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President Kyle Speaks to the Future and Vitality of Radford University

RADFORD -- The Radford University academic year kicked off on Thursday, Aug. 28, as RU President Penelope W. Kyle addressed a capacity crowd of faculty, staff and distinguished guests during her convocation speech. Kyle spoke about the future of the university and the dedication of the campus community, expressing her enthusiasm for all that is yet to come for RU.

“I trust you are as excited and energized as I am by the many challenges, possibilities and opportunities this year will bring,” said Kyle. “We begin this new year full of optimism and excitement.”

She began by introducing the tri-chairs of the university’s Centennial, which will be celebrated in 2010: Claire Waldron, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services; Gary Ellerman, who will represent the community and retired faculty; and Barbara-lyn Morris, who will represent RU alumni. She also introduced Jenny Doud, who will serve as the university staff to the Centennial.  Kyle spoke of adopting a message for the Centennial, which she expects will acknowledge the past while addressing future plans.

“We are a university on the move,” she said. “Our university’s successes are reported regularly in the newspaper and television and are touted in the halls of Richmond.”

Wil Stanton, RU’s provost, welcomed 33 new faculty members to the RU community and announced the appointment of four new deans and four new chairs and directors: Brian Conniff, founding dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences; Faye Gilbert, dean of the College of Business and Economics; Dennis Grady, dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies; Orion Rogers, founding dean of the College of Science and Technology; Lennie Scott-Webber, chair of the Department of Interior Design and Fashion; Elise Fullmer, director of the School of Social Work; Lynn Zoch, founding director of the School of Communication; and Douglas Mitchell, director of the newly-established Master of Occupational Therapy program.

Kyle announced that more than 1,900 freshmen are joining the RU campus community this semester, the university’s largest class in 20 years. This year’s class is one of the best academically prepared and one of the most diverse in recent history.  The university also welcomes 47 new international and exchange students representing 25 countries.

The success of each student and the university as a whole is dependent upon the faculty, said Kyle. “Student relationships with our faculty is one of the most frequent reasons our alumni cite as a key component of their satisfaction with their experience at RU,” she said. “We have faculty dedicated to teaching and to finding new ways to involve students in an active and productive intellectual life and our students reflect the excellence of our faculty. As your president, I thank you for all that you contribute to RU.”

As an example of the collaborative research efforts between faculty and students, Kyle cited a recent trip to the Solomon Islands conducted by RU professors Rhett Herman, Donna Boyd and Cliff Boyd, who Kyle later recognized as the 2008 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. Seven students traveled with the faculty members in an attempt to uncover the remains of 24 members of the U.S. Marine Goettge Patrol who perished during the August 1942 Battle for Guadalcanal. She also pointed to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, where 24 RU student submissions were accepted for presentation at the meeting. Of 307 colleges and universities attending the conference, only four schools had more students participating than RU.

Kyle highlighted the many accolades recently bestowed upon the university. RU was named one of the best colleges and universities in the Southeast U.S. by The Princeton Review and was ranked 14th among public master’s universities in the south in U.S. News and World Report’s 2009 Guide to America’s Best Colleges.

In addition, anthropology professor Cliff Boyd received the 2008 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, the Commonwealth’s highest honor for educators at Virginia’s colleges and universities. And, RU graduate and rector of the Board of Visitors Randal J. Kirk received an award as Virginia’s Outstanding Industrialist of 2008.

RU is welcoming to campus this week its first doctoral degree students. They have enrolled in the Doctor of Psychology program in Counseling Psychology. The university is set to welcome even more doctoral and master’s degree students in the near future as the university gained state approval to offer a Masters in Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees in 2009. Kyle also pointed out that the proposal for a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree has been submitted to the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) for review.

Kyle announced that earlier this spring, the Virginia General Assembly approved a bond package that included $34.2 million for a new building for the College of Business and Economics (COBE). The university will raise $10 million in private funds in support of this project for a total of $44.2 million dedicated to the new home for COBE. Radford is also the recipient of $1.5 million in general fund monies to pay for the planning component of a new $37 million building for the College of Science and Technology. Kyle addressed continuing renovations on existing buildings, such as Young Hall, and the construction of the new Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts as further evidence of the university’s accomplishments and expansion.

Kyle concluded by announcing that RU has achieved all of its targets on the SCHEV’s Institutional Performance Standards, the only institution in the Commonwealth to do so.

 “Opportunities such as I have outlined in the last few minutes are one part of what makes Radford the exceptional place it is,” she said.

Recipients of the outstanding faculty and staff awards bestowed by the RU Foundation were also recognized during convocation. The award winners were Richard Bay, Mark Cline, James Lollar, Jeff Willner and Loretta Estes. To learn more about each recipient, see the RU News Release.

In addition, Kyle presented four Million Dollar Circle Awards, which recognize those who have secured or directed RU projects funded by external agencies with a total of at least $1 million. The recipients were Joe Chase, Leslie Daniel, Kathryn Hoover and Veronica Lewis.

Read the full transcript of the 2008 convocation ceremony.

In the photo below: Richard Bay receives the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award on stage with President Penelope. W. Kyle and Provost Wil Stanton. Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times.

Convocation 2008

August 29, 2008
Contact: Mindy Buchanan-King (; 540-831-7764)

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