University History

Jepson Hall

Jepson Hall

Site: North side of campus off of Richmond Way
Groundbreaking: October 5, 1989
Opened: August, 1992
Dedication: September 9, 1992
Architect: Marcellus Wright, Cox and Smith
Size: Approx. 75,000 square feet

In the fall of 1987 Robert S. Jepson, Jr. presented a gift to the University to help fund a new and innovative leadership program. He and his wife pledged a total of $20 million towards a new building to house the program and an endowment to sustain it. Planning for the new building began shortly after the announcement of the gift.

Jepson Hall is designed in the University’s signature Collegiate Gothic style. Its impressive size, monumental tower, and wonderful detailing make it stand out on the campus. This beautiful building completes the academic quadrangle on the north side of the lake.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at 4 p.m., Oct. 5, 1989 at the site of the new construction. Participants in the ceremony included Robert and Alice Jepson, President Morrill, Chancellor Heilman, Chancellor-emeritus Modlin, David Robbins former Dean of the Robins School of Business, Rector Joseph Jennings, Robert D. Kilpatrick chairman of CIGNA, and student Megan Semple.

Bass Construction Company was selected as the general contractor and began work shortly after the groundbreaking. The property was cleared, a drainage system was installed and preparations were made to lay the foundation. At the time it was expected that Jepson Hall would be completed in the fall of 1991. Bass Construction found that it had too many project commitments and asked to be released from the Jepson Hall project in June 1990. A new contractor John W. Daniel & Company was later hired and work on the foundation resumed. Roger Sheppard was the site superintendent for Daniel & Co. Almost 600 tons of limestone and half –a-million bricks were used in construction.

Retired Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf spoke at the building’s inauguration on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 1992. The ceremony was attended by approximately 3,000 people. During his talk, Schwarzkopf said, “With all of our problems, the United States of America is still the greatest nation on the face of this earth and we are going to have the leadership that we need going into the 21st century because of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.” Other featured guests included William H. Gray III, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, and Paul Duke, former senior correspondent with PBS and host of the “Washington Week in Review.”

Today, part of the Information Service staff occupies the ground floor of Jepson Hall. Student computer labs and several technology enhanced classroom are also on this level. The first floor houses the Jepson School for Leadership studies. The Jepson School shares the third floor with the Math and Computer Science Department.

Jepson Hall

Robert S. Jepson, Jr. is a 1964 graduate of the Robins School of Business. While attending the university he won the Norman Award for outstanding business school senior; was president of the school’s student government; and was president of Omicron Delta Kappa. In 1975 Jepson received a master’s degree in commerce from the Robins School of Business. In 1987 the University presented an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree to Mr. Jepson. He was awarded the President’s Medal in 2003 for his support to the University of Richmond. He and his wife have contributed to Jepson Hall, the Jepson Alumni Center, the Alice Andrews Jepson Theater in the Modlin Fine Arts Center, and the W. David Robbins Chair in Strategic Management.

On May 5, 2003, Jepson gave the Commencement addresses to University of Richmond graduates. He called on them to exercise honor and integrity as they moved out into the world and laid down seven concepts of personal leadership that he believes enrich his life and would do the same for others who practice them.

"Dare to dream, commit yourselves to excellence, live your lives with genuine concern for others, maintain absolute integrity and high ethics, be strong enough to take risks and learn from failure, develop a tolerance for stress, and importantly, live your lives with a sense of stewardship," he said. "All great achievements begin with dreams," Jepson said. "Each of you will reach higher, achieve more, by being a dreamer." He advised the graduates, "never to compromise the integrity of your dreams" or "allow your visions to be relegated to mediocrity or to a status of that which might have been."

On excellence, Jepson said that leaders and winners understand "there is no substitute for striving to become, becoming and remaining the very best." Every successful person also fosters a genuine concern for others, while maintaining absolute integrity in public and private life, he said. "Your ethics expressed through your actions are a clear window into your soul. All of us, every day, weave the ethical and moral fabric of our lives. We wear that fabric everywhere we go and it is there for all to see."

"Let us all take care," he urged, "to weave only that which we are proud to display." Jepson reminded the audience that leaders must be willing to take risks and that risk is part of every dictionary definition of the term "entrepreneur." Risk-taking is not "the foolhardy go-for-it-all of the gambler whose fortune is riding completely on chance," he said. The risk I speak of is a well-thought-out investment of time and resources which may pay enormous dividends, both emotionally and financially."

Jepson advised the graduates that stress is a part of business and living that "will unfortunately follow you every day and almost everywhere, and the higher you rise the more certain is its presence in your life." Finally, Jepson asked that each person demonstrate appreciativeness and humility with "a conspicuous sense of stewardship" using the financial and human capital that accumulates over a lifetime.

Sources:
UR website
VBHS building file
Collegian 1960 – 1992
University Communications’ News Archive
Mary Maxwell