President Hemphill engages with Southwest Virginia alumni


President Hemphill with Radford University alumni and guests at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon on August 18.

Radford University’s seventh president Brian O. Hemphill hosted an alumni event at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon on August 18. This was the last of the Virginia based Hemphill Alumni Tour events scheduled for the fall. In September, President Hemphill will be traveling to meet alumni in North Carolina and Georgia.

“This is an event that we were very excited about,” said President Hemphill. “As we were planning these events across Virginia and put one or two on the schedule, we had one of our alumni on Twitter say we have to come to Abingdon. We responded back, ‘see you in Abingdon!,’” said President Hemphill.

During the event, President Hemphill discussed his key priorities for the university moving forward. He said the university will focus on excellence in everything it does; accountability to students, parents, faculty, staff and Virginia’s General Assembly; transparency regarding how the university engages with the campus community and region; “student-centeredness” and making sure Radford University students are a part of the conversation when faculty, staff and administration are making decisions about the university’s programs and services.

Delores Boehm, M.S. ’78 was 46 years old and a mother of seven children when she graduated Radford with a Master of Science degree in education. She said that she was impressed with President Hemphill’s emphasis on the student. “He has a lot of care and compassion for the students. I can tell he has already become an integral part of the Radford University community,” said Boehm.

In his address, President Hemphill discussed his regular visits to campus prior to his first day on the job on July 1. “I had the opportunity to come to Radford and spend time in the community and on campus to talk with students, faculty, staff and community leaders about Radford University. This gave me insight to create my six areas of emphasis as we move forward as an institution,” said President Hemphill.

President Hemphill discussed his six areas of emphasis as the university moves toward the future. His first is brand identity. “We want to tell the story of how Radford transforms people’s lives. I encourage you to tell your Radford story,” said President Hemphill.

He also mentioned the importance of defining the university’s distinctive programs – what it will be known for as the university transforms into an innovative, premier university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with a keen focus on teaching, research and service.  “There are so many areas of strength across campus. We will still work very hard and be competitive in all of our programs. The signature programs for the institution will come to life as a part of the strategic planning process. I think our future hinges on this. We are in a very crowded space and we have to define what makes us distinctive,” said President Hemphill.

Alumni were excited to hear about President Hemphill’s plans for enhancing the university’s strengths. “We do need to set ourselves apart. There is a lot of competition for students,” said Todd Stanley ’99, M.S. ’01. “I’m extremely impressed. The level of excitement that he brought with him regenerates my excitement in Radford,” said Stanley.

President Hemphill also discussed the university’s plans for strategic enrollment growth and enhancing economic and community partnerships across the region.  He also stressed to alumni in attendance that they have an important role in Radford University’s future.

“We want to connect with you – connect with the Highlander Family,” said President Hemphill. He said that the university is asking the 72,000 strong alumni family to tell their Radford success stories in their neighborhoods, throughout the Commonwealth and across the nation. He also said that alumni support of student scholarships is key to helping deserving students reach their goal of a Radford University degree. “Help us do the amazing work we are very capable of doing,” said President Hemphill.

Stanley said he is excited about Radford University’s future. “He said there would be more to come,” said Stanley. “I’m interested to see and hear more,” he said.

Aug 22, 2016
Ann Brown