Radford University welcomes Dr. Brian O. Hemphill to campus
Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, who will become Radford University's seventh president in July, visited campus Jan. 21 to greet faculty, staff and students. An official welcoming ceremony was held in Bondurant Auditorium.
"I am filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement and great anticipation of being named the seventh president of Radford University and having the opportunity to stand before you today as president-elect," Dr. Hemphill said during the ceremony. "As I toured this beautiful campus and met with university officials and learned more about this wonderful opportunity, it became abundantly clear to me that this was an amazing community and would be the perfect place to call home."
Dr. Hemphill, joined by his wife Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill, began the day at a meet-and-greet with faculty, staff, alumni, the Radford University Foundation and community representatives of the Presidential Search and Transition committees.
Dr. Hemphill then sat down to a Dalton Kitchen lunch with student leaders from the Student Government Association and other student leadership organizations. The group sat at the large community table where they engaged with and heard ideas from the president-elect and his wife.
"He is a great guy and has a lot of enthusiasm," said junior Vincent Ludden, who is the Greek Life representative on the Presidential Transition Committee. "What stuck with me the most is that when he first visited Radford, he said it felt like home. And that's what I felt when I came here."
Stirling Barfield, a doctoral student, enjoyed speaking with Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill about her research and the couple's young twins. Barfield said the president-elect seemed very open and student-focused. She felt honored he took the time to meet with students during his busy visit to campus.
"It was special that he came to Dalton, to a place where we eat. We didn't have to go to him," Barfield said.
The marquee event of the day was the welcoming ceremony in Bondurant Auditorium, open to all members of the university community. After an introduction by Board of Visitors Rector Anthony R. Bedell that acknowledged the Board, City of Radford officials, the Presidential Search Committee, the Presidential Transition Committee and President Penelope W. Kyle, who received a standing ovation for her more-than-10 years of service as RU's sixth president, Dr. Hemphill took the podium to articulate the beginnings of his vision for Radford University.
"As we look to the future, I believe our success here at Radford will be sustained by a renewed focus on the academic core and student success," Dr. Hemphill said. "And I pledge to each of you sitting here today to hit the ground listening and learning. By working together, I am confident that we will succeed."
Following his remarks, Dr. Hemphill invited his family to the stage: his wife, his mother-in-law Maria and his twin three-year-old children, Catalina and Cruz. For Dr. Hemphill, the focus on family cannot be overstated.
"We will succeed together as a Radford family, a family comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends," he said.
Following the ceremony, the Board of Visitors hosted a reception for the Radford University community in honor of Dr. Hemphill and his family.
Afterward, campus was abuzz in conversations about Dr. Hemphill's first impression.
For Corey Cassidy, associate dean of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services, the president-elect brought a new vision for the university.
"His message was dynamic and he sounded as enthusiastic as we all feel about Radford University and its future," Cassidy said.
Joshua Nehemiah Bester, a sophomore media studies major, was excited by Dr. Hemphill's visit.
"I look at him and his family and, to me, they represent a complete illustration of what Radford can grow to be," he said. "He will be a bright successor to the legacy of presidents who preceded him and who have helped the university build its legacy and heritage."
Dr. Hemphill has served since July 2012 as the 10th president of West Virginia State University. His tenure has seen success in increased fundraising, improved retention rates, increased degree completion and increased transfer and out-of-state student enrollments.
Dr. Hemphill is also a published author, most recently co-editing the book "College in the Crosshairs: An Administrative Perspective on Prevention of Gun Violence," which was published in fall 2015.
Throughout his more-than-twenty years in higher education, Dr. Hemphill has served in a progression of enrollment management and student affairs positions, including terms at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb; the University of Arkansas; the University of North Carolina Wilmington; Cornell College; and Iowa State University.
With assistance from the Presidential Transition Committee, Dr. Hemphill will return periodically to Radford through July as he prepares to take over as the university's seventh president. The Committee is responsible for ensuring a smooth and effective transition between presidents and for providing an orientation and institutional scan of the university for Dr. Hemphill, among other duties.