The History of SPCS

The University of Richmond established University College to meet the lifelong learning needs of Richmond’s working professionals. Its first classes were held on September 17, 1962, on the original Richmond College campus at the corner of Grace and Lombardy Streets. The school’s foundation is rooted in President Boatwright’s desire to provide higher education opportunities to working adults and in President Modlin’s vision to create a separate University division dedicated to non-traditional learners.

University College thrived in a city that lacked education opportunities for non-traditional learners. Within a year, its programs had expanded to include the Summer School, the Evening Division, a two-year Junior College, the Business Management Center and even the University’s first Summer Study Abroad program—all but one of which remain programs of the University.

As the city added education programs for non-traditional learners, including Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, University College responded by scaling down its programs. At this pivotal moment in the school’s history, the University recommitted itself to the school by welcoming University College onto the West End campus in 1974.

University College continued meeting educational needs with services that included noncredit programs, an expanded executive education program and the Women’s Resource Center. In 1995, in response to the University’s commitment to lifelong education, the school was renamed the School of Continuing Studies, aligning itself with the other four schools of the University.

The School continues to meet the community’s educational needs. The number of Think Again noncredit courses continues to climb. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Institute on Philanthropy have expanded. New collaborative efforts like the Center for Leadership in Education match the University’s strengths with community needs. Undergraduates can choose from bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees; once finished, they can earn graduate degrees in liberal arts, education, nonprofit studies and human resource management. And partnerships with local education providers result in programs like Partners in the Arts and teacher education institutes at local museums.

In 2012, as part of its five-year strategic plan, the School changed its name once again to the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. The new name more accurately reflected the School’s programs along with its ongoing mission to enrich lives and careers of working professionals.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, the School celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a year-long celebration. The event opened with a gala celebration and open house commemorating the first day of University College classes in 1962 and culminated in a special 50th Anniversary SPCS Night and Commencement celebrating the School’s first graduating class in 1963.

In 2017, the School developed and released its latest five-year strategic plan. The plan identifies four strategic themes and five strategic goals for the period extending from 2017 through 2022.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the world. In response, the University of Richmond shifted to emergency remote instruction in the middle of March after the WHO declared the pandemic. SPCS offered emergency remote instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and the Summer 2020 term. For the Fall 2020 term, SPCS continued offering remote instruction, gradually returning to in-person and hybrid coursework beginning in the Spring 2021 semester. We followed the guidance of the University’s Physical Distancing Framework throughout the pandemic-impacted terms.

In Fall 2020, the School launched a post-bachelor’s certificate and bachelor’s degree major in Data Analytics. In Fall 2021, the School launched its first entirely online post-bachelor’s certificates in Data Analytics, Information Security and Information Systems. And on September 17, 2022, the School launched its 60th anniversary celebration.

Mission and Values

The mission of SPCS is to enrich lives and careers for the 21st century.

Our values include Care, Collaboration, Diversity, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Learning and Responsiveness.

More than a list of words, our values collectively build and support a culture focused on transformation, collaboration, communication and diversity.