President Hemphill discusses his vision for Radford University with Roanoke area alumni

President Hemphill with his wife Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill and Forrest Surber (far left) and Samantha Giles ’11 (far right).

Close to 200 alumni gathered at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke on August 11, 2016 to meet Radford University’s seventh president Brian O. Hemphill and hear his vision for their alma mater’s future. President Hemphill has been touring the Commonwealth to engage with as many alumni as possible and share his key initiatives 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.

“It was inspiring! He has good energy and his words are promising and uplifting. It is wonderful to hear someone speak so positively about the future. I’m excited to see what happens,” said Karen Maslich-Russell ’87.

President Hemphill emphasized that the 72,000 strong alumni Highlander Family is a key to the university’s future excellence. He said alumni should share their stories of their Radford University experiences to prospective students and their parents. Lorena Wilson ’13 enrolled at Radford University while in her 40s. “I had four children when I started back at school. I was an example for my children. They said, ‘if Momma can do it, we can do it too,” said Wilson. She is dedicated to telling her success story to high school students in her community. She even helps young men and women find out more about available scholarships.

Alumni learned about President Hemphill’s plans, including to strategically grow enrollment, to emphasize academic excellence and research, and to build economic development and community partnerships. “We have a role in looking at challenges facing Southwest Virginia and how we will work together to face those challenges.” He also emphasized the need to enhance student success and keeping students at the forefront of everything the university does.

President Hemphill with Marylen Harmon, M.S. ’74.

Accounting graduate Duryea Leftwich ’12 was glad to hear about President Hemphill’s student-centered approach to making decisions and enhancing programs. “The final product is the student,” said Leftwich, now an accountant for accounting firm Cherry Bekaert. “When I was at Radford, I felt like I was a part of something,” he said.

President Hemphill asked alumni to contribute their “time, talent and treasure” to the university. He said that alumni can make a difference in the lives of students by providing financial support for scholarships. “We have to take a look at how we are opening the door and paying it forward. We need to open the door with more scholarships,” said President Hemphill.

He also stressed to alumni that offering internship and externship opportunities in their businesses and organizations provide unique learning experiences. “One of the things we hear loud and clear is that graduates who have opportunities for internships and externships are truly prepared to hit the ground running upon graduation,” said President Hemphill. He asked alumni to continue to open doors for Radford University students to have those experiential learning opportunities.

“I thought it was good that he mentioned the importance of internships,” said Kenneth Phillips ’12, a media studies graduate. “Sometimes you don’t know what you need to know until you see it first-hand. Internships are key to address the learning curve when you go into the work environment,” said Phillips.

Holly Moye Corcoran ’02, a therapeutic recreation graduate, said that her internship experience set her up for success. “An internship was required for my degree. I had to have a semester-long internship and it really made me appreciate my diploma even more. I was also hired upon completion of my internship at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach,” said Corcoran.

After the presentation, Maslich-Russell said she was more encouraged to become involved with her alma mater. “The take-away from tonight is that I need to do more. I can do more,” she said.

“Tonight was very enlightening and very promising,” said Corcoran. “The Radford University I grew to love and am very proud of is in good hands.”


President Hemphill with (from left) Walter and Nancy ’66 Manning and Tommy Slusser ’79.

Aug 15, 2016
Ann Brown