about their level of knowledge about innovation and design thinking, as well as about the extent to which innovation and its principles are conveyed within the current curriculum. From these surveys, information will be gathered about what specific principles of innovation and design thinking workshop attendees might benefit from most.
These “capsule” courses will act as “certifications” that may contribute to a workshop attendee’s resume, and will be taught over the span of a few, hour-long classes. Professors, innovative members of the community, and interested students will help plan the course curricula for each of these “capsule” courses so that all stakeholders feel they have sufficient input in the design and structure of the selected course.
To ensure that each department feels they have equal opportunity to see their information represented in one of these “capsule” courses, departments across campus will be linked together to put on these programs so that everyone gets a chance to participate. These departments will spend the duration of the “capsule” course together, understanding how each field contributes to the other’s respective understanding of each other. Fields that are closely-related will be linked together as often as possible so that attendees may understand how their field may interact with members of closely-related sectors. This would spur attendees to be more thoughtful about fostering collaboration between different fields going forward so that they do not become overly siloed.
Project Name: U of R poll that gauges students interests in what locations they would like to have more access to → use that to update or create a new busing route or a uber system
Led By: Khushi Basnyat
Description: Overall, through talking with students I learned that they are not aware of the transportation services the school offers. There should be better marketing or flowcharts or more online resources so that students are aware of their options. I also learned that “UR Downtown” was not utilized by many students, simply because they weren’t informed about the activities or the purpose of it. Students also seem to prefer ubers because it saves time and is more convenient than finding out how to get somewhere through a bus. A lot of the bus routes or locations don’t seem to be of interest to students, either because they don’t know about it or are interested in different places. Adding on more stops or updating the route based on student input could be a great way to address the problem. When I was on the website, I found out there wasn’t even a key-point person for transportation, there was just an email. On the website for zip-cars, the website linked for how international students could drive did not work - there is a need for a website update to fit current needs.
There should be a survey to see where students are interested in going off campus, according to interviews with students, the locations offered by the schools shuttle does not offer the places that they are interested in going. Students also feel it’s hard to get off campus without a car, and don’t utilize the schools buses because it doesn’t take them to the places they want. Either the school could implement a free uber system for students to go off campus or they can update the shuttles with locations that are most efficient and in demand. Students also did not know much about UR Downtown, if the school is to bring this back, there should be greater marketing and more student involvement to best help the needs of what UR students are interested in.
Project Name: Creating an I&E Workshop to Substitute for Cancelling Class
Led By: Sophia Hartman
Description: This program would start as an alternative to cancelling class in which professors could sign-up to have a workshop designed to teach innovation skills during their class period. Eventually I’d like to implement a day of innovation skill learning into all FYS courses, similar to the day of learning about library resources, or even having an innovation point person that is aware of and has connections to all possible innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities. Potentially, this could even become its own Wellness Course, although it may need to be altered slightly to adapt to that framework or the requirements of Wellness Courses.
This program would require a small number of supplies, such as sticky-notes and markers/pens/pencils, an adaptable workshop design focused on innovative thinking and skills, a mechanism through which professors can sign up, and a mechanism for marketing and advertising the program to faculty. Key elements of the program would explore aspects of innovation such as collaboration, ideation, implementation, and creation through activities that would allow students to practice skills that apply these concepts. Additionally, there would be a mechanism for feedback on how to better incorporate innovation into the classroom and the workshop, with the hopes of gradually expanding this program beyond an opt-in, substitute workshop.
Project Name: Filling the gap between students and campus resources; opportunities, funding, and networking opportunities
Led By: Sarah Schalkoff
Description: The university provides its students with rich resources. For almost every opportunity offered through the school, funding or mentorship services are available. However, the way in which students come to contact is often through word of mouth. This creates an information gap among student, especially first year and second year students, allowing certain demographics wether that being the people student choose to surround themselves around, knowledge of outside opportunities the students know prior to starting their college career, or the students being student who identify as domestic/international/minority groups/first-generation college student. An online platform that will help connect not students to resources, but students with students in the upper class who have previously utilized specific opportunities through a matching system will help cover this information gap.
Surveys will be sent out to the student body, faculty members, and hubs of resources (such as the Center for Student Involvement, the Bonner Civic Engagement Center, or Career Service) to gather resources and opportunities on campus students have used previously. Additionally, through student surveys, the criteria in which the “match-making” process will be based on will be determined: majors, minors, research opportunities, funding opportunities etc. The development of an online platform: this may take the form of a website or an app. This will involve professional help. Therefore, to have a clearer understanding of exactly what this platform will look like, what is necessary, and in which manner it operates will be the most effective for the students to use, must be determined prior to the development of the platform. Inviting students to join the online platform, as this platform is not founded upon the idea of connecting students to resources, rather connecting students with fellow students that have experience in using a resource the ostdunet may be interested in.
Project Name: Create a program/series that features alumni that students can connect with in a more casual setting
Led By: Anthony Moody
Description: Overall, there is a lack of direct communication with Alumni that is provided to students across campus. The Robins School of Business puts on a speaker series every year that brings in top level executives from large companies to speak to business students. We also have what is called “Career Services Fair” which is an event, very similar to a festival, where students can connect with businesses and internship opportunities. I believe that in combining both the Robins School of Business’ Speaker Series and “SpiderFest”, would create an opportunity for students to either speak with alumni, potentially pitch ideas, and receive guidance that they may have not had access to prior.
The key to making this successful is to introduce it campus wide. There is a lot of stigma surrounding the Business School of not being accepting nor inviting. Therefore, it limits the number of students who attend important speaker series. I believe that having alum, who can connect not only to their experiences but their academic track, could be vital to their development and security in moving forward in their career paths. Providing a more relaxed environment to connect with these is important to make a more personalized connection.
From our Landscape canvas, there are three main problems/issues that we identified as lacking in our campus I&E ecosystem:
- Faculty and I&E: Some professors employ new creative teaching methods and mechanisms in class whilst others don’t. Some professors cross-collaborate with other departments and schools on campus, whilst others don’t/can’t. Faculty is too ‘busy’ or not all of them incorporate I&E elements/existing I&E resources on campus in their courses.
- Lack of coherence and access: There’s a lot of ground-level I&E going on campus but it’s pretty spread out (different departments have different stuff but with no central coherence and purpose). Likewise, access to many I&E resources on campus is limited.
- The Student Academic Experience & IE: While our Career Services office is one of the top in the country when it comes to job placements and grad schools, there is a skewed data and patterns on which majors most get placed and have better job opportunities. Also, although humanity should be a large part of the school academy, there are few opportunities for students.
For each of the problems above, we initially brainstormed a bunch of ideas and then in pairs, we chose the problem that we were most passionate to solve. Once the pairs were decided, we worked on our own prototypes, got feedback on them and the following strategic priorities were the final result:
Problem 1: Faculty and I&E
Project 1: Increasing cross-collaboration between faculty from different departments and schools
Led by Sandeep Kumar
Description/goals: Working with the Faculty Hub to create an environment of “learning and sharing” amongst the faculty where the professors who are already incorporating existing I&E resources on campus (like speaker series, lectures and trips) into their courses, share how they do it and how other faculty can do so. Along with this, fostering better interdepartmental communication and expanding the already existing “meet and greets”
How to do this/key tactics: Regular meetups with the faculty hub; talking to professors who are more I&E oriented (as per our canvas research) and working with their schedules to hold monthly I&E workshops for each department and keeping it open to all faculty. Also, working with the CCE who organizes campus wide faculty meet-ups to help expand what happens there and see if they need any help.
Project 2: Helping faculty incorporate design thinking and I&E into their courses
Led by Seema Ahmed
Description: Annual I&E retreat -A yearly, two day retreat comprised of workshops on more modern teaching methods, led by both the fellows, the CIE committee on campus and some faculty.
In order to actually develop this idea, we need faculty and administration funding and support in helping find accomodations, food, and other essential logistical aspects. Additionally we would need to hold a search to find good speakers and events to hold during the retreat in order to make the greatest impact with the time allotted. The project name is “The Retreat” and will also require various modern electronics to use in projects and presentations so that faulty begins to use more updated methods of teaching.
Problem 2: Lack of coherence and access
Project 1: Increase the accessibility of Technology Learning Center(TLC)
Led by Xiaodi Hu (Sara)
Description/goals: A workshop model targeting specific students groups and organizations who might most need the TLC but can’t access it/have never really thought about using it; going to different classrooms/working with professors to show them how TLC can help them advance what they teach/perhaps better teach it, in more creative ways!
How to do this/key tactics:
- The workshops for students should a general introduction of different equipment and software, so students know what they can achieve with the help of TLC. (work with TLC to design these workshops and see if they need help; survey students and ask them what they need)
- It is preferred to have those workshops at the beginning but not the first week of the semester. (timing decisions)
- We can start with advertising it to members of related clubs (e.g. photography). (which groups to target)
- Put both short videos for specific problems as well as long online courses on the website and let student choose.
- Promote the usage of 3D-Printing, VR, etc among faculty members.
Project 2: Work on better advertising campus I&E resources (specifically the TLC and other technological resources)
Led by Will Walker
- Make more meaningful connections and engage the campus community with an emphasis on student organizations
- Develop effective communication strategy that is more connective, interactive, and engaging.
- Provide more direct explanation of resources and services available to students
- Ensure that departments aren’t siloed; more interdepartmental and interdisciplinary initiatives on campus.
How to do this/key tactics:
Work on a comprehensive scheduling system with the TLC that allows students, faculty, and staff to engage resources and services year round. Encourage TLC to conduct more demonstrations on campus in popular locations and host bi-montly open-houses. Facilitate conversations around moving TLC to a more central/easily accessible location (which is already in progress!). Use their help to update/create an I&E website that highlight I&E related offerings, programs, and resources on campus
Problem 3: Student Academic Experience & IE
Project 1: Inculcating soft skills in students
Led by Kartikey Sharma
Exposed students to skills and concepts they’ll use regularly in their professional life beyond the domain-specific skills they gain through their major related classes. Such a curriculum will include skills and projects such as networking, design thinking, cognitive bias awareness, guided mastery against fear of failure/negative feedback etc. In this way, they would be exposed to skills which are used regardless of occupation in professional life, as well as be better equipped and for innovative pursuits.
How to do this/key tactics:
- Integrating these skills into the curriculum of courses already required for graduation such as First Year Seminars, or Wellness Courses.
- Triaging the skills which are most effectively teachable in a classroom setting based on discussion with faculty etc/
- Focusing on guided mastery and overcoming fear of failure and negative feedback, and communication techniques.
- Integrating an incentivization scheme parallel to these classes to provide students both the willingness and ability to pursue innovative project/gain practical abilities for their professional life in the real world.
Project 2: Thriving Humanities--Student speaker series and other related events/programs
Led by Bingjie Liu
Thriving Humanities project aims to Identify and create more opportunities for students with or considering humanity majors. Humanity majors include Art and Art History, Classical Studies, EnglishHistory, Latin American, Latino and Iberian Studies, Modern Literatures and Cultures, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric and Communication Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, Theater and Dance and many interdisciplinary programs.
Why Thriving Humanities project?
The only humanity programs/student organization related to humanity are Humanity Fellowship Program and Renaissance Society. We have resources that support humanity: Modlin Center, Gallery, Career Service, First Year Seminar and Student Orientations. However, these resources do not connect with each other and they do not communicate well with each other.
From the above description of the current situation for humanity majors on campus, there are limited resources and programs available on campus. From our interviews with first and second-year students, they are also hesitate to choose humanity majors
How to do this/key tactics:
- The major part of the project would be the Student Speaker Series. There are two parts of the series. First, upperclassman can share their experience of how they end up with humanity majors with underclassman who are interested in humanity majors. Second, Career Service can help upperclassman with humanity majors connect alumni who graduate with humanity majors by inviting these alumni to campus and they can share experience of how they end up with their jobs.
- The second part is the Humanity Week/Campaign where more connections across humanity departments could be enhanced. Art gallery can cooperate with Modlin Center to hold events related to art history and archaeology. Event like One book One Richmond could work with many humanity departments. In addition, departments could elect their own top 3 books, art work or music that fall under their categories, and they would share with all the students on campus.
2019 UIF Team Members