RU celebrates diversity and inclusion initiatives
To celebrate Radford University's commitment to diversity, President Penelope W. Kyle and the Diversity and Equity Action Committee (DEAC) hosted a symposium about the campus' ongoing initiatives March 3 in the Performance Hall in the Covington Center.
President Kyle reflected upon the progress that has taken place since 2005 and how more diverse RU has become. The President characterized the university's aspirations, saying, "We want to continue to foster an environment of inclusion for everyone."
"Today, Radford University is more diverse than ever before in its long and storied history," she said, referencing RU's current freshman class that is 32 percent ethnic minority. "This is a significant development."
Kyle said that change in the make up of the student body underscores the university's mission.
"It is our job as an institution of higher education to prepare our students for the world. We must show them a broader world, and I am proud of our university for what we have accomplished toward this mission," she said.
Retiring Dean of the College of Education and Human Development Pat Shoemaker was recognized for her leadership in the realm of enhancing diversity and her diligence as a respected and valued member of the DEAC and Radford University community.
Shoemaker challenged the more than 100 guests to "make a good home for the people you want to be here."
"Today we will talk about points of pride, the many things that are working and the many ways that the campus is doing what is necessary to push Radford to a bright and inclusive future," said DEAC Co-chair Deneen Evans, assistant professor in the Waldron College School of Social Work. Evans co-chairs the DEAC with Crasha Townsend, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).
The program highlighted the campus' best practices on diversity and inclusion:
- Christina Brogdon, executive director of human resources, reviewed a variety of initiatives to diversify the RU faculty and staff, improve veteran recruitment, provide same sex spousal benefits and build affinity among the various faculty and staff ethnic and identity cultures.
- From Waldron College of Health and Human Services, Associate Dean Corey Cassidy introduced the college's upcoming Equity Character Campaign, called "Intersectionality," which will continue its progress toward becoming a diverse, dynamic college community.
- James Pennix, dean of admissions and enrollment management, said he was "amazed at what is happening at Radford" and reviewed trends, opportunities and activities by which his office is enhancing the campus climate with a rich and diverse student body reflective of the changing Virginia and American demographics. He also shared the positive feedback received from prospective students and their parents.
- Betty Dore, professor of education, reviewed College of Education and Human Development best practices, such as the Roots and Branches Committee and Teach for Tomorrow programs.
- Evans reviewed graduate outreach efforts that encourage a diverse pool of successful undergraduates to consider Radford for graduate study, including a pilot program to partner Radford with historically black colleges and universities.
- To "internationalize" the campus, Paul Currant, director of the International Education Center, discussed Radford's potential for expanding its current international community of students and faculty who represent 30 different home countries.
- Perkins recounted the CDI program of over 80 events and activities to expand the dialogue and communal effort that has propelled "Radford's upward trajectory to diversity, inclusiveness and social justice."
- Angela DeVore, director of the Disability Resource Office (DRO), highlighted the DRO activities by which it works toward "genuine and unconditional acceptance" for the nearly 600 students whom it serves.
The third annual event was opened by a performance of "I Will Always Love You" by Amber Hairston, a freshman sports medicine major from Roanoke. Lawrence Davin, a freshman political science major from Washington, D.C. and Adaisha Cole, a freshman music therapy major from Laurel, Maryland, performed at a reception that was hosted by President Kyle and the DEAC.