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Radford University rolled out the red carpet of welcome to Radford alumni Oct. 6-8 for its annual Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

The campus community also welcomed Radford student families for Family Weekend.

To launch the festive weekend, President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., delivered the university’s first-ever State of the University Address on Friday, Oct. 6 at which he declared, “Without question, the State of the University is strong, and our recent progress and resounding success would not be possible without the unwavering support and continued dedication of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

Friday, Oct. 6 also featured the 2017 Alumni Volunteer Leadership Business Lunch and Awards Ceremony in Kyle Hall. ESPN journalist and television host Marty Smith ’98 was one of four honorees at the event — which hosted over 100 alumni, family and friends of Radford University and celebrated those alumni who have made an impact in their professions, community and alma mater.

Smith received the Outstanding Alumnus Award, which recognizes a graduate who has made remarkable contributions to society through his or her profession. Unable to attend the ceremony due to an assignment in College Station, Texas, Smith sent his regards via Executive Director of Alumni Relations Laura Turk ’87, M.S. ’90. “It pains me to miss this event,” he wrote. “Nowhere on Earth can you find a sweeter October breeze than the New River Valley.”

Also acknowledged during the ceremony were David Smith ’85, M.S. ’87 and his wife, Pebbles ’85, who were honored with the Outstanding Service Award, which recognizes graduates who have made exceptional contributions to furthering the mission of Radford University through continued support of their community and the University. Sean Gallahan ’08 received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which is given to an alumnus 35-or-under who has made significant career achievements and has been actively involved in Radford University programs or civic and volunteer activities.

“I hope to see every generation of Radford University students make their stamp on the value system at Radford University,” said Jennie Teass Allman ’67, recipient of the Outstanding Philanthropist Award, which recognizes exceptional generosity and civic responsibility demonstrated by significant financial contributions to charitable organizations. “Because the values of Radford University reinforce the love of mankind.”

Saturday, Oct. 7, close to 150 Radford University alumni and friends celebrated strong and determined women during the Women of Radford Luncheon in Kyle Hall. Keynote speaker Tracy Lewis-Williams, a faculty member in Radford University’s Department of Information Technology and the first African American woman to earn her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in computer science, discussed how the audience should embrace their inner wonder women.

Lewis-Williams also honored alumna and event attendee Nancy Artis ’73 for her generosity and dedication to her alma mater and the Artis College of Science and Technology. She said when Artis visits her classes, she brings solid advice from corporate America and a glimpse into the “real world.” Last spring, Nancy and Pat Artis gifted the university the largest contribution by an individual and an alumnus in Radford’s history. The Artis College of Science and Technology was dedicated, and the Artis Endowed Scholarship Fund will award 67 high-achieving students scholarships in the amount of $3,000 based on academic eligibility.

Another of the many wonder women in the room, Margorie A. Young ’85, DNP ’15 spent 30 years working in women’s health before becoming a faculty member in Radford University’s School of Nursing. She served as the Director of Women’s Health Services and the Director of the Birthing Center at LewisGale Montgomery Hospital in Blacksburg. She said she loves to be inspired by Radford women. “I love to hear women’s stories of where they’ve been, what they’ve done and what they want to do. It’s inspiring!” said Young.

Saturday, Oct. 7 on Moffett Lawn, the Alumni Village, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, featured reunion gatherings at which students and alumni gathered to enjoy a lacrosse match, music and the annual Greek Life chariot races. On Heth Lawn, campus visitors browsed craft and food stands while listening to live bluegrass music.

In Preston Auditorium, guests took in the Fall Dance Fest’ 17 and in Pridemore Playhouse, they enjoyed “Crimes of the Heart, a gothic comedy. The annual Family Weekend Dog show displayed the Highlander family’s canine contingent on the Bonnie Plaza with 20 pet-person teams and more looking on.

“I love Radford in the fall.  It is always so beautiful,” said Sherry Fisher ’85, a regular Homecoming visitor. “Seeing people I haven’t seen for a while is a pleasure.”

Will Iandola ’82 agreed with Fisher on the campus beauty, and added, “The campus is still so inviting. For me, it is a place where I found my professional skill set. Those opportunities at a young age are so important and it is nice to see that they are still happening here.”

Michelle and Radford freshman Zoe Catori, mother and daughter, were taking it all in.  After some shopping and meals together, Michelle sized up her daughter’s first weeks of the Radford experience, “She is happy and I am so glad to see her.”

Scott Dawson ’91 remains close to the Radford family. He said he makes the Homecoming trip whenever he can and that was on Moffett Lawn for his niece’s graduation last spring. His weekend visit to Radford also gave him a chance look in on another niece whom he helped move in August as a freshman.

“Today, it’s about seeing the other guys from the fraternity (Phi Kappa Sigma), eating at Macado’s, sharing some stories and having a good time,” he said.

Dawson and his brothers had reason to be proud. The fraternity paced the Greek Life Challenge in which the fraternity and sorority community raised more than $11,000 in four weeks.

The active brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma rallied 63 donors to raise more than $4,000. Taylor Bell, chapter president, said, “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure our chapter continues to be seen in a positive light. This was an opportunity for us to leave our footprint at Radford University.”

Dante Washington, a Radford Athletics Hall of Famer and former All-American soccer player at Radford, reflected on the Radford culture as he talked about his former coach Don Staley, who joined him in the Hall of Fame with his induction on Friday, Oct. 6.

“He deeply cared about us as people, students and athletes.  It was moving to see so many men and women show their love for someone who was so instrumental in our lives,” Washington said.

Saturday, Oct. 7 saw Radford College alumnae marking a milestone, as President Hemphill welcomed alumnae from the Class of 1967 to the Governor Tyler House to celebrate their Golden Reunion. “We are very happy and honored to have members of the Class of 1967 here tonight,” said President Hemphill. “All of our work is built upon the work of our alumni. The work of you.”

The dinner, which was hosted by President Hemphill and his wife, Radford University First Lady Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill, featured more than 50 guests, including alumnae who have previously celebrated the 50-year milestone, as well as alumnae who have not been back to campus since their graduation.

One of the alumnae who had not been back to campus since her graduation included Julia Short Greer ’67, M.S. ’70, who received quite a surprise while she was on the shuttle bus on the way to the event.

“When the Alumni Relations staff was handing us our name tags, I heard a voice from behind me exclaim ‘Julia!’” Greer explained. “When I turned around, I saw a friend who was in the band with me 50 years ago!”

Following dinner, President Hemphill joined Laura Turk ’87, MS ’90, in officially inducting the Class of 1967. Each alumna was awarded a Golden Reunion medallion in honor of her 50th reunion.

As the evening – and the weekend – drew to a close, the alumnae gathered for a group photo. Many of the women spontaneously began to sing the University’s Alma Mater. That song immediately merged into an era-specific song with more “colorful” lyrics. Unsurprisingly, the second song drew more participants.

Oct 9, 2017
Jeremy Norman