In a recent meeting with members of the University of Richmond Communications team, I remarked that the Jepson School alumni are our best ambassadors. Our alumni’s stories are endlessly impressive. This simple observation now forms a central part of our drive to raise the School’s profile among national and international leaders.

Two major pieces of this initiative are already in place: the Jepson Alumni Corps, which hosts our highly successful EDGE Institute to prepare students for the world of internships and beyond, and the Jepson School’s Executive Board of Advisors, with membership from highly visible supporters and alumni in business, arts, and sports.

Accordingly, we have begun to more systematically collect our alumni’s stories. In a series of vignettes, 18 alumni connect their day-to-day career success with their Jepson education. These vignettes provide a fascinating start to an ongoing project. (We will add more in the future, of course!) As you watch them, notice the varied titles of our alumni, from presidents and vice presidents to consultants and advisors.

Below are common themes that emerged from a survey of seven of the vignettes from graduates as recent as Jepson ’14, and as early as Jepson ’00.

Critical Thinking­­—The first course in the Jepson School curriculum is Critical Thinking. Decades later, our alumni still tell us that they listen and think better because they have had practice doing so.

Problem Solving—Throughout our program of study, we introduce students to moral, organizational, or historical problems, and we invite them to solve these situational conundrums. Jepson alumni remember these lessons; they recognize logical fallacies, and they solve problems every day.

Teamwork—Our curriculum emphasizes how leadership is a process and the group is the unit of interest. Alumni in all stages of their careers recognize that they are part of a team or group; and their leadership role varies depending on context.

Motivation/Persuasion­­—Leadership, as we often state, is a process that involves motivating others. Once the problem is solved through critical thinking, listening, and reflection, teamwork involves persuading the group of the best course of action. Jepson School alumni are well-positioned to take on these roles.

For anyone who knows the Jepson School curriculum, these themes will be unsurprising. Still, it’s reaffirming to see that alumni, unprompted, frequently mention the invaluable skills they honed in their years at Jepson!

Leadership studies according to Jepson School alumni

Sandra J. Peart

Dr. Peart is Dean of the School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. She is an economist with special interests in leadership and economics and leadership ethics. More about her: Go to and see faculty information.

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