President Hemphill hosts open forums for A/P and Classified Staff


Radford University's seventh president, Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, engaged employees in candid conversation on July 22 during two Presidential Open Forums in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium.

The forums were Hemphill's first opportunity since he assumed the presidency July 1 to meet and get to know the university's faculty and staff in a larger venue.

Administrative and professional (A/P) faculty joined President Hemphill at the first of the two forums during which President Hemphill addressed challenges within the higher education environment, such as rising tuition, increased competition and legislative cuts to funding, or disinvestment.

"We must face all of these challenges by focusing on innovation and thinking outside the box," he said. "Innovation has to become the new normal of our conversation moving forward."

Hemphill shared his vision for the university and the fundamental principles and areas of focus he will use as his platform. The entire campus community must get involved on some level, he said.

"My vision for this institution is for us to look at how we can begin to work together to transform Radford University into an innovative, premier university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with a keen focus on teaching, research and service," he said.

Following his remarks, President Hemphill encouraged questions from the audience. Among the topics addressed were branding and marketing, enrollment, retention efforts, student involvement, facilities and the continued importance of communicating and engaging with students, parents and alumni.


President Hemphill's message resonated with many in attendance.

"President Hemphill spoke eloquently on the major themes at Radford University and the higher education environment, and he did not hesitate to cite very specific numbers and statistics," said Eric Lovik, director of Institutional Research. "I was excited to see how Dr. Hemphill used data to inform conversations about institutional priorities and opportunities."

Others were excited to learn more about President Hemphill's background and his direction for the university.

"He was energetic, fun and clearly showed his experience and depth of knowledge surrounding higher education, both nationally and here at Radford," said Barry Miller, director of Student Recreation and Wellness. "His collaborative and shared leadership approaches are welcomed and we look forward to working with him."

Vice President of the A/P Faculty Senate and Assistant Director of Student Activities John Leonard appreciated Hemphill's commitment to student-centeredness.

"I think he has already realized one of the things that makes Radford special - its focus on one-on-one student contact," Leonard said. "I think we are starting a bright new era and President Hemphill’s leadership is going to take us to some exciting new places."

At the day’s second forum with classified staff, the president also shared thoughts on the ways forward after briefing them on the challenges and opportunities facing Radford.

"I am very honored to stand here as seventh president of Radford University," Hemphill said. "I will tell you that it is an exciting time to be here and be leading this university. I will also tell you that we are facing one of the more challenging times in the history of higher education."

To the classified staff members who filled the Bonnie auditorium to capacity, Hemphill outlined six tenets by which he hopes to guide the university. He briefed them on how brand identity, academic excellence and research, student success, strategic enrollment growth, economic development and community outreach and philanthropy and alumni engagement can set Radford on a sustainable path.

"I am very optimistic. The reason I feel good about the future is that I can look into your eyes and see your care, your love and your concern for this institution," Hemphill said. "It will take each of us locking arms, knocking down silos and coming together as one Radford family."

Staff Senate President Marie Testerman called the forum a welcome opportunity to validate the staff’s contribution to the university and its mission of service to the students and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"We appreciated the chance to share our concerns and offer our own perspectives," she said. "The enthusiasm and turn out today were great. The highlight was Dr. Hemphill’s openness to talking about such a wide range of topics."

Aug 3, 2016
Mary Hardbarger and Don Bowman
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