RU Family Reunites at Winter Homecoming

Group of young alumni

A Young Alumni Reunion was a new addition to this year's festivities. Bright red buttons identified individuals as members of the Classes of 2001-11. For more photos, visit our Facebook gallery.

The Radford University community—alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends —reminisced and renewed ties at the Winter Homecoming 2012 celebration Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24–25, and explored RU's expanding campus. For the first time, the annual event featured a Young Alumni Reunion for the classes of 2001–11.

"There is just something about Radford, I always want to come back," said Brian Taugher '09, a criminal justice major from Lynchburg. "It is perfect—people, size, scenery."  

The festivities began Friday, when alumni returned to the classroom to share their experiences and advice with current students as part of Alumni Teaching Day. Wisdom and experience flowed from 23 guest professors in more than 50 classrooms across campus. Among the professions represented were publishers, portfolio managers, judges, authors and entrepreneurs.

Robert Bowman '90, an executive with Edelman Financial Services, returned to teach Professor Steven Beach's global portfolio wealth management class and talk about his experience in the financial planning and investment management field. He reminisced as well, recalling his days in Peery Hall, where he met his wife, Mona '91, and the entry-level job that launched his financial career, literally in the basement of a downtown Richmond skyscraper.   

"I am you," he said. "I sat where you sit and have done what you are doing. I am just 20 years ahead of you, so I will tell you what I've found."

Now responsible for a portfolio valued at more than $7 billion, Bowman talked investment strategies and shared some observations on the current and future economic environment. "The opportunity set is always expanding," he said. "It is moving forward so much faster, and now it is less restrained by borders than ever before."

Hawe and Ngongba

RU Hall of Famer and former women's basketball coach Pat Barrett '69 (left) and current Head Coach Taj Ngongba pose before the alumni games. For more photos, visit our Facebook gallery.

Other Friday activities included a pep rally and a night at the Hawes Studio Theatre featuring "The Voice of The Prairie," a play by John Olive. Seen through the eyes of two vagabond children, the drama explores how the medium of radio transformed the American landscape.

A popular destination through the weekend was the RU Art Museum, where the exhibition “Goya, Dali, Warhol: Masterpieces of World Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art” is on display through early March. To explore Earth and the galaxies beyond, the Museum of the Earth Sciences and the RU Planetarium also hosted special shows for alumni, their families and guests. 

A novel addition to the year's homecoming lineup was the Honors Academy meeting at which the general public and both current and former students shared their ideas about what the program’s future should be.

At the Dedmon Center, Homecoming 2012 featured plenty of hoops action. Almost 30 former RU men's and women's players returned for Friday's alumni basketball showdowns. RU Hall of Famers Pat Barrett, Doug Day, Stephanie Howard, Anne Sluder and Pebbles Smith were joined by other Highlander notables, including Don Burgess, Ryan Charles, Corrie Fertitta and Amir Johnson, for a pair of hard-fought and spirited games.

"This is very special for both of us," said Jim Zemonek '82, who with wife Catherine '84 was on campus for the weekend's activities. "It is always amazing to come back and see how much the campus has changed yet how beautiful it remains."  

Zemonek had the distinction of scoring the first basket for RU men's basketball in the Dedmon Center when it opened in 1981 and is a regular player at the annual alumni hoops game.

In a different test of stamina, 250 alumni, students and community members took a bracing dunk Saturday morning during the third annual Highlander Polar Plunge. The riverbank at Dudley’s Landing in Radford's Bisset Park was crowded with onlookers and well-wishers as the swimmers splashed quickly in and out of the brisk New River waters to raise more than $30,000 for the Special Olympics of the New River Valley.

Taking part in the plunge was Men's Soccer Head Coach Marc Reeves, who said he and his players didn't need much coaxing to plunge in for a great cause.

The brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity brave the icy waters of the New River

The brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity brave the icy waters of the New River during the third annual Highlander Polar Plunge. All proceeds raised by students, alumni and community members benefited the Special Olympics.

"It makes you proud as a coach that the players want to do the right thing," Reeves said. "They want to be involved in their community. They want to give back, and they know how fortunate they are."

Despite howling, blustery winds and frigid temperatures, Reeves said, the adrenaline ran high, as with any pregame moment.

"When we go into a contest, we prepare our team physically, mentally and emotionally to be ready to play. It's more of a mental aspect with a little bit of toughness," Reeves said with a smile. "It's a great team-bonding opportunity too—if one goes in, we all go in."

Capping the weekend's activities were two home basketball games, with the women defeating UNC Asheville 79-67 and Charleston Southern using a late run to hold off the men's team 65-59. Before the doubleheader tipped off, alumni, faculty, staff and friends assembled in the Dedmon Center volleyball court for the HOOPla BBQ Bash, which provided the opportunity to reflect and reminisce about time spent at Radford University. 

"There have been plenty of changes for sure," said Ed Zimmerman '85, a biology major from Fredericksburg and author of the recently published "Your Leadership Map," which draws on his 20-year career in the U.S. Army. "It is a pleasure to remember how you met people and bonded with them."


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Feb 26, 2012
Don Bowman