2019 State of the University

President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.
State of the University Address
Radford University
Preston Hall, Bondurant Auditorium
October 25, 2019
10:30 a.m.

Good morning, and welcome to the State of the University!

It is indeed a privilege to stand before you and celebrate the success of Radford University, an institution with a rich history focused on teaching excellence and a future driven by innovation.

During the current academic year, the Radford family has had a unique opportunity to reflect upon the great achievements of our past, while continuing to build a solid foundation for our promising future that will be defined by a commitment to our students, a pursuit of our core values, a dedication to our mission, and a fulfillment of our vision!

But, before we get started, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge individuals who provide a positive impact at every level of our campus and our community on a daily basis.

I must express my sincerest appreciation to the Radford University Board of Visitors for their continued dedication to our institution and their unwavering passion for our mission.

Could I ask the following Board members to stand and be recognized?

  • Rector Bob Archer
  • Greg Burton
  • Rachel Fowlkes
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Nancy Rice
  • Georgia Anne Snyder-Falkinham
  • Jake Fox
  • Breon Case

To these dedicated and selfless public servants standing before us, please join me in thanking them for sharing their time, talent, and treasure with the Radford family.  

Let’s give them a warm round of applause!

Members of the shared governance team, when I call your name, please stand and remain standing:

  • Student Government Association President Colleen McNickle;
  • Faculty Senate President Jake Fox;
  • Administrative and Professional Faculty Senate President Ashlee Claud; and
  • Staff Senate President Kristina Contreras.

Shared governance has been a strong tenant of this administration.

It has defined our work together.

It has enabled our success to date.

And, it will remain an important focus moving forward!

To the individuals standing, thank you for your daily commitment to our Great University.

You embody the spirit and strength of the Radford family.

Please join me in appreciation of these incredible leaders.

I would also like to acknowledge members of the Leadership Council, the vice presidents, academic deans, and key leaders, who serve our campus community each and every day.

Members of the Leadership Council, please stand.

The individuals before you embody the true spirit of a Highlander by living our core values every day.

They are selfless in their work.

And, they are dedicated to enhancing the Radford journey and the Highlander experience.

Let’s recognize these outstanding individuals with a hearty round of applause!

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge an individual who is critical to my success both personally and professionally.

Someone who provides a solid foundation for my life…

My loving and beautiful wife, Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill.

Marisela, please stand.

You are a proud member of the Radford family!

And, you sacrifice so much to dedicate yourself and our entire family to Radford University.

You are a Highlander in the truest sense.

I could not be more proud of you!

Please join me in thanking my lovely wife and your First Lady for all that she does!

As I begin my third State of the University Address and my fourth year as President, let me be clear, the State of the University is strong.

We are strong and positioned for the future that will be defined by our talented students, our world-class faculty, our dedicated staff, our passionate alumni, and our generous supporters!

For more than a century, Radford University has been making a significant difference.

Our profound impact and growing presence should not be undervalued and cannot be understated.

On July 10, 2019, the next chapter in Radford University’s storied history was written.

It was a historic day in which we officially established Radford University Carilion.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on our long-standing partnership with Carilion Clinic, the strength and success of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, and our 18-month journey together.

Could I ask all RUC students, faculty, and staff, who are in attendance, to please stand?

I also want to ask:

  • Orion Rogers, Dean of the Artis College of Science and Technology;
  • Matt Smith, Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences; and
  • Ken Cox, Dean of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services to stand and join our RUC colleagues.

These gentlemen represent the three academic colleges that gained programs and/or faculty as part of the merger.

I am so excited to see what we will do together as one Radford family at RUC and in Roanoke.

The sky is the limit for our work!

Let’s applaud these proud members of the Radford family and the many individuals at both locations who greatly contributed to the successful merger.

In addition to our growing footprint in the Star City, we have recommitted our efforts to providing opportunities right here in the New River Valley.

Together, we are broadening access to the Radford experience.

And, last Spring, Radford University joined together with New River Community College to sign a Guaranteed Partnership Agreement.

That signing was an important step, but only the beginning in our expanding work.

Today, I am pleased to formally announce a new program called the Bridge to RU.

This program will allow us to provide an automatic admission to New River Community College students who apply to Radford University, but for different reasons may not be ready for the academic rigor of a four-year institution.

As enrolled students at New River Community College and visiting scholars at Radford University, they will live in our residence halls, eat in our dining halls, study in our collaborative areas, and attend our events.

After their first year of classes at New River, they will formally begin their studies at Radford University.

After their second year of college and first year at Radford, they will be proud graduates of New River.

This is a first-of-its-kind program in the Commonwealth.

With the Bridge to RU, we are setting the standard for meeting students where they are and providing a customized experience for engagement and success!

At this time, I would like to acknowledge:

  • Kitty McCarthy, Radford’s Vice President for Enrollment Management; and
  • Peter Anderson, New River’s Vice President for Instruction and Student Services for their outstanding work.

Kitty and Peter, please stand.

Join me in applauding them and so many others for making this landmark program possible for future Muskies and Highlanders.

We are also expanding our footprint and impact in Southwest Virginia.

We were recently awarded a $325,000 grant by the Commonwealth’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

The Commission was created under the Code of Virginia in 1999 to revitalize, grow, and diversify the economy of the 34 counties and six cities in Virginia’s tobacco-producing region.

This breakthrough grant received by our University will enable the expansion of the school counselor program to the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center located in Abingdon.

The Competitive Education Program, through which the grant was provided, focuses on ways to increase the education and skill levels of the region’s labor pools, as a method to attract and retain employers.

Tammy Wallace, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, and Wendy Lowery, Vice President for University Advancement, please stand.
Join me in applauding these two individuals and their dedicated teams for making this expansion possible!

At Radford, we are answering the call to serve as an economic engine in the region and beyond.

And, that is why today I am proud to announce that we will move forward with the establishment of ACCESS Radford, which was a critical initiative in our five-year strategic plan.

ACCESS Radford will provide a synergy among our Center for Career and Talent Development, the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab, the University’s economic development efforts, and our focus on corporate partnerships.

ACCESS Radford will be led by Dr. Angela Joyner, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Career and Talent Development.

Dr. Joyner joined the Radford family in the summer of 2016 and brought with her many years of experience and expertise in the corporate sector.

I look forward to implementing ACCESS Radford and Dr. Joyner’s increased role at our University!

Dr. Joyner, please stand.

Let’s applaud her and celebrate another significant step forward in envisioning our future!

In addition to providing increased opportunities and expanded services in partnership with other entities, we are also rapidly expanding program offerings and the overall academic experience right here at home.  

The Radford University of today proudly offers:

  • 76 bachelor’s degree programs in 47 disciplines, and three associate’s degree programs;
  • 27 master's degree programs in 22 disciplines and six doctoral programs; and
  • 13 post-baccalaureate certificates and one post-master's certificate.

Our University is pleased to offer three new undergraduate degrees and one new doctoral degree that reflect the growing demand for skilled employees in the healthcare, technology, and education industries.

The cybersecurity and sport management programs were launched last Spring.

And, the third program, in allied health sciences, began this Fall.

And, we cannot forget the new Doctor of Education program!

This program will prepare the next generation of executive-level leaders!

Graduates of this fully-online program will work collaboratively within their communities to improve student outcomes.

At this time, I would like to ask:

  • Kenna Colley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs;
  • Dean Wallace; and
  • Dean Rogers, to please stand.

Let’s applaud them as well as dedicated faculty in these two colleges, for their amazing work in developing and implementing these critical programs!

Folks, that is not all!

Our faculty have been involved in a multi-year process to adapt our curriculum to the interests and needs of the students of today and tomorrow.

Could I ask:

  • Faculty Senate President Jake Fox; and
  • Director of Core Curriculum Nicole Hendrix to please stand?

Drs. Fox and Hendrix have dedicated themselves to working collaboratively with their fellow faculty to serve our students in new ways!

Also, could I ask members of the REAL Curriculum Planning Committee and the REAL Model Implementation Steering Committee to join Drs. Fox and Hendrix by standing?

Let’s show our appreciation to the innovative faculty at Radford University who are forward-thinking and student-centered as they continue to work together in making the REAL Education Model a reality for future Highlanders!

The close relationships that our faculty develop with our students result in a lasting impact as they transition to graduates and alumni.

That relationship is what separates Radford from other institutions of our scope and size.

And, this past Spring and over the Summer, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the incredible value of a Radford degree and the powerful impact of the Highlander experience.

Marisela and I, along with many leaders across our University, traveled the Commonwealth of Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Through a total of eight stops on the Highlander Family Tour…

We heard their stories.

We saw their passion.
And, we had an opportunity to bestow the Spirit of the Tartan award on some of our most loyal alumni and dedicated friends!

Let’s take a look back at the high-energy Highlander Family Tour.

Could I ask the Alumni Relations team to please stand?

This outstanding group, led by Vice President Lowery and Laura Turk, Executive Director.

They worked tirelessly this Spring and Summer to connect and reconnect with Highlander alumni!

Together, we are achieving excellence!

And, with an increased commitment to our communities, individuals are responding to Radford University in profound ways.

Our work has manifested itself in regional and national recognition for our University.

Just last month, the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings advanced Radford University closer to the top of the list as the #12 “Top Public Schools” up from #18 last year.

Let’s give a hearty round of applause for moving up six spots in only one year!

Radford University also made progress in another area in the U.S. News & World Report rankings as evident in the "Best Regional Universities in the South" moving to #28, up from #46 the previous year.

Those rankings and so many others also deserve a round of applause!

This level of recognition comes at a time when Radford University is responding to the changing landscape of enrollment in Virginia by tapping into new markets such as RUC, and online growth through the IMPACT Program.

Standing strong at 11,870, a Radford education is reaching increased numbers of students.

Enrolling and retaining students is our top priority at Radford University.

There is no denying that a highly-sought, world-class education is available right here at Radford University.

These tremendous accomplishments serve to highlight our collective commitment to providing enriching and quality experience for our students!

Let’s give a hearty round of applause to the incredible faculty who have made these successes possible.

Folks, I am pleased to say that our hard work and dedicated efforts are paying off!

Together, we are helping students succeed!

And, by sustaining the forward momentum, positive passion, incredible strength, and undeniable spirit within each and every member of the Radford family…

I am confident we will continue to provide enriching experiences and achieve the meaningful goals we have set for ourselves.

Look no further than our inaugural event of the Highlander Discovery Institute.

Approximately one month ago, our campus welcomed three highly-acclaimed women, Katie Couric, Donna Brazile, and Ana Navarro!

For a moderated panel, “Exploring the Nexus of Politics and Society,” we witnessed first-hand varying viewpoints brought forth and then discussed them in a productive and respectful manner.

I was thrilled with the participation in and response from the inaugural event of the Highlander Discovery Institute!

Students, faculty, staff, and community members were constantly engaged throughout the lively discussion.

There was applause and laughter, but more importantly there were thought provoking ideas shared by Katie, Donna, and Ana.

Following the event, students and many others spent time in breakout groups having dialogue about what most resonated with them!

We are tremendously proud of our campus and our community for the level of care and respect that was demonstrated as part of this event.

Could I ask the Steering Committee Co-Chairs Tim Channell and Angela Joyner, as well as Ashley Schumaker, to please stand?

And, can I have members of the Highlander Discovery Institute Steering Committee stand?

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in applauding this group for setting the bar high for future events of the Highlander Discovery Institute.

And, what about our highly-successful Family Weekend that was held as a stand-alone event for the first time in recent history?

For this year’s event, we hosted more than 1,400 families, which marked a significant increase over prior years during which we averaged 800 families.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize:

  • Susan Trageser, Vice President for Student Affairs; and
  • Tricia Smith, Associate Vice President for Student Life; and
  • their teams for expanding family engagement and programming on this campus.

Could I have all individuals engaged in this important work to please stand?

Thank you for your efforts to provide greater support to our Highlander families!

What about one of the longstanding traditions at Radford University and in the City of Radford?
The Radford Highlanders Festival…

One of the first questions I heard when I became President was, “When is the Festival coming back to campus?”

I am proud to say that, two weeks ago, we celebrated the 2019 Radford Highlanders Festival on campus stretching from Moffett Hall to Muse Hall.

The Highlanders Festival was created to celebrate the rich history of the early Scots-Irish immigrants to this region.

The Festival represents another aspect of our Radford family and Highlander pride.

In the mid-90’s, the entire University community rallied around what Scots-Irish heritage really means and the pride that it carries.

At the first Radford Highlanders Festival in 1996, the University’s Highlander mascot was introduced.

And, later, the Highlander became the nickname for the athletic teams.

A Highlander is a fearsome, strong, and proud individual.

So, I am pleased the Festival is back on campus.

I am proud of the rich tradition.

And, I look forward to our Highlander pride growing among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community.

Let’s take a moment to share our appreciation to City of Radford officials, including Mayor David Horton and City Manager David Ridpath, and Karen Casteele, who leads the University’s coordination of this special annual event.

Please stand, so that we can recognize your collective efforts.

And, we cannot forget about the re-establishment of the on-campus office of the Small Business Development Center or the recent ribbon cutting and the formal opening of the Venture Lab, which occurred late last month.

As outlined in our five-year strategic plan, the University committed to contributing to overall economic growth and increased employment opportunities in the region.

One of those ways was to establish and operate a business incubator to promote start-ups.

Due to the diligent efforts of many, including the Radford University Venture Lab Steering Committee, the lower level of the Davis College of Business and Economics is now home to the Venture Lab.

Through the Venture Lab, Radford University has made a commitment to providing a mechanism for students to take their ideas and make them a reality.

Could I ask:

  • Provost Colley;
  • Steve Childers, Professor of Management; and
  • the Venture Lab Steering Committee to please stand?

Let’s applaud them for making this project come to life!

Enduring commitment, unmatched dedication, and abundant passion are exhibited each and every day by the Radford family in remarkable ways…

Ways that impact the New River and Roanoke Valleys, the Commonwealth of Virginia, our nation, and the world!

Indeed, there are so many people who make Radford so very special, and their stories cannot be matched.

Dedicated and outstanding faculty like the 2018 recipients of the Dalton Eminent Scholar Awards.

Please stand when your name is called:

  • Jeremy Wojdak, Professor of Biology;
  • Helen Roybark, Professor of Accounting;
  • Ji-Eun Lee, Assistant Professor of Dance; and
  • Skip Watts, Professor of Geology.

Each faculty member received a $10,000 award to fund research travel and materials, along with a $5,000 award following successful completion of research and scholarly activity.

Please join me in applauding these individuals for their commitment to excellence in and out of the classroom!

And, what about the faculty and staff who were honored at our Fall Convocation?
Please stand when your name is called:

  • Kim Lane, Associate Professor of Biochemistry;
  • Connie Leathers, Information Technology Support Specialist and Trainer;
  • Corey Cassidy, Associate Dean for the Waldron College of Health and Human Services; and
  • Darryl Corey, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education.

These individuals had the opportunity to choose a student to receive a scholarship.

Today, the award winners are joined by their selected students!

Let’s give these individuals a hearty round of applause!

And, let’s not forget Danylle Kunkel, Associate Professor of Management, who is leading the University’s newly-established BB&T Leadership Development Program.

Through the generous support of BB&T, Radford University has created a leadership development program, designed to expand opportunities for students and assist faculty in building expertise and knowledge in ethical and social leadership.

Radford University is proud of its long-standing partnership with BB&T, which has provided monetary support to host numerous speakers who bring financial insight to students, faculty, and business leaders from across the region!

This enhanced partnership will allow BB&T and Radford University to engage the Davis College of Business and Economics locally, regionally, and nationally with young minds entering the business community as socially responsible, ethical leaders.

Dr. Kunkel, could you please stand?

Please join me in applauding BB&T for their generous support and Dr. Kunkel for her leadership role with this program!

Together, we are supporting Highlander success through motivated and inspirational students like:

Breon Case, a junior majoring in business management, who is making his family proud every single day by making his dreams come true right here on this campus.

Greg Capps, a member of the Class of 2019, who is a proud veteran and an outstanding scholar.

And, Sydney Nunley, a graduate student, who is motivated by a deep-rooted belief in the power of a team, which she has found on the court with the Women’s Basketball team.

Like Sydney, many Highlander student-athletes find their passion in the classroom and competition!
Of the 427 teams that earned All-Academic distinction, the Women’s Cross Country team had the highest GPA in the nation at 3.87.

Consider this: regular season championships started with Women’s Soccer followed by Women’s Basketball and co-champions Men’s Basketball.

We also had Big South tournament champions, with an automatic bid to the NCAA, by our Men’s Tennis, Women’s Soccer, and Women’s Basketball.

Let’s take a look at the historic season for Women’s Basketball!

Could I have Robert Lineburg, Director of Athletics, all of our student-athletes, and coaches to please stand?

Let’s show them how much we appreciate all they do to represent Highlander pride on the regional and national stage!

Without question, the time-honored tradition of Radford University is clearly focused.

Together, we are making a difference!

And, for more than a year, a cross-functional Committee has been working closely with staff in the Division of Finance and Administration on the 2020-2030 Master Plan.

The Master Plan will be reviewed and approved by the Board of Visitors as part of their December meeting.

As the plan is in the final development stages, I am honored to have the opportunity to share two significant additions that will be made to our campus and our community.

The Master Plan will outline the construction and operation of a full-service, multi-story hotel located very close to campus at the intersection of Tyler Avenue and Calhoun Street.

The hotel will provide amenities not available at current area hotels and a proximity to campus that cannot be matched.

The University is working with JLL, a commercial real estate services firm and the second-largest company of its kind in the world.

As a Fortune 500 company, JLL will provide professional services and needed assistance with project definition and implementation as the University works closely with the Radford University Foundation.

I am confident that our campus will serve as a wonderful backdrop for area visitors and University guests.

Imagine standing on the top floor of the hotel in the rooftop restaurant and seeing the beauty and excitement of our campus.

At this time, I would like to ask:

  • Nancy Artis, Chair of the Foundation Board;
  • John Cox, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation; and
  • Chad Reed, Vice President for Finance and Administration, to please stand.

Nancy, John, and Chad, on behalf of the University, please accept our appreciation for your diligent efforts to greatly enhance the experience of our guests and visitors.

Throughout the master planning process, the Committee has focused on the holistic experience at Radford University.

Their thoughts and plans were centered around the robust academic offerings and innovative accomplishments as our University continues to offer a living and learning environment that students are proud to call home.

We are proud to provide an engaging, inclusive, and welcoming environment, while maximizing the natural beauty and scenic views of Southwest Virginia.

Nestled along the New River, there are an abundance of outdoor activities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to enjoy.

I would contend, that it has been underutilized!

And, it is why I am proud to announce the development of the riverfront!

This project, which will brand us as a River Campus, will provide the following experiences and opportunities:

  • A revamped bridge design for an amazing entry into the riverfront;
  • A new traffic pattern along University Drive;
  • The addition of a Champions Walk showcasing the success of our student-athletes and athletic teams;
  • A boardwalk for morning and evening strolls;
  • River access for experiential learning and outdoor recreation;
  • A full-service restaurant with a riverfront dining experience;
  • An amphitheater to showcase the arts through concerts and performances overlooking the New River; and
  • A zip-line for adventure and thrill-seeking Highlanders.

The River Campus project will drastically change the way students, faculty, staff, and the community utilize our grounds and facilities.

Could I ask all members of the Master Planning Committee to please stand, so that we can acknowledge your efforts as you enter the final stage of your work?
Let’s give these individuals a hearty round of applause!

As the Radford family joins together for Homecoming 2019 and the Class of 1969 returns for their Golden Reunion, we are reminded of how being a Highlander is so very special.

This campus has fostered, and will continue to foster, the intellectual and personal growth of so many.

Countless individuals have walked the hallowed halls of McGuffey, Peters, Porterfield, Reed-Curie, Russell, and Whitt, just to name a few, and made significant contributions to their families, their professions, and their communities!

These are the individuals who have created better lives for themselves, resulting in a powerful legacy for each and every one of us to follow.

As I began, the State of the University is strong.

We are strong and positioned for the future.

As we return to our classrooms, our laboratories, and our offices and celebrate Homecoming, we cannot and will not falter.

Through a pursuit of discovery, dedication to scholarship, and spirit of service, together, we are collectively bridging the knowledge and skills gap by providing new opportunities for our students and our citizens.

It is our mission to create and nurture students who are responsive, a future that is resilient, and Highlanders who are real.

This is our purpose and our reason.

This is Radford University, and we are Highlanders!

God Bless each of you, and GO HIGHLANDERS!