President Hemphill hosts open forum for A/P faculty and classified staff

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill welcomed the university’s staff to the new academic year on Aug. 20 during a Presidential Open Forum in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium.

Administrative and Professional (A/P) faculty and classified staff heard from President Hemphill, who reviewed the 2017-18 academic year, previewed the 2018-19 academic year, addressed the strategic plan, campus master plan, enrollment, retention, and fundraising and took questions from the audience.

President Hemphill began the open forum by addressing the current climate of higher education.

“I am thankful for the faculty on this campus, the A/P faculty and the staff because we have been able to do some things that were able to mitigate some of the challenges facing our institution,” President Hemphill said. “We’ve already made some bold steps forward thanks to each of you. That has really allowed us to think about our own version of innovation.”

One of the innovations was the launch of the Innovative Mobile Personalized Accelerated Competency Training (IMPACT). Radford University became the first public institution to launch a competency-based education (CBE) platform on Oct. 1, 2017.

The non-traditional teaching approach decouples learning from time-based models, such as three-hour credit courses and 14-week semesters, and enables Radford University to empower working adults in Virginia with career-advancing skills while strengthening the workforce of the university’s strategic partners. Initially, IMPACT focused on cybersecurity and in early 2018 added geospatial intelligence.

Following the launch of the innovative program, IMPACT received a $13.8 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant Program. The grant began on Oct. 1, 2017 and runs through Sept. 30, 2020 and is the largest grant in the history of Radford University.

The SEED grant will expand IMPACT to include Appalachian Support for Specialized Education Training (ASSET), which includes the development, implementation and evaluation of online, self-paced, CBE training designed to increase teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in underserved rural communities in Appalachia.

ASSET will serve 5,000 K-12 educators, with the primary goal of increasing the number of highly effective educators in K-12 high-need schools in rural Appalachia, including Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia by building educators’ knowledge and skills in evidence-based practices through CBE learning models.

Another milestone in the 2017-18 academic year was Jan. 18, 2018 the announcement of the merger with Jefferson College of Health Sciences.

The merger is expected to be completed by Fall 2019. Committees comprised of Radford University, Jefferson College and Carilion Clinic officials are working closely to develop the processes and procedures that will facilitate the integration.

The transition process will address issues such as academic programs, accreditation, student services, human resources and finance.

President Hemphill discussed the proposed Center for Adaptive Learning and Creativity, a $95 million project that would develop further interdisciplinary work between the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Waldron College of Health and Human Services. The proposed building would feature collaborative lab spaces, academic spaces and classroom spaces.

President Hemphill also discussed potential changes to the employee education benefits. Currently, employees are able to take one course each fall and spring semester and/or summer session. The proposed changes to this policy would allow employees to take nine credit hours each fall and spring semester and an additional 12 credits during summer, winter or May sessions. If a credit is unused during the fall or spring semesters, it could float to intersessions.

For fiscal year 2018, President Hemphill announced that a record $15.2 million was raised by University Advancement.

Staff Senate President Karen Montgomery said that having an open forum benefits classified staff.

“Having an open forum where they can hear that they are genuinely appreciated is a great morale booster,” Montgomery said. “Knowing that they have an opportunity during this forum to voice thanks to the administration or their concerns about specific issues assures them that this administration is truly transparent.”

A/P Senate President Ashlee Claud said that the open forum benefits the entire university.

“These forums unite our focus, puts us on a clear path forward and allows an exchange of information and ideas that encourages innovation,” Claud said.

During the question and answer portion of the open forum, President Hemphill discussed expectations from state lawmakers, employee morale, relationships with local business leaders and advice for incoming students.

President Hemphill stressed that it is important to discuss the Radford Family, importance of a strong academic start, finding a niche and the significance of staying on campus.

“I want to thank each of you so much for your time, for your attention and what is an important conversation as we think about the future of our university,” President Hemphill said. “I’m proud of all the work that you are doing. I can’t say thank you enough to all of you.”

Upcoming important dates:

On Sept. 14, the university will host a “momentous occasion” in front of the College of Business and Economics (COBE) for a campus-wide announcement at 2 p.m. A reception will follow in COBE.

On Oct. 19, President Hemphill will deliver the State of the University Address at 10:30 a.m. in Bondurant Auditorium.

Aug 27, 2018
Max Esterhuizen