President Hemphill hosts two open forums for faculty discussion
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill welcomed the university’s faculty for conversations during two Presidential Open Forums sessions in the Hulburt Student Center auditorium on Sept. 5 and 6.
At the forums, the president covered a variety of topics while looking back at the 2016-17 academic year and examining the prospects for the year ahead. “There’s a great deal of positive energy on campus,” President Hemphill said. “We look forward to what this year has in store.”
At both forums, the president gave a review of prior conversations with faculty and provided strategic planning updates.
Over the course of the last academic year, the president said, the administration has been working directly with faculty and has made strides in responding to discussions and requests.
The response rate to Faculty Senate motions and other requests has increased, President Hemphill said.
“One thing we are very intentional about is trying to be more responsive to Faculty Senate motions that are coming forward,” he said.
The president talked about this year’s launching of a fall break, which will begin Oct. 13. “That was actually the very first motion that came from the Faculty Senate,” he said. “We’re very excited about it, and I know our students are very excited about it.”
Streamlining administrative processes within the institution has been a point of interest among faculty, President Hemphill noted, “and we’re in the process of putting together a small group that will begin working and getting answers to how we can address all of the concerns.”
Additionally, the Research Productivity Work Group has been formed to reduce barriers to research activities and related productivity, he noted.
Review of 2016-17 Academic Year
Looking back on highlights and milestones from the 2016-17 academic year, President Hemphill praised the work done at the Budget Planning Summit on Sept. 9, 2016. “It marked a significant opportunity for engagement and planning within the community,” he said. On that day, 120 students, faculty and staff worked together to engage in conversations concerning Virginia’s economic forecast, the university’s budget and new opportunities for innovation, programmatic strategies, efficiencies, revenue generation and economic development.
A number of recommendations came forth that day, the president said, and those “really fed the institution in a lot of different ways. It provided keen insight into the strategic planning process for the university.”
President Hemphill spoke about last year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend, and reminded participants of this year’s event, Oct. 6-8. New this year, the president will deliver a state of the university address during Homecoming at 11 a.m., Oct. 6, in the Bondurant Auditorium.
President Hemphill reflected on last April’s Highlander Pride Week for student athletes. In addition, he praised the campus community for the way it came together for the United as One Radford Family event, days after the Presidential election. “We had great discussion around civility, around unity, around respecting opinions on the right and the left,” he said.
Preview 2017-18 Academic Year
Many “exciting things” are forthcoming for the university in the current academic year, President Hemphill said, including the recent launch of an accelerated academic program (IMPACT) and new delivery platform with an initial focus on cyber security and a future focus on geospatial intelligence and counseling with a concentration in addiction.
President Hemphill spoke about the growing partnerships Radford University is developing with other higher education institutions, including the recently signed guaranteed transfer partnership agreement with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The agreement ensures all credits earned by NOVA students will transfer to Radford University, saving the students time and money.
“When we talk about being student centered, it means going outside the box and looking at the types of things we can do to improve the situation for our students,” President Hemphill said.
Strategic Planning Update
Transitioning to the university’s strategic plan, the president explained that the plan will be submitted for approval to the Board of Visitors in December and implementation is proposed for January 2018.
The new vision for the university, President Hemphill said, is to be the premier, innovative, student-centered university in Virginia and beyond with a focus on teaching, research and service.
Also at each forum, Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lowery provided faculty with an update and answered questions regarding the upcoming capital campaign.
“As our faculty, you are the ones interacting with our students on a daily basis, and your ideas you share with us from this point are extremely important,” she said. “All transformative thinking has to be driven by our academic partners across the academy.”
Questions and Comments
Faculty questions and comments for Lowery centered on providing resources for academic and research programs and facilities, including the Selu Conservancy and the university’s new writing center, as well as travel budgets for faculty to present at conferences.
Concluding each forum, President Hemphill heard questions regarding parent fundraising initiatives, fundraising training for faculty, raising the university’s academic reputation, retention increases, cross-fiscal year budgets, and efforts to publicize faculty and student research.
“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. We want to make sure you are being as intentional as you always have , that you let our students know you want them to be here and that you’re going to challenge them,” President Hemphill said to close the Sept. 6 forum. “We are creating a culture of success and expectations for our students, which is 100 percent what we are all about.”
Following the Sept. 5 forum, Music Associate Professor Tim Channel said he appreciates President Hemphill valuing the campus community’s ideas.
“As a faculty member, having an opportunity to have our voices heard and to give input on important campus initiatives is vital to a healthy institution,” Channel said. “I believe Dr. Hemphill’s forums help maintain the positive trajectory of Radford University.”