Former Dean Linville Reflects on His Career at a Crossroad

Raymond Linville and Tony Ramsey

Raymond Linville meets with Tony Ramsey over breakfast as he prepares to make the transition from dean to faculty member.

As Raymond Linville transitions back into the classroom after serving as dean of Radford University's Waldron College of Health and Human Services, he is lauded by his colleagues and campus administrators as a visionary, an advocate, a man of integrity and faith, and a friend.

Linville will officially leave his post at the end of the summer and return to the faculty in the Departments of Physical Therapy and Communication Sciences and Disorders. At that time, he will be on a one-semester study leave to write a book about the importance of leadership skills to new faculty members, develop new courses, and rejuvenate his laboratory located in Waldron Hall.

Linville led the Waldron College through six years of great challenges and greater opportunities. He takes pride in having served as dean during the time when Radford became a doctoral university. Two of the first doctoral degrees—the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Doctor of Physical Therapy, as well as the new Master of Occupational Therapy degree were initiated with his guidance.

"Certainly the times of the greatest pride were the addition of the new D.N.P., D.P.T. and M.O.T. programs," he said. "Not only were these among the first totally new programs at Radford University in decades, but they were designed and developed during some of the most austere economies in recent memory."

University President Penelope W. Kyle was instrumental in this significant accomplishment, Linville said, providing enthusiastic and continual support during the process. "Through her efforts, we managed to create three distinct and acclaimed programs."

Linville arrived on Radford's campus in 2000, quickly becoming friends with both faculty colleagues and students. He said one of the pleasures of teaching is the chance to work with students and to share their enthusiasm for learning and research. A spiritual man known for his unwavering faith and his belief that there is much good in life, he soon won the admiration of the campus community.

The former dean said a career path often takes unexpected turns, and inspiration can come from chance encounters along the way. Such was the case with Linville in his first job after college. Working as a clinical assistant at East Carolina University, he met a young man who had been diagnosed with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. "It was my initial experience with neuromotor disorders, and that patient taught me more than any teacher or book ever could. I'll be forever indebted to him," Linville said.

The young man became a mentor of sorts, teaching Linville lessons he has applied in working with his own staff at Waldron. One for whom Linville was a mentor is Kim Carter, director of Radford's School of Nursing.

"Research is blossoming in the Waldron College, and Dean Linville's support and quiet motivation contributed to our growth," Carter said. "It has been my honor and privilege to work with him, and, although he will be missed as dean, students are gaining a truly wonderful opportunity to learn from one of RU's most outstanding educators."

RU Provost Sam Minner said of Linville, "He is fully dedicated to RU students, his faculty and staff, and this great institution. He is a man of high integrity and, frankly, an inspirational leader for me and so many of my colleagues. The fact that he is not leaving us but is moving to a faculty role is a great thing for Radford."

The provost said he will miss Linville's administrative leadership, "but leadership is manifested many ways, and faculty leadership is the most powerful form in the academy."

Before coming to Radford, Linville had been a full professor and chair of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the medical school associated with Texas Tech University Lubbock. He also served as associate dean for research in the School of Allied Health Sciences at Texas Tech and before that held research positions at the University of Pittsburgh and The University of Iowa, where he completed his post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.

Linville has expertise in many areas of health care. His investigate specialty is neuroanatomy and physiology as they relate to the central nervous system, motor control and laryngeal pathologies.

Linville and his wife, Beth, moved to Virginia to be closer to family, and they have thrived personally and professionally here, he said. The couple enjoy the outdoors and never take for granted the blessings of life and the people they meet along the way, he said.

Linville refers to his wife, who is senior director in the Department of Surgery at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, as Wonder Woman. "She is so talented," he said, "and one of those natural-born leaders that I so admire."

The role of leaders and mentors will be the focus of the book Linville will be writing during his leave. "I have long held an interest in how individuals develop leadership skills and frankly am amazed how some seem to acquire it so naturally," he said.

He recounted reading the book "What Should I Do with My Life?" several years ago and sharing his thoughts about it with RU Professor Emeritus Claire Waldron. Learning more about how some people find their true calling led Linville to wonder whether the same lessons could help academic leaders. "Claire encouraged me to think about interviewing the best chairs in the country and to see if I could discern any similarities," he said.

Because of his obligations at the time, Linville had few opportunities to conduct those interviews. He hopes to do so now and to reflect on and write about leadership. Besides the book project, he will continue his neurophysiology research before returning to the classroom.

Radford nursing Professor Tony Ramsey has asked Linville to be his mentor during the spring 2013 semester, following the School of Nursing custom of selecting a mentor from among those who have served in senior roles within the Waldron College. "I have known Tony for more than 12 years," Linville said, "and when he asked, I was both honored and humbled."

"Humble" is a good description of Linville, say those who know him. Recalling his first job after high school, he said he still remembers the people he met and worked alongside at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Plant No. 12 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"The plant was infamous for being hot and dirty," he said. "I worked nine-hour days for the most part and did repetitive and mindless tasks. But the thing that I remember most is the people I worked with. Most had few opportunities to pursue an education and lived basically paycheck to paycheck, but they were the most humble and hard-working people I've ever known."

Working with those people helped to shape Raymond Linville's character, so much so that humility and hard work have become his watchwords.

Jul 11, 2012
Bonnie Q. Erickson
(540) 831-5804