Homecoming festivities a hit; alumni say Radford University is a fit for future Highlanders


Sophie Monica stopped at the campus fountain Saturday to pose for pictures with family members.

The freshman from Manassas was in the middle giving a tour of the Radford University campus to her parents and grandparents on the sunny and warm morning.

“I wanted to show them where I’m staying, what’s going on and what I do on a daily basis,” Monica said. “I think that’s important for my family to know since I’m living so far away.”

Monica’s grandparents traveled a long way to see their granddaughter’s new college home.

“We’ve been looking forward to seeing where Sophie is, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful place,” said Monica’s grandmother Marilyn McWhorter, who lives in Missouri. “It’s so impressive. I’ve never seen a campus like this and we’ve been on a lot of campuses. Sophie fell in love with Radford right away, and you can see why. Who would not want to go here?”

Many from the university community shared those same sentiments as they gathered for Homecoming and Family Weekend Oct. 14-16.

There were numerous events available to engage former and current students and their families with the Radford University community. This year, visitors experienced the vast changes around campus and explored the new facilities and offerings while sharing in memories of the past.

Alumna Laura Geisen ’86 walked around campus with her daughter, Bridget, a freshman, and marveled at how the campus has expanded. “It’s grown, but Radford is still Radford,” Laura Geisen said. “When Bridget first came for a visit, she loved it. She said the vibe here is so nice.”

Earlier in morning, members of Radford’s class of 1966 met for breakfast in Peter’s Hall. Good friends Nancy Dyer Manning and Sandy Lindner Curtis, who came all the way from her home in Washington state, shared memories of their time at Radford, including the time they became “blood sisters” in biology class.

“We’ve always been good friends,” Manning said. “We went to high school together and we came to Radford together. It’s nice to see each other and so many good friends.”

Pals Ed Zimmerman ’85 and Mike Mathes ’86 sat outside on the patio of the new College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences building. The two had a full day of plans that included seeing “old” friends – “very old,” Mathes joked – and going to the lacrosse alumni game that afternoon. Both were impressed with the direction Radford University is taking toward its future.

“Radford has come a long way and it looks like it’s going to continue to grow and become a great institution,” said Zimmerman, who serves on the College of Business and Economics Advisory Council. “It always has been. It’s just getting better.”



Saturday’s festivities began early in the morning when President Brian O. Hemphill hosted parents and families for Conversation with the President. Hemphill provided updates about the university, which was followed by a question-and-answer session.

The president then dashed off to compete in the 5K Fun Run by the New River at Bisset Park.  

Other activities over the three days included a ribbon-cutting for the new Center for the Sciences, the 31st Annual Appalachian Folk Arts Festival on the Heth Lawn, Women of Radford luncheon, the National Pan-Hellenic Council StompFest Step Show and Planetarium shows. There were lectures and various open houses and building tours, too.

Sarah Sosa, a senior anthropology major from Norfolk, took her mother, Heidi Wilson, around the new Center for the Sciences building. “I wanted her to see the new CSAT (College of Science and Technology) building. I wanted her to see where we spend most of our time,” Sosa said.

“Hours and hours and hours,” joked Sosa’s friend and fellow anthropology major, Dakota Townsend, of Richmond.

“Yeah, we live here,” Sosa said. “And, I wanted my mom to see the labs and see what I do and get a better understanding of what I do.”

Wilson was impressed.

“Sarah is passionate about anthropology,” said Wilson, standing outside the newly opened Museum of the Earth Sciences. “I’ve seen her grow in the past two and half years, and the depth of knowledge these students are learning and the experiences they are having, really has impressed me. I’m really blown away by this program.”

Later in the day on Saturday, alumni, students and friends gathered at Moffett Lawn. On one end of the large field was a spirited lacrosse game being played by alumni and the Radford club team. Fraternity and sorority members put on a spectacular halftime show as they raced homemade chariots across the playing field.

On the other end of the lawn were groups of red and white tents where music blared and people gathered for conversations, to play corn hole and learn more about the happenings at Radford University.

As Duran Duran blasted over the speakers, Allison Marentette ’84, of Herdon, and Angela Underhill ’86, of Virginia Beach, walked by the tents on their way to “watch the guys” play lacrosse, Marentette said. “It’s such a beautiful day to be back here,” Marentette added.

The two look forward to coming back to campus for Homecoming every year because “It’s always great to be back home,” Underhill said. “Radford always feels like home to me.”

Oct 17, 2016
Chad Osborne