Alumni e-News

October 2010

The Newsletter for RU Alumni & Friends

Thousands of Parents, Alumni and Friends Enjoy Weekend Spectacular at RU

To say it was a great weekend to be on the campus of Radford University might be a bit of an understatement.

Alumni Lacrosse Game

It was great for Wayne Warren ’89, who said he was thankful to be back at his alma mater, even after he was hit hard and knocked to the ground during the alumni lacrosse game. “I’m ok,” he said moments after picking himself up from the grass field. “I’m having fun, and just happy to be here.”

It was also great for the thousands of parents, students, alumni, faculty and community-members who gathered on campus to enjoy the festivities associated with RU’s annual Family Weekend, Welcome Back Reunion Weekend, and Highlanders Festival.

Friday night, the Office of Student Affairs presented the annual Donning of the Ring Ceremony, where Radford University juniors and seniors have a friend or family member place their class ring on their finger in a ritual that symbolizes the approaching end of their undergraduate education. The ceremony, held in the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts, continued a tradition that has been honored at the university for more than 30 years, said Mark Shanley, Radford University’s vice president for student affairs.

“Seeing the 2011 on the ring makes it seem more real that I will be graduating soon,” said senior Jenna Coleman.

Another special part of the ceremony was the presentation of the Outstanding Parent of the Year Award. This year’s recipient, Jerry Sands, was nominated by his daughter Jessica.

Jessica Sands with Mark Schanley and Jerry Sands
RU student Jessica Sands, Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Shanley, and the Outstanding Parent of the Year Award recipient Jerry Sands.

“I know he is proud of me; he tells me all the time,” Jessica Sands wrote in an essay nominating her father for the award. “I cannot wait until graduation, to be the first child to graduate college knowing it was all thanks to him.”

For her father, his daughter’s sentiment was reward enough.

“The fact that Jessica wrote an essay about me is flattering enough, but to win an award on top of it is just icing on the cake,” Jerry Sands said following the ceremony. “It’s pretty cool.”

On Saturday, President Penelope W. Kyle hosted a morning reception for parents of RU students to talk about their students’ experiences at Radford and to share information about how, as parents and family members, they can become more involved with Radford University.

“I know that you noticed that we said this reception is just for the parents. I guess we did not need to restrict this morning’s event to just parents because we assume that your son or daughter is not awake this early,” Kyle joked as the parents laughed with agreement. “And probably won’t be until you go to their room and knock on the door.”

Following closing remarks from Vice Provost for Enrollment Planning and Management Steven Nape, parents lined up to meet and speak individually with Kyle in the sun-lit foyer of the Covington Center.

At noon, scores of students, their families and their four-legged family members gathered in front of the Bonnie for another favorite event: The Family Weekend Dog Show. Prizes were awarded in a number of categories, and all of the pets in the contest received a “doggie bag” full of canine treats.

Later on in the afternoon, former RU baseball players gathered at the Dedmon Center sports complex to take on RU’s current players during the annual alumni baseball game.

Sitting in the dugout at the newly upgraded stadium, RU Baseball Coach Joe Raccuia, a 1995 alumnus, said one of his main goals with the reunion was to build a relationship with the alumni and get them excited and involved in the baseball program.

“It’s special,” said Raccuia. “Obviously these guys enjoyed their experience at Radford University and the baseball program, and for them to come back one time or two times a year to be together, it means they’ve had an outstanding, long-lasting relationship with their former teammates, and that’s what athletics and being part of a team is all about.”

Back at the lacrosse field, Kyle, sporting a white lacrosse jersey with a red No. 1 on the back that was a gift to her by the former players, spoke with lacrosse alumni and current members of the club team, enjoyed a moment to pose with the competitors in a big group photo, and thanked the alums for coming back to campus and for forging relationships with the current students who play on the RU club lacrosse team.

Approximately 40 lacrosse alumni from “all over the country” returned for the event, according to Mark Cumm ’90, who was a team co-captain when lacrosse was a Division I sport at RU. “You couldn’t have ordered up a better day,” said Cumm, who now resides in the Pacific Northwest. “It’s a bit of jump for me from Seattle, but well worth it.”

An alumni “tailgate” event was featured prior to the Men’s Soccer team match-up against Presbyterian. The enthusiastic fans in the stands at Cupp Stadium were fortunate to witness both a thrilling 5-1 victory for the Highlanders and some history in the making. Athletic Director Robert Lineburg and President Kyle presided over half-time ceremonies that honored Dante Washington, perhaps the most famous athlete to ever compete for Radford University. Washington, who is RU’s all time leading scorer, led the nation in scoring in 1988, and played on the U.S. Olympic Team during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. A banner recognizing Washington has been installed adjacent to the stadium scoreboard and was unveiled during the ceremonies.

Athletic activities were not the only special events featured during the sunny, fun-filled weekend. Several events showcased academic excellence and student achievement.

Friday afternoon, RU hosted its annual Partners in Excellence luncheon to honor some of its numerous scholarship students and offer thanks to the benefactors whose generous contributions made the scholarships possible.

On Saturday, the Radford University Black Alumni Chapter (RUBAC) held its scholarship luncheon. Receiving the RUBAC’s scholarship awards were RU senior Cibele Servidoni and sophomore Nicole Chambati. Each received $1,000 for textbooks and academic materials divided equally between the fall and spring semesters.

“Service is about giving back,” said Misti Pinkston-Allen, scholarship chairperson and RUBAC treasurer, applauding the recipients for excelling both in and out of the classroom.

The Interior Design & Fashion Department (ID&F) held its annual Fall Fashion Show, featuring original collections from students, as well as legendary couture fashion designer Arnold Scaasi, whose collection is currently being exhibited in McGuffey Hall through January.

Showcasing the Fall Fashion Show during RU Family Weekend is a chance to shine the spotlight on the department’s wealth of talents.

“During Family Weekend, parents are able to see what their children have done, what the faculty has done, and I think it is really a wonderful opportunity to share,” said Department Head Lennie Scott-Webber. “I’m very proud of our design students and our design faculty, and showing off is kind of fun.”

The 25th Appalachian Folk Arts Festival was held on Main Quad all day Saturday. A half-dozen different musicians and bands played Old-Time and Bluegrass music, while crowds enjoyed demonstrations of arts and crafts unique to the Appalachian region. At noon, an auction was held to benefit the Robert Glen and Cora Green Toney Edwards Appalachian Studies Scholarship.And of course, thousands of people gathered on campus for the 15th annual Highlanders Festival, which featured music from Celtic bands Enter the Haggis and Tartan Terrors. Along with the music, festival-goers enjoyed shopping at numerous food and craft vendor booths, watching sheep herding demonstrations and the traditional Scottish athletic games, where brawny men clad in kilts competed in authentic Highland games of strength and agility. The Highlanders Festival is presented as a joint partnership between Radford University and city of Radford. “This truly was a community event and evidence of the wonderful town/gown partnership we are blessed to enjoy in Radford,” said Radford Mayor Bruce E. Brown.

To see a photo gallery of some of the weekend events, please visit our Facebook gallery.


100 Years of RU History at Your Fingertips

RU’s history now comes to life right in the comfort of your computer screen, no matter where you are.

McConnell Library is proud to launch the Radford University Digital Collections to compile, preserve and organize archival and historical materials documenting the rich history of Radford University, southwest Virginia and Appalachia.

“Not everybody has the time to travel to the archives and special collections and look at the actual prints,” said Gene Hyde, archivist and special collections librarian at McConnell Library. “If we can present photos and documents in a format where anybody from any computer can go online and take a look at them, then we have made that history easier to get to, easy to use, and easy to understand.”

The collections began to take shape in the spring semester of 2009 with the scanning and processing of hundreds of photographs and the “Beehive,” RU’s student yearbook. Photographs are still being added to the collection, and scanning of the “Beehive” will be complete this semester, when editions from 1960-2005 will be available online (the “Beehive” switched to a DVD format in 2006). The collections also contain scanned issues of the Grapurchat, the former student newspaper, as well as scans of Beehives dating back to the first days of Radford’s history.

“The 1960-2005 issues of the “Beehive” are fully searchable, so an alum can type in their name, or a friend’s name, or a club or sport, and it’s going to give you every single page where the name appears,” said Hyde.

The collections also include nearly 700 historic photographs from the archives, with plans to add at least another thousand photographs by the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.

“We see it as a service that brings RU’s rich archival heritage to anyone’s computer, and we’ll be adding photos, documents and other materials to the collections for years to come,” said Hyde.

For questions, inquires or contributions to the Radford University Archives and Special Collections, please contact Gene Hyde at (540) 831-5692, or


RU License Plate Fees Now a Charitable Tax Deduction

Showing off your Radford University pride is now tax deductible!

highlanders license plateAs part of the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle’s revenue-sharing special license plate college series, a portion of the purchase fee for a Radford University Highlanders license plate will go to the university - and net you a charitable tax deduction. The new tax incentive campaign allows for $15 of the $25 annual license plate fee to be transferred to the university’s Radford Fund after sale of the first 1,000 plates, with the $15 fully tax deductible by the purchaser.

The Radford Fund is the university’s annual giving program generously supported by alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends. The fund is the administrative umbrella for all the annual giving programs at the university, and the bridge linking private support with the university. Funds received are used to meet the university’s needs and priorities in support of the initiatives in the RU 7-17 Strategic Plan.

With personalization options available, the special license plates are a great way for the 43,000 RU alumni currently residing in Virginia, parents, students, staff, faculty, RU fans and supporters to display their Highlander pride on America’s roadways.

To reserve or instantly purchase your special Radford University license plate and/or your personalized six-character combination, visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles online. If you prefer to purchase your new plates by mail or by visiting a DMV customer service center, please complete the application for Special Revenue Sharing Series, form VSA-10.


Radford University’s Office of University Advancement Welcomes New Staff

Two new employees have joined the Office of University Advancement at Radford University.

Joshua TessarJoshua Tessar has joined the university as a director of university advancement. In his new position, he will be responsible for major giving from alumni and friends in the Southwest and Southside Virginia areas.

Tessar previously served as the associate regional director of major gifts for Virginia Tech. He is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Tech.

Melissa Vidmar has been named the associate director of alumni Melissa Vidmarrelations chapters and communications. Vidmar will be responsible for working with the vice president for university advancement on a marketing and communication plan to increase alumni participation in chapters and events.

Prior to joining Radford University, Vidmar was the communications director for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. She received her education from New River Community College and Virginia Tech.