Board of Visitors holds quarterly meeting

The Radford University Board of Visitors (BOV) held its quarterly meeting on Sept. 12-13 at Radford University.

The board heard updates on the university's enrollment, retention progress, academics, capital projects, information technology initiatives, athletics, student affairs and fundraising.

The board approved a new six-year strategic plan, a $202-million operating budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year and a mutual aid agreement with area law enforcement agencies.

The BOV also elected its officers for the coming year. Linda Whitley-Taylor '86 was re-elected Rector for a second one-year term and Mary Waugh Campbell '71 was elected Vice Rector. The board also welcomed three new members: Callie Dalton '82 of Roanoke, Michael Hurt '94 of Midlothian and Alethea "A.J." Robinson of Bluefield.

RU President Penelope W. Kyle reported to the board on significant campus events and developments that have occurred since the board's meeting in May and on major upcoming events and plans. She highlighted the University’s first-ever hosting of Virginia Boys State, as well as the Virginia Summer Residential Governor's Schools in the Humanities and the Visual and Performing Arts, and the Summer Bridge programs, all of which brought an estimated 1,300 high school students to the Radford University campus.

President Kyle recounted Fall Convocation, her address to the faculty and staff before the commencement of the academic year. She briefed the board that this academic year brings 50 new faculty, bringing the total number of faculty to 436 full-time teaching faculty members, the most at the University in more than 20 years.

The president shared with the board recognition that Radford University received since the last update in May:

  • The Princeton Review named RU as one of the "Best in the Southeast" in its "2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region" edition.
  • Radford University was recognized as one of only 13 programs in the United States with "multiple strong programs" in teacher preparation in a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality.
  • RU was ranked as one of the top 100 producers of degrees awarded to minority students in five specific majors in a report produced by "Diverse: Issues in Higher Education."
  • Radford University was named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The honor roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

The Academic Affairs Committee was briefed that RU's fall 2013 enrollment was 9,928 students, setting a school record. The fall 2013 enrollment includes 8,913 undergraduate and 1,015 graduate full-time and part-time students. The university’s enrollment has increased yearly since fall 2009 for a total of 1,050 students. University officials noted that this trend has taken place during a period in which national college enrollment declined in the fall of 2012 for the first time in six years, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report. Additionally, retention among the returning freshmen class of 2016 increased by four percent, compared to the previous year, and is the highest since fall 2008.

President Kyle with the current Board of Visitors

Pictured front row, left to right, are: Kevin R. Dye, M.D., Milton C. Johns, Rector Linda K. Whitley-Taylor, Vice Rector Mary Waugh Campbell and Sandra C. Davis. Second row, left to right: Callie M. Dalton, Michael S. Hurt, Faculty Representative Laura Jacobsen, Matthew B. Crisp, President Penelope W. Kyle, Georgia Anne Snyder-Falkinham, Ruby W. Rogers, Alethea "A.J." Robinson and Michael A. Wray. Not pictured: Stephan Q. Cassaday, Anthony R. Bedell and Student Representative Katrina Koussis.

Upon recommendation of the Business Affairs and Audit Committee, the board passed both the annual budget and a six year plan. The six year plan contains strategic objectives that include:

  • funding and implementing programs and initiatives intended to enhance student success, retention and graduation
  • requesting funds to provide financial aid to assist low and middle income students
  • developing STEM-H programs in science and technology, allied health programs and Communication Sciences programs
  • expanding RU's GAMeS Lab

As part of briefings to the board, Faculty Senate President Laura Jacobsen, associate professor of teacher education and leadership, reviewed the results of RU's participation in a survey on faculty job satisfaction. Areas of strength identified were satisfaction with colleagues, departmental leadership, the local area and "fit" among the RU faculty community.

In addition, the board approved the location and construction of two facilities totaling $8.5 million – an intramural field complex and an indoor softball/baseball batting practice facility. The intramural fields, with artificial and natural turf surfaces, will accommodate increased student demand for athletic playing fields. The fields will complement the new Student Fitness and Wellness Center that is currently under construction on campus. Planned for the nine-acre site of the former Burlington Industries' facility on East Main Street, the complex of fields will provide more convenient access for RU students who participate in RU's popular intramural and club sports. The softball/baseball batting practice facility is to be located on the Dedmon Center Athletic campus, positioned in closer proximity to the respective stadiums.

The Business Affairs and Audit Committee received an update on the university's ongoing capital projects. Currently underway are construction of a $32 million, 110,000-square-foot Student Fitness and Wellness Center slated for completion in fall 2014 and a $49.5 million, 114,000-square-foot Center for the Sciences that is slated to open in the spring 2015. Other capital projects reviewed were the proposed academic building to house the College of Humanities and Behavior Sciences, which has received approval to begin project planning, and the recently-completed renovations to the Washington residence hall.

The Governance, Administration and Athletics Committee received an overview of the RU athletic program's fall opening activities that included the Welcome Back Student-Athletes' dinner and the beginning of the fall season's games and matches. The theme of the 2013-2014 RU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is "Will to Win, Desire to Succeed," and RU is building upon a successful year in which it earned honors from the Big South Conference for its academic honor roll and community service achievements. Renovations to the softball field are ongoing as is construction of a new athletic video room for team use. The committee also received updates on a series of initiatives by the university's Division of Information Technology, including a new "Telepresence" video conferencing system, which is one of only five within the state's university campuses.

The Student Affairs Committee reviewed the university's move-in weekend activities that included nearly 600 student, faculty and staff volunteers helping more than 2000 students enter the residence halls to begin the fall semester. The move-in day activities were the beginning of a six-week program of events to help incoming students acclimate to the college environment and create a welcoming and supportive environment. Events like Club Fair, at which over a record-high 253 clubs and organization with nearly 4,000 student participants reached out to the campus, and the “Step Up!” Bystander Intervention program were other programs discussed that complement the university's efforts to encourage retention of new students and support its enrollment management objectives.

RU senior Katrina Koussis, the student representative to the BOV, briefed board members about proposals that may complement RU’s efforts proposed to support increase student retention and graduation rates.

Objectives for an integrated branding and marketing proposal under development and the university's fundraising and alumni outreach activities were among the topics of presentations made to the University Advancement, Alumni Relations and Communications and Marketing Committee. The committee also received an end-of-year update on fundraising results vs. goals for 2012-2013 and heard proposals for advancement and alumni relations goals for 2013-2014.

The board concluded its two-day meeting by passing unanimous resolutions thanking four departing board members for their service: Nancy E. Artis '73, J. Brandon Bell, II, Darius A. Johnson and Wendy Tepper. The resolutions offer the university's gratitude for their service and commitment to Radford University during their tenures on the Board of Visitors.

The next meeting of the Radford University Board of Visitors is currently scheduled for Nov. 7-9 on the university campus.

Radford University is a comprehensive public university of more than 9,900 students. RU serves the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation through a wide range of academic, cultural, human service, and research programs. Well known for its strong faculty/student bonds, innovative use of technology in the learning environment and vibrant student life on a beautiful 191-acre American classical campus, Radford University offers students many opportunities to get involved and succeed in and out of the classroom. The university offers 69 degree programs at the undergraduate level, and 21 master's programs and three doctoral programs at the graduate level. A Division I member of the NCAA and Big South Athletic Conference, Radford participates in 19 varsity sports—11 for women and eight for men. Since 2005, the university has secured approval and funding for nearly $300 million in capital projects, including both new construction and renovation.

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Sep 15, 2013
Don Bowman
(540) 831-7523