RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Students at the University of Richmond are back in the classroom today. As students are settling into their dorm rooms, plenty of changes have come to campus in time for the new year.

This year, universal masking on the university’s campus is not required but rather optional. Faculty and staff may require all students to wear a mask in their classroom, lab or office, but they must notify students of this requirement in advance. Students are required to comply with direction from their instructors or staff to wear a mask, according to university leadership.

There are also changes to several university departments. A new Africana Studies program launches this fall, led by the School of Arts and Sciences associate dean and history professor Manuella Meyer. The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science have become two separate departments, and the Department of Geography and the Environment is now the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability.

There are many other new faces on campus this year, from students to staff.

The 860 students that make up the class of 2026 include 12% first-generation students and 10% international students from 27 countries, including Albania, Canada, Malaysia, and Vietnam, according to the university.

There are four new trustees at University of Richmond whose terms began this summer — Stephen J. Aronson, Stacy Garrett-Ray, Ajay Nagpal, and Kevin R. Seth, all of whom are parents of students.

The University of Richmond’s Board of Trustees also elected R. Lewis Boggs as rector and Kathleen Hughes as vice rector. Both are alumni. Boggs succeeded Paul B. Queally who concluded his term of service on the Board on June 30, according to a university announcement.