Connections and commitment discussed at RU alumni meeting
Before a full day of Homecoming 2014 activities, RU Alumni Relations staff members met with alumni Saturday morning, enthusiastically sharing the latest university news and discussing numerous opportunities available to volunteer and become more involved with their alma mater.
Laura Turk '87, MS '90, executive director for Alumni Relations, began the Alumni Open Meeting by providing an overview of the numerous Homecoming and alumni activities that had transpired already throughout the week.
Turk also gave insight into the Class of 2018, noting the freshman class is the "most diverse class we have ever had at Radford University.'' She credited the RU administration, students and alumni for "working hard to make this a more diverse campus."
Turk also noted that more than a third of the freshman class is made up of first-generation college students. "That says a lot about who were are," she said. "We make sure a college education is accessible to everyone."
Dean of Students Irvin Clark briefly spoke about the university's commitment to its students.
"The university is being recognized for its commitment to diversity. You can see it all around the campus," Clark said. "You can see it in a lot of our programing initiatives. We're doing everything we can to make sure Radford University is all inclusive for all students, and that's a lot to celebrate."
While noting the various changes at RU, Turk also said the student body continues to be a group that is engaged in academics and the betterment of their communities.
"Alumni, when they come back to campus, they always ask, 'is it like it was back when I was in school? How are the students? Are they like me?'" Turk said. "Having worked here 23 years, the faces change, the names change, but those histories and traditions of who a Radford students is, is still the same. They're caring. They're inquisitive. They're risk takers. They're good communicators. They're chameleons in all situations, and they're very successful."
Turk provided an update on the various construction projects on campus, including the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center – it's scheduled to open in the fall – the new Center for the Sciences and a new building for the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences that will sit between Muse Hall and McConnell Library.
"When you're out today and you meet with the deans, please ask them about what's going on in your college or your department," Turk said. "There are some amazing things happening."
Turk also spoke to alumni about connecting with their alma mater. "We want you to connect with our students. We want you to connect with each other to help out with networking opportunities, to gather to share memories and get excited about Radford," she said. "We want you to connect to find ways you can give back to this institution. We want you to contribute your time, talent and resources."
Sandra Bond B.S. '97, MBA '00, associate director of Alumni Relations, gave a brief history of the office – it opened in 1920 – and encouraged alumni to show their pride by sharing their Radford stories and experiences. She also discussed the office's highlights from the past year.
Mike DeFilippo '90, the coordinator for alumni engagement, spoke to alumni about ways to participate and be involved with RU, including community service options, returning to the university as an alumni speaker, and professional development and networking opportunities.
Vanessa Quesenberry '12, coordinator for alumni engagement, spoke about other opportunities, such as Legacy Family events and the Affinity Reunion.
Turk informed the audience of the numerous forms of communication RU uses to help alumni stay informed about the university, including The Magazine of Radford University, RU Connected and the Alumni Relations webpage.
The staff also encouraged alumni to be involved through social media throughout Homecoming by posting photos and comments using the hashtags #RUAlumni and #RUHC2014. "We want you to like our posts and retweet," Bond said. "All this will help us spread the word about RU."
Quesenberry encouraged alumni to be social media ambassadors beyond Homecoming.
Following the meeting, SGA, Greek Life, Sigma Nu and the Black Alumni Networking Group hosted special breakout sessions.
Alumnus Walter Penn said he was excited to see all the improvements taking place on campus and he hopes to become more involved as opportunities arise.
"It's amazing how much the university has changed. It makes me proud and I'm really looking forward to what it's going to look like," said Penn, a former SGA member who earned bachelor's degrees at RU in criminal justice '94 and economics '95. "It's my obligation to do more here, and I'm excited."