Bringing a Bold Vision to Life


In January 2018, Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., joined with executives from Carilion Clinic and Jefferson College of Health Sciences to announce a bold endeavor to improve healthcare in the region and the commonwealth of Virginia.

Now, that bold vision has nearly come to life.


The initiative merging the two institutions is expected to be completed in July, with the first class of new Highlanders being welcomed on August 26, coinciding with the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

The synergy powering this new healthcare education center is reflected in the name: Radford University Carilion.

Radford University, known for healthcare education and service, joins Carilion Clinic, synonymous with healthcare excellence and service. Jefferson College of Health Sciences is an arm of Carilion Clinic that will be folded into Radford University as a result of the merger. The new name captures the unity of two organizations joined in a public-private partnership that will prepare the students to become healthcare providers who confidently serve their communities, hospitals, clinics and families.

This emergent regional healthcare education center will distinctively enhance the quality of healthcare education and provide unparalleled access to clinical experiences and research opportunities.

A transition team of more than 100 campus and community leaders have worked tirelessly to blend two healthy academic institutions and distinct cultures since the announcement of the merger initiative in January 2018. These efforts have been led by an executive committee of President Hemphill, Jefferson College of Health Sciences President Nathaniel L. Bishop ’88, D.Min., and Carilion CEO Nancy Agee, among other leaders.

The partnership has received a tremendous outpouring of support. During the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session, members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia unanimously voted to approve the merger of Jefferson College of Health Sciences into Radford University. The endorsement was signed by Governor Ralph Northam on February 19 and will become effective July 1. The bills’ chief patrons, Delegate Nick Rush and Senator Bill Carrico, have been longtime champions of education and opportunity.

Legislative support of this merger, based on the potential positive impact for all Virginians, provides critical momentum toward completion of the merger. Radford University Carilion, which combines the two organizations’ proud heritages and distinguished faculty and staff, has elicited support from other critical partners, including Governor Northam, leadership in the House and the Senate, the Roanoke Valley area legislative delegation and state agency leaders and staff, especially the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Regional accreditor approval is a critical final component. A prospectus for the merger was submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting body for both Jefferson College of Health Sciences and Radford University. The SACSCOC Board of Trustees’ next scheduled meeting is in June. Pending SACSCOC approval, the merger is slated for completion in mid-July.

As the successful completion of the merger is anticipated in the near future, the Radford and Jefferson College of Health Sciences families have taken intentional steps towards getting to know each other better.

On April 9, dozens of Jefferson College of Health Sciences students, faculty and staff made the trip to the main Radford University campus to watch the baseball team take on VMI. This time spent together involved a picnic-style meal, opportunities to connect and the chance to cheer proudly for the Highlanders as one cohesive group.

Radford University also participated in the final Jefferson College of Health Sciences Spirit Day on April 22. This time of celebration allowed everyone to collectively honor the strong legacy of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, while also looking eagerly toward the future of the combined institutions.   

Watch all the excitement from this year's Jefferson College of Health Sciences Spirit Day. 

May 10, 2019