RU kick starts new academic year with 2013 Fall Convocation

Radford University formally began its new academic year Thursday with the 2013 Fall Convocation in Preston Hall's Bondurant Auditorium.

RU President Penelope W. Kyle addressed an enthusiastic crowd by welcoming new faculty and administrators, recognizing the achievements of professors, staff and students, and providing updates about campus developments.

"It cannot be over-stated: our people – our committed faculty, our dedicated staff and our enthusiastic students – all of us Highlanders – are what make Radford University such a special place," Kyle stated. "Radford is often known as ‘student-focused,' that our faculty and staff take a keen interest in teaching and mentoring our students, and that our students recognize and appreciate that commitment to them. I think it is this focus that distinguishes Radford from other universities."

Kyle noted the university is anticipating a freshman class of more than 2,000 students for the fall semester. It would be the third consecutive year RU has enrolled a freshman class of that size. The president said those freshmen could boost the university's total enrollment to more than 9,500 full time equivalent students for the fall semester.

President Kyle also noted that 50 new teaching faculty members would be joining the RU faculty this year, resulting in a total of 436 teaching faculty members, the most that RU has had in more than 20 years. "You, our faculty, are the heart of this institution," Kyle said.

President Kyle with Thomas Pierce, Analise Roccaforte, and Sam Minner

President Penelope W. Kyle, Professor of Psychology Thomas Pierce (the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award winner), Psychology student Analise Roccaforte (scholarship recipient) and Provost Sam Minner at the 2013 Fall Convocation.

The president also acknowledged new administrators, staff members and athletics coaches.

Kyle highlighted the numerous accomplishments and recognitions the university has received in the past year. Atop the list was the university's reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which led to the creation of RU's Quality Enhancement Plan, including the Scholar-Citizen Initiative. Kyle specifically acknowledged Pat Shoemaker, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, for her service as the SACS liaison.

The president lauded Moira Baker, English professor and director of Women's Studies, who was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Grant to lecture in Croatia in the 2013-14 academic year.

Continuing to reflect on the successes of the past year, Kyle reminded the gathering that the College of Business and Economics (COBE) maintained its accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an acknowledgement of excellence that has been earned by less than five percent of the world's business schools in 45 countries. Kyle said the accreditation is "indicative of a culture of continuous improvement and ongoing innovation in our College of Business and Economics."

In the past year, Kyle stated, RU's Doctor of Psychology program earned accreditation from the American Psychological Association's Commission on Accreditation and was honored by the Virginia Rural Health Association with its Best Practices in Rural Health Award.

The president also noted the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) had recognized RU's Wintermester program for its innovation in higher education by offering online programs during the winter break.

Kyle acknowledged and praised faculty members who, over the last fiscal year, have been awarded more than $5.3 million from external sources to fund research, travel and educational outreach programs. "Congratulations to everyone for your hard work in seeking those grants and funding that allow us to do so much here at Radford University," Kyle said.

Reviewing even more highlights from the previous academic year, Kyle cited the university's recognitions from The Princeton Review, which included RU among 138 institutions in its "Best in the Southeast" section in the "2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region" edition and ranked RU among the nation's "Best-Value Colleges." The Princeton Review also recognized RU in its Guide to 322 Green Colleges and the College of Business and Economics in its "Best 296 Business Schools" listing. Kyle also noted RU earned top marks for teacher preparation from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Citing their hard work and dedication, Kyle praised some of the student achievements from the past year, including a team of eight undergraduate students who were recognized at the 9th Annual National Sustainability Design Expo in Washington, D.C., for their innovative approach to water purification. Kyle cited student recognitions in cyber-security competitions and student athletes who, for the third time in five years, attained the Big South Conference's highest percentage of Presidential Honor Roll citations among the 12-member institutions.

Kyle also noted RU women's soccer player Megan Rhodes was named the female 2012-13 Big South Scholar Athlete of the Year.

"We know what the words 'student athlete' mean," Kyle proudly said.

Looking toward the future, Kyle noted RU's dedication to encouraging prospective students to embrace scholarship through summer events and programs on campus such as Virginia Boys State, the Summer Bridge program and the Virginia Summer Residential Governor's School in the Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts.

Later this year, five Radford University faculty members will compete for the 2014 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Awards. During the convocation, Kyle introduced each RU nominee, which included Niels Christensen, associate professor of psychology; Matthew Dunleavy, interim vice provost of academic affairs; Angela Stanton, associate professor of marketing; Jolanta Wawryzcka, professor of English; and Rising Star nominee Elizabeth Lanter, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders.

Kyle updated the faculty on numerous construction projects and improvements taking place on campus, including the 114,000 square-foot, $32.5 million Student Fitness and Wellness Center projected to be completed in the fall of 2014 and the $49 million Center for the Sciences. The president also noted the recent completion of the $9.9 million Washington Hall renovation.

Kyle said the work of the university is far from over and encouraged those in attendance to strive to improve Radford University.  Part of that effort she said comes from "telling our stories of success."
"You, me, we –we are RU. We should not be inhibited in telling what I think is a great story, the story of Radford University," Kyle said. "And no one can tell it better that we. So, I encourage all of you to be part of spreading the word about this great institution."

Kyle and Provost Sam Minner presented the Radford University Foundation faculty awards for exceptional performance. Each recipient identified an outstanding student to receive a scholarship in her or his name. The recipients and their awards were:

  • Johnathan Phillips, RN-BSN coordinator in the School of Nursing, the Distinguished Faculty Advising Award. His scholarship was awarded to Gwendolyn Spangler.
  • Lora Gordon, university photographer in the Office of University Relations, Award for Administrative and Professional Excellence. Her scholarship was awarded to Hannah Ennis.
  • Beverly Zeakes, professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, Distinguished Service Award. Her scholarship was awarded to Kristal Bird.
  • Alexei Orlov, associate professor of economics, Distinguished Creative Scholar. His scholarship was awarded to Mary Santoroski.
  • Erin Berman, instructor in the School of Communication, Anna Lee Stewart Award for Contributions to Faculty Development. Her scholarship was awarded to Brittany Taylor.
  • Thomas W. Pierce, professor of psychology, Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor. His scholarship was awarded to Analise Roccaforte.

Kyle thanked John Cox, executive director of the RU Foundation, for the Foundation's financial support of the scholarship awards.

In closing, Kyle introduced Dennis Grady, who serves of interim dean of the College of Business and Economics and leads RU's sponsored programs, to present the Million-Dollar Award winners, each of whom secured funding of $1 million or more for university programs and initiatives. They are:

  • Virginia Burggraf, professor in the School of Nursing, $1,543,179
  • Virginia Bussey and Leslie McArthur Fox, co-chairs of the Training and Technical Assistance Center, More than $3,000,000.

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Aug 23, 2013
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761