RU reading campaign highlights campus diversity

Books tell stories to transform readers' perspectives.

That powerful effect was on display Tuesday as Radford University unveiled the highlight of its RU READS: One Campus, Many Voices campaign.

Twenty-six faces of the RU community filled 26 posters on which each person revealed a book that had impacted his or her understanding of diversity. Book topics touched on religion, disability, sexual orientation and race, to name a few.

A reception featuring the posters and their star-studded readers was held in the Covington Center, where passersby browsed the eclectic exhibitions.

Participants were chosen from a pool of essay entries collected during the fall semester. They include RU students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty and staff. Each person is featured on a poster with their chosen book and a sentence on how the particular text had made a lasting impression.

Kaleice Green of Mechanicsville said she participated in RU READS to share the inspiration she felt when reading her chosen book, "The Pursuit of Happyness."

"I have recognized that the novel has motivated me to achieve more than the average," said Green, a M.S. candidate in Criminal Justice. "I have learned that I truly enjoy sharing my experience with others, because it inspires others to do better."


Kaleice Green with her poster during Tuesday's kick-off celebration of this year's RU Reads project at the Covington Center.

For senior Haley Baker, RU READS ripened her reverence for books and libraries.

"I love books. I love libraries. I love our library," said the enthusiastic social work major, who hopes to soon achieve a master's degree in library science.

Baker, who chose the novel "My Side of the Mountain," said books are "an escape."

"They have helped me get through many things in my life," she said.


Haley Baker with her mother and her poster during Tuesday's kick-off celebration of this year's RU Reads project at the Covington Center.

Junior Ian Gammarino of Floyd said promoting literature was "a life tradition."

"I was second place in a reading competition in third grade, an avid participant in my high school book club, a participant in RU’s first Living Library, and to this day, I am still trying to find ways to promote reading for pleasure," said the theatre and geology major.

Gammarino achieved that and much more through the campaign.

"Seeing that reading meant so many great things to so many different people was very moving," he said.

The posters will be displayed and rotated at high-traffic areas on campus through April. About two dozen of the 26 book enthusiasts are also featured in a complementing video aired at the Tuesday event, held in conjunction with the university's MLK Week 2015.

This was the second time the university has orchestrated the reading campaign, which is sponsored by McConnell Library, the Office of the Provost, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and R-SPaCE.

"It was a really rewarding program," said Bethany Mott, McConnell Library's interlibrary loan coordinator.

"It shows that books can take you on new journeys or make you comfortable in your own skin."

RU READS concludes April 7 on the McConnell Library lawn featuring live music, dancing and refreshments. The 26 participants will draw for a chance to win a new iPad.

Jan 21, 2015