As is our tradition, students and faculty reflected on leadership as the Jepson School of Leadership Studies welcomed a new class at Prelude, the ceremony at which we induct newly admitted students.

The new class comprises 105 students, including seven juniors and 98 sophomores, the largest class in our 27-year history. As we had more applications than ever before, the incoming group is one of our most academically talented and diverse classes.

This class includes 11 Division I athletes, 35 volunteers, six Bonner Scholars, two Orientation Advisors, three Peer Advisors and Mentors, 10 Greek Life officers, four mock trial participants, six Honor Council members, and five student government representatives. I look forward to seeing them progress through the Jepson School curriculum, starting with Critical Thinking and Modes of Inquiry in spring 2020!

The Jepson Student Government Association (JSGA) tapped faculty member Peter Kaufman to give the 2019 Prelude address. He admonished incoming students to find ways to be compassionate and welcoming, see things others don’t see, and make “things good.”

Two Jepson student speakers also shared remarks with the incoming class. Senior Dan Mahoney spoke about the need for justice and accountability. It is a privilege to lead, he said, and therefore, leaders have the responsibility to do what is right. They must accept that they are accountable to their communities for the decisions they make as leaders.

Junior Omar Ibrahim told new students to look forward to exploring leadership studies together. He said they will grow in the months ahead as students, thinkers, leaders, and, indeed, as human beings. He urged them to question their professors—the “best on this campus”—because even professors are human and fallible.

I am always impressed when I listen to our students speak at Prelude. Each year, they demonstrate that they have absorbed our way of conceptualizing leadership as a process of give-and-take, one with a moral component as well as an element of challenge. They encourage the incoming students to stretch, learn, and read with care.

Finally, they insist that ours is a community that takes learning seriously, cares for each other, and has a good deal of fun. In short, our student speakers are wonderful ambassadors for the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

Leadership reflections at Prelude

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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