Dr. Mary Ferrari, Professor of History, Retires


Mary Ferrari has retired from teaching at Radford University.  Her 28 years brought far-ranging contributions to the Radford University community. Mary acted as a department chair--and for more than one department so valued were her administrative abilities. Her ability to see the bigger picture, along with an unfailing ability to recognize what was wise and what was not, led to service on the Faculty Senate Executive Council, search committees at all levels of the university, strategic planning and retention committees, and many other duties too numerous to list here. These efforts helped to make RU an institution that could better serve its students.

As skilled as Mary was as an administrator, she made her biggest mark as a teacher. Teaching was her passion. Students recognized her flair in the classroom and flocked to her courses on colonial and revolutionary America. She made early American life come alive for students, and she worked constantly to inspire a love of learning. Her talents as a teacher were recognized when she received the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Teaching Award. For Mary, though, teaching reached beyond the classroom. She was a sought-after academic advisor not just because of her mastery of program requirements but because she gave freely of her time to advise students. Students felt that they could go to her for whatever they needed.

Mary’s departure from teaching will also be felt by her colleagues. Teaching is a shared enterprise, and no one recognizes that more than Mary. She was always ready with the helpful comment about what worked for her in the classroom and what did not. More than that she liked to have these discussions in a convivial setting. Mary loves to organize events that bring people together. She organized departmental outings, and for many years she was at the center of a softball competition between history classes. The annual induction of students into Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, was a social event highly anticipated by faculty and students alike because Mary hosted it. People wanted to attend these gatherings and others because Mary has a great sense of humor that brings out the fun in every situation.

Mary Ferrari also made contributions to her field of study during her time at Radford. She published on women in 18th century Virginia and South Carolina, and she became an expert on Mary Draper Ingles, a legendary figure in southwestern Virginia for her escape from the Shawnee and a 400-mile trek home in the 1750s. Beyond her research activities, Dr. Ferrari has served as Vice-President and President of the Virginia Social Science Association and is currently on the editorial advisory board for the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Her dedicated service was recognized by the Virginia Social Science Association when she was awarded the Zamora Distinguished Service Award in 2002.

Her fellow faculty will miss her in the departmental offices and students will miss her in the classroom, but all wish her well and good cheer as she takes on new ventures.

May 29, 2020
Sharon Roger Hepburn