Radford University celebrates diversity and inclusion on campus
The Radford University community celebrated the many faces and perspectives of campus at the 4th Diversity Program and Reception on April 6.
The annual event brought students, faculty and staff together to acknowledge the many achievements the university has made in increasing diversity and representation on campus, but also in reflecting on the work yet to be done.
“In preparing our students, we must show them a broader world, or at least a window to that world,” said President Penelope W. Kyle. “Our efforts must be progressive and ever-moving.”
During her remarks, Kyle discussed her tenure as Radford University’s first woman president. She also made special mention of her predecessor, Dr. H. Douglas Covington, the university’s first African-American president, who began many efforts to increase diversity on campus.
“I am proud of Radford University for what we have accomplished, but there is much more to be done,” President Kyle said. “We must never quit. We need to continue pushing this ideal.”
Many members of the faculty and administration shared their thoughts on Radford’s efforts, highlighting things like history, development of an inclusive faculty and points of pride in enrollment, retention and service.
Dean of Students Irvin Clark opened the reception by lauding how far Radford University has come in its history, but encouraging all to embrace the ambition of advocacy.
“That ambition requires a commitment from each of us to strive to constantly educate ourselves, taking time to understand cultures different from our own,” Clark said. “May we succeed in our quest for celebrating our differences while pursuing our vision of a diverse and inclusive campus.”
Students were also at the forefront of the program, as they shared their perspectives with the assembly.
For biology student Miracle Davis, it has at times been challenging to be a young woman of color in a traditionally male-dominated field. She was able to find her place however when faculty members encouraged her to pursue student research.
“I needed something that was going to help me stay in my major,” Davis said. “I found that in research and in pursuing other opportunities.”
Davis was approached to participate in the diversity program by College of Science and Technology Dean Orion Rogers on the strength of her academic work and her dedication to her field.
“This means a lot, to share my story and tell people that things are getting better,” Davis said. “I feel like I came from nothing and have now succeeded at Radford.”
Joshua Nehemiah Bester, president of the Diversity Awareness Programming Board, and Colby Bender, president of SGA also offered testimonials. The event also included vocal performances from sophomores Amber Hairston, Myra Brooks and Kristina Ryder, and a step performance by Phi Beta Sigma brothers Mike Facey and Michael Silas.
Over the past decade, Radford University has become a more diverse campus on which to live and work. Among the university’s many achievements noted at the reception:
- An increase in student minority enrollment from 12 to 32 percent since 2005
- More than 40 nations are currently represented by the student body and faculty
- The university recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with an annual Day of Service
- National recognition for graduation rates Radford University’s of African-American students
- Implementation of campus policies that support free expression
- A 2014 Radford University discrimination policy update added protections for transgender students, faculty and staff
The Diversity Program and Reception is sponsored by the Diversity and Equity Action Committee.