University of Richmond: Cinderella Team of the 2011 NCAA Basketball

By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

The latest from Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them

Several people have asked us what it's like to be scholars who study heroes at the University of Richmond, arguably the biggest underdog team still playing in the NCAA basketball tournament.

While walking around our campus, we sense a big buzz in the air.  Nearly everyone is talking about our team, it's triumphs, and how exciting it is to be known as the NCAA basketball "giant killers." At 3,000 students, the University of Richmond is among the smallest NCAA Division I schools in the country, and we not only compete against the big boys, we beat the big boys.  In watching people around campus this week, we see a bounce in their steps, buoyant smiles on their faces, and a great deal of pride.

We also see the potential for pointing out a failure in our human priorities.  News stories today are filled with gloom and terror.  Violence and unrest permeate much of the Arab world. Human suffering on a massive scale is occurring in Japan.  Starvation is a daily fact of life in much of Africa and Asia.  And so we could say that all the excitement on our Richmond campus is sadly misplaced, that all the smiling and elation about our basketball team is an insult to all the human suffering on our planet.

But we won't say that at all.  In fact, we'll say the opposite.

We know our students, our faculty, our staff.  There isn't a kinder, more compassionate, more caring group of people than the members of our university community.  We've spoken to many Richmonders and they grieve over Japan's casualties, and they feel the pain of the hungry, the poor, and the suffering all around the world.  And they get involved in a big way, with their money and their time, to help solve these problems and to make the world a better place.

There is no head-in-the-sand mentality at the University of Richmond.  In fact, we argue that our campus's heightened sensitivity to the world's problems is one of the main reasons it is taking a moment to bask in the glory of our basketball success.

Everyone here knows that basketball is just a game.  Determining who is better at throwing a ball through a hoop is hardly more important than the crises in Japan and the Middle-East.  But in such a dark world, we're very, very thirsty for heroes.  We need heroes now more than ever.  And so we'll take those heroes in whatever form they come in, and that includes basketball players who excel at playing a silly game, but who also represent our school with such skill, class, and dignity.

Go Richmond!

March Madnes can be a good thing in the workplace. Really.

Social psychologist Don Forsyth thinks the hype about spring basketball hurting workplace productivity and relationships is, well, hype.

He tells CNBC’s sportswriter Darren Rovell that filling out brackets and talking about the games and players, can actually add to workplace productivity.

Read Rovell

“Don Forsyth, a social psychologist who is a professor at University of Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies … recently had a workshop with executive leaders who he asked to fill out brackets and said employers could actually learn from how employees fill out their sheet.

"You could tell how each person made decisions, how they exhibited bias, whether their choices were rational or irrational, if they used mathematical analysis or if they picked based on emotion," Forsyth said.

Forsyth also said that those employers that tell their workers that they can't fill out brackets are doing a disservice to the office environment.

"It sends the message that they are in control," Forsyth said. "That actually helps define the culture of a workplace that people don't want to work in. Showing concern for people's happiness is important, especially when people aren't too motivated in March."

Forsyth also said that the energy and adrenaline a person gets from watching or talking about the tournament can also translate into more energy when focused on work.

Obama is the most recent antagonist to take a stand against originalism

Constitutional scholar Gary L. McDowell’s on “Understanding what the framers meant it to say,” at it appeared in the Deseret News March 6, 2010:

RICHMOND, Va. €” Twenty-five years ago this past summer, then-Attorney General Edwin Meese III stood before the annual meeting of the American Bar Association and displayed the temerity to call for the nation and its courts to abandon their errant juridical ways and return to what he called “a jurisprudence of original intention.”

Since that moment the advocates of liberal judicial activism have dedicated themselves to discrediting the idea of what has come to be called “originalism,” inevitably portraying it, in the words of one scholar, as an “inadequate and dying methodology.” 

Barack Obama is the most recent antagonist to emerge and take a stand against originalism. Rather than select judges who understand themselves to be bound by the text of the Constitution and the intentions of its framers, the president prefers those willing to keep the Constitution in tune with the times by elevating their own personal sentiments about social justice to the level of constitutional law. The search for “empathy” was to be his standard for his judicial picks his first two years; there is no reason to suspect he will abandon that in the last two years of this term.

Like many of its critics, the president fails to understand that originalism is not simply one method of interpretation among many equals; rather, it is the only one with a moral foundation that derives from the very essence of the American constitutional order. The Lockean philosophy of natural rights upon which the entire constitutional edifice rests demands it. The reason is that arbitrariness in the administration of power €” including what Justice Joseph Story condemned as the “arbitrary discretion of the judges” €” is the greatest threat to the rule of law. Continue reading Obama is the most recent antagonist to take a stand against originalism

“Reagan at 100” topic for historian and biographer Steven Hayward

Historian and acclaimed author Steven Hayward, an expert on the nation's 40th president, spoke Feb. 2, 2011 on "Reagan at 100: Why the Gipper Matters for the 21st Century" as part of the 2010-11 Marshall Center Lecture Series at the University of Richmond.

Feb. 6 marked the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth. Hayward is the author of "The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980" and "The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989," a two-volume narrative history of the former president and his effect on American political life. His other books include "Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity," and "Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders."

A political commentator and policy scholar, he is the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. He writes frequently on issues of public policy, political economy, and the environment for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and others.

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The John Marshall International Center for the Study of Statesmanship is located in Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies. It encourages the development of new courses and faculty seminars about the nature and prospects of statesmanship and hosts lecturers from around the world to discuss leadership and provide diverse intellectual perspectives. Directed by leadership studies professors Gary L. McDowell and Terry L. Price, the center is advised by an international board of distinguished scholars and leaders, including honorary chair and former prime minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher.

Expert on Turkey and the Middle East opines on the Turks and what’s next for Egypt

Our newest faculty member (he officially joins us in August)  is surfacing as an authoritative voice on Turkey and Egypt. Check out postings and interviews featuring Josh Walker, the first Jepson graduate to return to the School as a teacher.

Joshua W. Walker is a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund based in Washington, D.C. Walker is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies and he will be joining the Jepson School faculty as an assistant professor in August, 2011. He will teach international and cross-cultural leadership courses.  Continue reading Expert on Turkey and the Middle East opines on the Turks and what’s next for Egypt

Henrico County politics must resist complacency (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Leadership and politics expert Thad Williamson comments in Feb. 11 Michael Paul Williams column.

The article

Does the oath of office for a Henrico County supervisor include an exchange of rings and the vow “Till death do us part”?

The five supervisors who make up the Henrico board appear to be partners in a political matrimony that no one dares rip asunder. How else do we explain their tenure as Virginia’s longest-sitting board?

All five are seeking re-election in November. “Until somebody challenges them, they’re going to keep on running and keep on winning,” said Thad Williamson, assistant professor at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies. “But you would think with the change in demographics of the county, there would inevitably be some pressure to have a challenge to the status quo.”

Since 1996, the five current board members have presided over a county whose increasingly diverse population is now 30 percent black, 7 percent Asian and 5 percent Hispanic. Continue reading Henrico County politics must resist complacency (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Leadership scholar comments in “Halfway through term, Jones touts progress”

Jepson School of Leadership Studies’ political scientist Thad Williamson comments on Richmond Mayor’s performance and leadership style.

The Feb. 3, 2011 article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

At the midpoint of his term leading Richmond, Mayor Dwight C. Jones said he hasn’t decided whether to seek re-election but is pleased with what his administration has done in an economy that has squeezed budgets and stalled development projects.

Among his accomplishments, Jones cites improved streets and fiscal policies, as well as expanded opportunities for minority-owned firms and the revival of the historic Hippodrome Theater in Jackson Ward.

The theater, a landmark in African-American nightlife during segregation, is reopening following a $12 million restoration and expansion aided by $600,000 in city and federal funds.

Today, Jones will deliver his second State of the City address on a stage that was once graced by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Continue reading Leadership scholar comments in “Halfway through term, Jones touts progress”

Final Thoughts on “Leadership and the Collective Good”

Jepson Colloquium convened Jan. 22-23 and considered “Leadership and the Collective Good” through the writings and thoughts of scholars of altruism, philanthropy, empathy, volunteerism and collective action. Conference chairs Douglas A. Hicks and Thad Williamson wrap up the sessions.

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Being There: MLK Day Commemoration at the University of Richmond

Dr. Oliver W. Hill Jr., Dr. Edward Ayers, and Wilshire Bethel, ’12, speak at the University of Richmond’s community gathering in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, 2010. If you were not able to attend, experience the moment.

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