Teaching the spirit of philanthropy.
Verlander Foundation and Radford University partner to address teacher shortage.
Center takes athletic training and conditioning to a new level.
Bedford Community Health Foundation provides scholarships for nursing students.
If you walked around campus on Nov. 16, 2016, you no doubt saw numerous signs posted throughout University grounds and inside buildings. These signs, or “tags,” carried information on them that highlighted the impact philanthropy has had on each student’s college experience.
“We wanted to educate students about philanthropy by bringing tangibility to it,” said Assistant Director of Annual Giving Crystal Hubbard ’00, MBA ’08. “The room you are studying in bears the name of someone who cared. As a student, you normally don’t think — or even know — about that fact.”
Teaching Annual Giving Day, or TAG Day, was Hubbard’s brainchild. She wanted to introduce students to the importance of philanthropy in a way that would resonate with her target audience. “To put it in front of them and gamify it, so to speak,” she explained. Thus, TAG Day was born.
On Nov. 16, tags were posted at various locations across campus which best exemplified how private donations make a difference to Radford University. Students were then invited to take a selfie with as many tags as possible. Each TAG Day selfie entered the student into a raffle to either watch a home men’s basketball game or have lunch — student’s choice — with Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill. “We felt this was a great way to get the new president involved with the students,” Hubbard explained.
Raffle winners were also able to designate a $500 gift, generously donated by the Radford Athletics Club, to the club, team, program or department fund of their choice. Junior Ashleigh Cochran won the scavenger hunt raffle and designated the group Disciples on Campus, of which she is a member, to receive the donation. Cochran, majoring in deaf education, said that she thought participating in the scavenger hunt “was a great way to support my group.”
Cochran also chose to have lunch with President Hemphill. “President Hemphill seems really cool and I wanted to learn more about him,” she said.
Students were also encouraged to sign a TAG Day banner and give their thanks to supporters via video message. The banner, which held the messages and signatures of well over 100 students, was ultimately hung from the walking bridge between Dalton Hall and Heth Hall.
While TAG Day was Hubbard’s idea, she is quick to point out that it would never have happened had it not been for the work of several different Radford University departments.
“We started planning TAG Day over the summer. We had a scavenger hunt raffle, a banner, a thank you video, 15 different building tags, and 12 different campus signs as well as the prizes for the raffle,” she explained.
“TAG Day had a lot of moving parts and required assistance from numerous Radford University areas: University Relations, Web Communications and Strategy, Facilities Management, the Office of the President. Without the collaboration of those departments, we wouldn’t have had a TAG Day.”
As for whether or not she felt the months of work it took to bring TAG Day to life had been worth it, Hubbard maintained her characteristic optimism.
“If even one student better understands the impact that philanthropy has had on their education, then I believe it was a success. They can then pass that message on to others.”
Nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the Rappahannock River lies one of Virginia’s oldest, and smallest,counties. Located almost 300 miles from Radford, Lancaster County is home to approximately 11,000 people — including three Radford University student teachers.
“The George W. Verlander and Cornelia M. Verlander Memorial Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Radford University,” explains Kenna Colley, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “The primary focus of the foundation is supporting Lancaster County, which has been suffering from a lack of qualified teachers.
In the fall of 2015, Colley and members of the University Advancement team drove nearly six hours to Virginia’s northern neck in order to meet with members of the Verlander Foundation board, as well as other members of the Lancaster County community, in order to see if the College of Education and Human Development could help with the area’s teacher shortage.
“Jack Neal, president of the Verlander Foundation, pulled in about 10 to 15 people from the community to meet with us and come up with some ways to attract teachers to the area,” says Colley. “They had some creative ideas, including housing, signing bonuses and a year of free sailing lessons.”
What brought the most amount of interest, ultimately, was a partnership between the foundation, Radford University and Lancaster County Public Schools.
“The Verlander Foundation would offer $5,000 scholarships to Radford University students who agreed to work in the Lancaster School system during their year of student teaching,” Colley explains. “The hope was that the students would then agree to take a full-time position with the school system upon graduation.”
The process to apply for the scholarship was not like any other. “Interested students had to travel to Lancaster County for a school visit, tour and a mock interview with school administrators,” Colley says. “We started with 42 interested students, reduced that number to six students for the school visit and interview, and ultimately had three students receive scholarships.”
The three students, elementary education majors Christabelle D’Silva ’17 and Deanna Friedel ’17 and English education major Allyson Umstead ’17, graduated from Radford University in May and have each received verbal offers to stay with Lancaster County Public Schools.
“I really enjoyed this experience. I feel secure in my future thanks to the scholarship and a job offer,” says D’Silva. “This experience has been a wonderful journey for my career. I was lucky enough to interview so early on in the semester — January — and within a week, I was offered a fourth-grade teaching position.
I really enjoyed this experience. I feel secure in my future thanks to the scholarship and job offer."
“Not a lot of college students get offered positions so early on in the game. I am so excited for the future,” she adds.
“This scholarship allowed me to take my first big steps out from under my parents’ umbrella and into the ‘grown-up’ world,” explains Friedel. “I was able to move out and get an apartment, as well as not worry about paying for textbooks, classroom supplies and several other expenses that came with my student teaching semester.
“The whole process has taught me tips on how to interview, what different schools and school systems look like and has provided me confidence in my ability to be a future teacher,” Friedel continues.
The first year of the partnership has been such a success that Colley may have unintentionally created some competition.
“Our partnership model is now being used by other universities,” says Colley. “Others want to use the model, which is fine. My job is to bring scholarship money to our students and to supply the state with high-quality teachers.”
With budget cuts to public school systems increasing and populations in Virginia’s rural counties decreasing, innovative collaborations such as this between donors, school systems and universities will be necessary to combat the teacher shortage. Colley recognizes the situation that school systems are confronting.
“The state is facing critical teacher shortages in the areas of math, science and special education,” she explains. “We want to create a pipeline for our students, especially in high demand areas. Our school systems are struggling right now, and we need to work together with them in order to solve this crisis.”
Center takes athletic training and conditioning to a new level
Radford Athletics’ strength and conditioning motto is “better yourself to better the team.” Now, Highlander student-athletes have a new and improved space to prepare for success in competition.
Radford University student-athletes are challenged every day to perform at the highest level in the classroom and on the practice field and compete for championships. Strength and conditioning are the cornerstone of successful programs.
Thanks to dedicated Radford University Athletics fans and supporters, more than $220,000 has been raised to help create the new Sports Performance Center in what was formerly the pool area of the Dedmon Center. The difference between the upgraded space and the previous weight room is striking.
“This center helps current and future athletes tremendously. It gives us a big advantage compared to other mid-major schools. We now have areas to work on things we never could before. With injuries always a possibility, I think having a state-of-the-art facility is all the advantage. Not only will our new weight room helps us, but more importantly, the new training room keeps us safe and healthy,” said Danny Hrbek ’17, a recently-graduated baseball pitcher from Effort, Pennsylvania.
“The first time (student-athletes) came in, they were like a kid coming down the stairs and seeing what Santa left for them,” Assistant Athletic Director for Sport Performance Scott Bennett said. “They loved it. A lot of times their workouts are not easy. To give them something to be excited about and have a little ‘wow’ factor, that’s a great feeling to be able to provide that.”
Starting with the most basic comparison of size, the new facility nearly quadruples the square footage, from 4,200 to about 16,000, and makes it one of the largest performance centers for a school of Radford University’s size. The center provides more room for workout equipment, and athletes are able to have space as they train. Because of the extra square footage, the cardio and Nautilus machines, previously in storage, are now being fully utilized by student-athletes.
However, the most significant upgrade is the wide-open turf area in the center that provides an additional training area that can be used as an alternative to the Dedmon Center court, the baseball and softball hitting facility, or in case of bad weather, outside. The soccer and lacrosse teams have used it for drills. Volleyball has taken advantage of the softer surface for jumping work; basketball as a warm-up area before games; and baseball and softball can use it and the weights at the same time without having to change buildings.
Along with making the workouts themselves more efficient, the additional space has made coordinating schedules among the teams easier.
“People don’t think 15 or 20 minutes is a big deal. As tight as our schedules are, it is a big deal. You don’t want to have to start anything at 5:30 in the morning,” Bennett said.
The other very noticeable improvement is the aesthetics of the room itself, with its open floor plan and natural light flowing through the roof and windows.
“It just gives them a whole new outlook on training,” Bennett said. “They’re excited about working in here, and you have the feeling as a student-athlete that the coaching staff, the administration, everybody here is behind us and wants us to have a great experience.”
Additionally, larger television screens displaying all of the different workouts have been added, and the plan is to upgrade the sound system. The two departments are also collaborating on a program emphasizing nutrition, with the hope of eventually putting a nutrition bar inside the new facility.
“It’s all about the young people and giving them a firs-tclass facility to train in, making sure we’re doing the right things with them, and giving them plenty of room to do what they need to do to get better,” Bennett said.
Bedford Community Health Foundation provides scholarships for nursing students
Since 2011, Radford University’s School of Nursing and the Bedford Community Health Foundation have engaged in a partnership that has allowed nursing students to receive valuable clinical experience while also providing Bedford residents with an ever-increasing pool of health professionals.
“In order to graduate, nursing students need to have clinical experience in realworld health care environments,” explains Mary Wiley, program officer with the Bedford Community Health Foundation. “Unfortunately, this can mean increased expenses for the students by way of travel and housing. The Bedford Community Health Foundation grant helps offset those expenses.”
The grant is awarded to Radford University School of Nursing graduate and undergraduate students who agree to do their clinical work in the Bedford area. “Frequently, if a student performs their clinical in this area, they will be hired upon graduation,” explains Wiley.
One such student is Amy Johnson, D.N.P. ’13, who was the first recipient of the grant in 2011. “I was doing my clinical hours with Dr. Leonard Cohen at Eastlake Medical Center in Huddleston,” Johnson says. “I spent three semesters with him, learning about his patients, his practice and developing skills alongside him. When I graduated, he offered me a full-time position and six weeks following graduation, I began my full-time career working in collaboration with Dr. Cohen as a nurse practitioner.
“Because of my two years spent there as a student, I had a patient base that knew me, was comfortable with me and willing to accept me as their health care provider,” she adds. “I could not have asked for an easier entry into my career.” Today, Johnson works with Centra Medical Group – Bedford, located inside Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital.
Shannon Dechant, D.N.P. ’17, a 2016-17 recipient of the Bedford Community Health Foundation grant, says, “The scholarship was a blessing to my family. I am married andhave two small children. I work full-time as a nurse, and it helped eliminate the need for picking up additional shifts at work. This allowed me to have more time with my family during such a busy season in our lives.”
Dechant continues, “I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with Mary Wiley and was able to hear about all the wonderful things the Bedford Community Health Foundation does for the community.”
...a good investment for the Bedford community."
“The Foundation board believed that this would be a good investment for the Bedford community,” Wiley explains. “That is why we have awarded the grant every year since 2011.”
According to Wiley, when the program began in 2011, the Foundation awarded $2,000 to Johnson. For the 2016-17 year, a total of $10,000 was awarded to three Radford University nursing students.
“Working, attending graduate school and raising a child is tough, so this grant allowed me to continue with my proposed plan of study without delays,” says May 2017 Doctor of Nursing Practice graduate and grant recipient Anne Saunier.
“I ended up working with several providers in the Bedford area for the last two years,” Saunier explains. “This has been a wonderful experience to precept with doctors and nurse practitioners in the community in which I live, work and raise my family.
“I feel there will be numerous opportunities in Bedford for me to practice in a variety of care settings and give back to my Bedford family. I would not hesitate to take a job opportunity in Bedford.”
Which is exactly what Wiley and the Bedford Community Health Foundation want to hear.
“I believe that this partnership has been very successful. When I speak to the students, they are very appreciative,” she says.