Special luncheon highlights Homecoming for women of Radford
More than 100 Radford women of all ages reminisced about Radford’s history and celebrated the women who make up today’s campus community at the third annual Women of Radford Luncheon on Oct. 17.
President Penelope W. Kyle joined the alumnae from several generations and classes to celebrate the university's origins and history. Supported by a video montage featuring alumnae who have gone on to make important contributions in a variety of fields, President Kyle keynoted the luncheon with a talk titled, "The History of Women in Leadership at Radford University."
"We're all women of Radford, but in our history there have been some very extraordinary women," President Kyle said. "These women and many more broke the glass ceiling in business, technology and other fields to pave the way for future generations. Every one of them is a Radford University treasure."
Kyle reflected on the powerful contributions by venerated Dean of Students M'Ledge Moffett and her equally respected successor Bonnie Hurlburt ’58 as foundations upon which Radford’s heritage of excellence and leadership in education was built.
Kyle highlighted the range of Radford’s gifted and dedicated women educators by introducing important faculty emeriti such as Grace Edwards, who started Radford’s Appalachian Studies program, and B.J. Tilley, who launched the university’s nationally-recognized interior design department. She also pointed with pride to current faculty members Donna Boyd and Jennifer Jones, winners of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding faculty awards.
"Radford is fortunate to have our faculty, staff, student community and alumni leaders," she said. "I have mentioned just a few, but there are so many more."
The luncheon also gave Kyle a chance to reflect upon her career as the first woman president of the institution.
"I want all of you to know how very proud and honored I am to have been given this unbelievable opportunity to serve as Radford’s first female president," she said. "I hope that during my soon-to-be 11 years here that I have opened doors for young women, that I have helped other young women climb the ladder and that I have demonstrated to all of our students, men and women, that all is possible through hard work and perseverance."
Mary Ann Hovis '65 and a current member of both the Board of Visitors and Radford University Foundation Board of Directors capped the luncheon with a toast, saying, "On behalf the past, present and future, we thank President Kyle, who embodies the spirit of Radford with her determination, her resilience and willingness to open doors for future generations."
Edna Osborne '65, a member of the Golden Reunion class returned to the campus from Warner-Robins, Ga., and talked about the campus and the current generation.
"It has been magnificent. The campus is very appealing," Osborne said. "You can tell the students have pride in their school."
Classmate Brenda Mutter, whose son Mike is a Radford graduate, noted the commonalities between her class and today’s students.
"They have the same ambitions, the same dreams," Mutter said.
Another classmate, Esther Skrivseth Powell of Alexandria, reflected on an experience as a Radford student, perhaps, unique to her generation.
"We boarded the train at midnight and walked right up the hill to class at 8 a.m. after playing cards all night," Powell recalled. "All Radford women played bridge, and played it well."
To Sharon Sowers of Wytheville, McConnell Library was a place of deep connection. Not only is she related to the McConnell family, the library’s namesake - Dr. John Preston McConnell, Radford’s first president - but her grandson, a freshman, will be studying there as she did.
"I doubt he's there now. It is Saturday afternoon," Sowers said. "But I know it, and Radford, will be as important to him as it was to me as a place to study and grow."