Maximizing Alumni Spirit
By Jeremy Norman
There has been a renewed sense of enthusiasm among Radford University alumni that can be traced back to the inauguration of Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., as the University’s seventh president in 2016. Building upon this excitement, the Office of Alumni Relations has restructured how it interacts with alumni, forming the Radford University Alumni Association Board of Directors and bringing back the popular alumni regional chapters.
“For several years we have had amazing alumni volunteers that operated without a structure of leadership,” explained Laura Turk ’87, M.S. ’90, executive director of Alumni Relations. “These moves help give our alumni that leadership.”
Each regional chapter operates as part of the Alumni Association, which was formed as a limited liability company under the umbrella of the Radford University Foundation in 2016. The chapters — Atlanta, Charlotte, National Capital Region, New River Valley, Raleigh, Richmond, Roanoke and Tidewater — all represent areas where there is a large, and passionate, Radford University alumni base.
“It is from President Hemphill’s outreach during his 2016 alumni tour that we were able to tap into the excitement of the alumni. He was the first step from which we were able to build. The president is a big believer in regional chapters,” said Turk.
“Once the board identified where the chapters should be established, the next step was to identify leaders in the respective areas,” she continued. Every chapter has the same leadership structure, with a chapter president and a communications liaison. The responsibilities of the two positions are quite simple — identify activities in their respective areas that would be of interest to alumni and promote the University. The inaugural Alumni Volunteer Summit was held in February 2017 to show alumni how they can help the University through regional chapters.
“The Party in Elmwood Park, Radford Night at Kindred Spirit Brewing, all of the Radford University nights at minor league baseball games — these are all events whose success can be tied to the work of our regional chapters,” Turk said. “And it’s not just the events. Our regional chapters assist with admissions activities in their respective areas, as well professional speaking engagements and career fairs.”
“The regional chapters allow alumni to identify with the University in their hometown,” added Sandra Bond ’97, MBA ’00, director of alumni relations operations. “We understand the high demand for people’s time,” said Bond. “The Office of Alumni Relations will support them at every step. We can find an opportunity that fits their skillset and give them the tools for success.”
Frankie Fitzgerald ’81, M.S. ’83, president of the New River Valley Alumni Chapter, echoed that sentiment. “My wife — Hollie Fitzgerald ’05 — and I have been able to experience a lot of the events on-campus as well as engage with a lot of friends we typically would not see otherwise,” said Fitzgerald. “It is important to us to volunteer to help the New River Valley Chapter grow in order so that others may stay in touch with their alma mater.”
“One thing a local chapter does is help grow a community,” said Rita Davis ’80, communications liaison for the Charlotte Alumni Chapter. “Even though we are generationally diverse, the shared Radford University experience is always fun, and becoming friends through shared opportunities with the group motivates us to grow, spread the word to others as we meet them and to engage with one another professionally.”
Regarding the future for the regional chapters, Turk put it simply. “We want all 80,000 Highlanders to share their Radford University story, wherever they are.” Interested alumni volunteers should contact the Alumni Relations Office at 540-831-5248.