Another academic year begins with the 2015 Fall Convocation
Radford University faculty, staff and administrators gathered in Pridemore Playhouse on Aug. 27 for the 2015 Fall Convocation.
The annual event kicked off the new school year by reflecting on the progress made in the previous one. In her remarks, President Penelope W. Kyle focused largely on the human achievements that have brought acclaim to the university and continued to make it a top choice for student development.
"One thing that remains constant each year is the excitement in the air as we devote ourselves to educating and engaging with our students," Kyle said.
Members of the assembly, approximately 400 strong, included several newcomers to Radford University, in addition to the university’s longer-tenured faculty and staff members.
Kyle welcomed 51 new teaching faculty, bringing the total number of filled full-time faculty positions to 457. These new members of the community come from across the country, with some from as far as Iowa, Arizona and Maine.
A special portion of the president’s remarks were dedicated to Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Scartelli, who returned to the position this summer. Scartelli came to Radford in 1981 as the program director of Music Therapy. In 1988, he assumed the role of dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, serving in that role through 2014, except during 2009-11 when he served his first term as interim provost.
Kyle also acknowledged several other individuals who assumed new positions at the university or joined the staff, including:
- Dr. Kenna Colley, dean of the College of Education and Human Development
- Dr. Jeanne Mekolichick, assistant provost for Academic Programs
- Dr. Niels Christensen, director of the Honors Academy
- Dr. Eric Lovik, director of Institutional Research, Reporting and Assessment
- Haley Marvine, head women’s lacrosse coach
- Aileen Morales, head women’s softball coach
- Stacey Turmel, director of the MBA program
- Donna Sharits, assistant vice president for University Advancement
Kyle also took a solemn moment to remember some of those that the Highlander community lost in the past year:
- Dr. Joe Jones, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
- Donna Dunn, advising coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development
- Kay Waddell, secretary of the Department of History
- Chuck Dodson, Facilities Management
- Sussie Breeden, Facilities Management
- Kristen Green, freshman
“Each one of these individuals helped make up the fabric of the Radford University community,” Kyle said. “Their friends, families and loved ones continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. I want to thank our university family that supports each other in times of sorrow.”
Kyle noted that the Donna Dunn Memorial scholarship was announced at a College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) meeting earlier in the day. The scholarship, established by CEHD faculty and staff, will help deserving education majors from Southwest Virginia with financial needs. The first award will be given in spring 2016.
Kyle also took time to update the assembly on program and individual successes:
- Stellar pass rates, all above the national average, for student licensure in several Waldron College of Health and Human Services programs such as nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
- Accreditation for the School of Nursing’s Clinical Simulation Center and re-accreditation for the bachelor and master’s programs in social work.
- A partnership with the Jefferson College of Health Science and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine to construct the Intercollegiate Anatomy Laboratory in Roanoke.
- The establishment of a new Bioethics certificate program, the first of its kind in Virginia.
- Teresa Williamson (women’s track and field, cross country) and Stephen Hudgens (men’s soccer) were voted the 2014-15 Big South Conference Female and Male Scholar-Athletes of the year. This is the first time in school history that Highlanders have won both awards in a single year.
- Men’s baseball, coached by Joe Raccuia ’95, had a record-setting season that brought national attention to the team and to the university.
- Advancement’s posting of a year-over-year increase in fiscal year giving to the university. In 2014-15, total giving was 12.5 percent more than the previous year.
Kyle also highlighted large-scale ongoing initiatives. The first was the branding and marketing campaign, which used faculty, student and alumni input to design a new plan for Radford’s outreach efforts.
The president also affirmed the university’s commitment to becoming a safe space to live, work and study. To combat campus sexual assault and harassment, a national issue, several strides have been taken. Radford University has incorporated the most up-to-date standards from the U.S. Office of Civil Rights in its new policy, asked employees to undergo further Title IX training, and established a standing task force to examine and respond to the issue of campus sexual assault.
The success and changes that have come to Radford University have resulted in further local, regional and national accolades, such as:
- Recognition by The Princeton Review as one of the "Best in the Southeast" in its "2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region" edition, the 13th time RU has been so recognized.
- A third consecutive appearance on Washington Monthly magazines “Best Bang for the Buck” institution list. Radford was named the No. 1 value in Virginia.
- A third consecutive appearance on the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings.
- Recognition on Military Times 2015 “Best for Vets: Colleges” listing of the top 100 4-year U.S. colleges and universities.
- For the sixth consecutive year, The Princeton Review listed RU as one of the 332 most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada
Kyle acknowledged that faculty success and honors are a key part of the RU story and acknowledged four currently serving RU faculty members who have won State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Awards. During the convocation, Kyle acknowledged the importance of their inspirational successes among the faculty. The recipients in attendance were:
- Dr. Jennifer Jones, 2015
- Dr. Cliff Boyd, 2008
- Dr. Donna Boyd, 2006
- Dr. Chester “Skip” Watts, 1998
"Radford University is fortunate to have hard-working faculty and staff who are also committed to the university’s mission," Kyle said.
Joined by Scartelli, Kyle presented the Radford University Foundation Faculty Awards. Each recipient identified an outstanding student to receive a scholarship in the award-winner's name. The awards and the scholarship recipients were:
- Distinguished Faculty Advising Award recipient – Dr. Carlee Bradbury, associate professor of art and faculty adviser. Her scholarship designee is Regan Chancellor.
- Administrative and Professional Excellence Award – Megan Coulter, associate registrar. Her scholarship designee is Kristina Contreras.
- Distinguished Service Award – Dr. Joseph Wirgau, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. His scholarship designee is Matti Hamed.
- Distinguished Creative Scholar Award – Dr. Richard Bay, professor of art and art education. His scholarship designee is Kaitlyn Fields.
- The Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award – Dr. Kristan Morrison, associate professor of education. Her scholarship designee is Amanda Coburn.
In closing, Kyle reflected on the university’s accomplishments during her tenure, which comes to a close at the end of this academic year. She reminded the assembly that those accomplishments didn’t belong to her alone.
“In spite of all they wish you could do, you cannot do things by yourself,” she said, thanking the assembled faculty and staff for their partnership in transforming the campus. Kyle encouraged all in attendance to actively participate in the search for the next president and also introduced members of the Presidential Search Committee.
Kyle then welcomed the faculty and staff guests at a reception at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center Multipurpose Activity Court after the Convocation to celebrate a new academic year and acknowledge their contribution to the university's successes last year.