Radford University hosts campus forum for economic development and community partnerships
Members of the Radford University campus community gathered in the Center for the Sciences planetarium on Jan. 24 to suggest strategic ideas to help strengthen the university's role in local and regional economic development and its partnerships within the community.
The campus forum was hosted by the university's Economic Development and Community Partnership sub-group, which is one of nine committees of the university’s Strategic Planning Task Force.
Development of a five-year comprehensive strategic plan is currently underway. The plan will shape the university’s mission and vision for the 2018-2023 timeframe. One of its defining concepts is to engage the university and surrounding communities in providing input to several components of the university’s new strategic plan.
A similar public forum was hosted by the sub-group on Jan. 19 at the City of Radford Recreation Center, where city and university representatives introduced several ideas to enhance the university's economic impact and community partnerships.
Among those in attendance at the campus forum were co-chairs of the Economic Development and Community Partnerships sub-group, Laura Jacobsen, associate dean of the Radford University College of Graduate Studies and Research, and George Low, dean of the university's College of Business and Economics. Radford University alumnus Jeff Price '86, a member of the university's sub-group, also participated, in addition to several university faculty, staff and students. David Horton, president of the City of Radford Chamber of Commerce and assistant to the dean of the College of Science and Technology, who also serves on the sub-group, served as forum moderator.
"We shouldn't be just an isolated organization that worries about our own mission and our own success," said Low. "We are part of the City of Radford and the regional economy. President Hemphill has made it clear in his priorities that we really do need to think about how we can be more active and involved in making sure that Radford and surrounding areas are vibrant and successful in terms of their economies and other elements to community partnerships."
Many ideas generated at the campus forum focused on interdisciplinary partnerships, or ways in which faculty, staff and students from across multiple disciplines could collaborate to provide services for the greater community.
Institutional efforts to better prepare students for the workforce and retain them to work and live in the area were also suggested, including exploring the expansion of online courses and introducing new graduate degree and continuing education programs.
Many participants suggested ways to boost tourism, such as enhanced promotion of the New River and nearby Claytor Lake. Sports tournaments and other recreational opportunities could also draw more visitors to the area. Lodging of city and campus visitors was also discussed.
"This feedback was very helpful for our sub-group as we move forward," Jacobson said. "Although not all of the ideas generated will be included in the strategic plan, we will make sure to consider your work and will continue to generate and introduce new initiatives."
The university’s strategic planning task force, created by President Brian O. Hemphill, includes sub-groups that are focused on academic excellence and research; brand identity; budget; challenges and opportunities; economic development and community partnerships; mission, vision and core values; philanthropic giving and alumni engagement; strategic enrollment growth; and student success. Many of the university’s strategic planning sub-groups include community members and business leaders in addition to university faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Further input to the Economic Development and Community Partnerships sub-group can be submitted through an online survey at: www.radford.edu/economic-development.