Welcome Back for the Spring 2018 Semester!

Jan. 16, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

It is with great enthusiasm that I provide a warm Highlander welcome to each of you in joining the Radford family for the Spring 2018 semester. As we embark on the second half of the 2017-2018 academic year, we celebrate the achievements of the past and expand the possibilities for the future. Following a year-long planning process and recent adoption by the Board of Visitors, I am pleased to present Radford University's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan: Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future. The goals identified within this five-year plan reflect the hopes and dreams of Radford University and those it proudly serves, including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, community and friends. The plan will drive each of us in our daily interactions and collaborative efforts to selflessly serve current and future generations of Highlanders.

Through the engagement of the campus and the community, the Radford family devoted much of its time and talent to planning and preparing for our future with a broad-based structure including various subgroups and a Task Force. Your tireless work is evident when reviewing the plan as it will guide our efforts in so many ways by impacting our daily work and our continued focus on enhancing the Radford University experience for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. I encourage you to review the strategic plan in its entirety and remain engaged moving forward as comprehensive updates will be provided to the campus community in May and December of each year. Implementation updates will include detailed information regarding key performance indicators as it relates to baseline and target progress for each goal and strategy.

In addition to implementation of our strategic plan, Radford University is focused on telling our story and advocating for resources to further our mission of empowering students from diverse backgrounds by providing transformative educational experiences. During the 2018 session of the General Assembly, we will work diligently to garner support for the following priorities.

  • Implement Student Success and Retention Action Plan: Funding has been requested to implement an early-intervention academic assistance program in support of student success and retention. In fostering an environment of success both inside and outside the classroom, the University has established a goal of increasing the retention rate of each incoming class by one percent each year and increasing the six-year graduation rate of the corresponding class by half a percentage point each year. Such progress will be accomplished by focusing on removing barriers to students' success, supporting the broader classroom experience, ensuring effective peer mentoring, fostering improved student communication and addressing students' individualized needs.
  • Expand Need-Based Financial Aid: Funding has been requested to assist with maintaining affordability and access for students through increased student financial assistance to need-based undergraduates. If obtained, this additional funding will help the University maintain reasonable tuition and fees and overall affordability for residents of the Commonwealth. According to data provided by SCHEV, Radford University is the third lowest total cost provider in 2017-2018 when considering tuition, fees, and room and board charges. Over the last decade, the number of Radford undergraduate students eligible for need-based financial aid has grown by 63 percent. During that same time, the percent of unmet need for undergraduates has grown from 18 percent to 28 percent.
  • Support Capital Outlay (Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity): The need for modernized academic space and replacement of aging infrastructure continues to be a priority for Radford University. The single greatest capital outlay need for Radford University is the creation of the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity. The new facility, which would replace McGuffey Hall and Porterfield Hall, will provide space for a radically different approach to visual and performing arts and health education through interdisciplinary research.
  • Support Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of New Facilities: Funding has been requested to support the operation and maintenance (O&M) costs for recently opened facilities, including the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Building. Providing additional general fund support for this purpose ensures costs associated with opening new facilities are covered without increasing costs for students and their families.
  • Strengthen Economic Development: Funding has been requested to establish the Office of Adult, Corporate and Community Education Services (ACCESS), which would serve as a central hub for advanced adult learning and professional development in Southwest Virginia. Addressing workforce development and a changing student population are two critical issues faced by Virginia four-year public institutions. Therefore, Radford University is actively coordinating an effort on campus to help train individuals with the proper knowledge and skills sought by employers, not only by today's standards, but into the future.

Throughout the legislative session, which began last week, Radford University officials will be embracing every opportunity to build support for the aforementioned priorities, as well as salary increases for faculty and staff and additional funding support for academic programs, student services and general operating costs. And, on January 24-25, 2018, a group of dedicated and talented students will travel to Richmond to meet with various elected officials to solicit support for the University's strategic efforts in these areas. As the session evolves, you are encouraged to monitor bills that may impact public higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia, specifically Radford University, please visit the Government Relations page to access the most up-to-date information.

Although the Spring semester begins today, there are many individuals and groups who have been working diligently over the past few months and weeks to build momentum for special initiatives and exciting projects. For example, the Highlander Discovery Institute Steering Committee has been meeting in order to bring a world-renowned speaker to our campus during Fall 2018 and annually thereafter in order to provide the campus and the community with the opportunity to experience new ideas and ways of thinking. This campus-wide group, under the leadership of Drs. Tim Channell and Angela Joyner, is requesting your assistance in identifying preeminent speakers from around the world for this exciting initiative. To provide your feedback, please complete the online survey. Additionally, Dr. Joe Wirgau, in collaboration with the Highlander Research Rookies Working Group, has been meeting to establish the framework for apprenticeships to be awarded to select high-achieving and highly-motivated freshman and sophomore students in order to work alongside faculty members to maximize opportunities for research-based engagement and learning. These are just two examples of how our students, faculty and staff are working together to create opportunities for current and future generations of Highlanders. I am inspired by the dedication and passion exhibited by these groups and countless others.

This Spring holds great promise for Radford University and each and every one of us. Without question, Radford University has a storied history built upon strong tradition. Through implementation of our strategic plan, Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future, there is no limit to what the future holds and what we can achieve together as one Radford family. I look forward to the many opportunities to join together as a campus community throughout the semester. By working together, we will continue to transform Radford into an innovative, premier university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with a keen focus on teaching, research and service.

With Highlander Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.