New academic year opens with annual Fall Convocation
Radford University commemorated the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year on Aug. 23 by welcoming faculty and staff, celebrating successes of the previous year and looking ahead to a bright future.
“During the last two years, we have embarked on a journey that has been defined by accountability, transparency and student-centeredness,” President Brian O. Hemphill said to the gathering at the annual Fall Convocation in Bondurant Auditorium. “I can tell you this year will be no exception.”
President Hemphill spoke of the many successes enjoyed by the Radford family during the 2017-18 academic year, including the development and adoption of a new strategic plan, the planned merger with the Jefferson College of Health Sciences and the launch of the IMPACT program and celebration of its first graduate.
President Hemphill applauded the work to improve the university’s facilities and highlighted the reopening of Whitt and Russell Halls after renovations. He spoke of continued improvements to Reed and Curie Halls.
President Hemphill reminded the gathering of successful seasons for the university’s student athletes, which included “numerous championships and a thrilling NCAA Tournament experience and win,” by the men’s basketball team.
“It was a busy year; it was a great year,” the president said.
In the coming academic year, President Hemphill pledged to continue to provide shared governance and keep open doors of communication and dialogue. He announced open forums for students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks.
On Sept. 14, the president said “the Radford family will join together for what we are calling a momentous occasion. This is an event you will not want to miss.” The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. in front of Kyle Hall, home of the university’s College of Business and Economics.
"As we think about our future, we are going to continue to work together to transform Radford into an innovative premier university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with a keen focus on teaching, research and service,” the president said, closing his remarks.
The annual Radford University Foundation Faculty Awards were presented during the convocation. The most prestigious being the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Award. This year’s winner is Psychology Professor Ann Neish Elliott.
The award is named in honor of Radford University’s fourth president. Nominees must have an outstanding record of teaching at Radford University, be professionally active in their discipline and be recognized by colleagues and students as thoroughly knowledgeable in the subject matter and current scholarship of their teaching discipline.
Additional faculty award winners are:
- Anna Lee Stewart Award for Contributions to Faculty Development – Erin Webster Garrett, former English professor and Scholar-Citizen Initiative director. The award recognizes faculty and staff who have contributed substantially to the professional development of their colleagues and contribute in exceptional ways to the university’s teaching and learning environment.
- The Award for Administrative and Professional Excellence – Jeanne Mekolichick, Associate Provost for Academic Programs. The award recognizes those who have a record of distinguished leadership and/or superior service in his or her area of professional activity within the university.
- The Distinguished Faculty Advising Award – Liz Altieri, professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. The award recognizes teaching faculty who demonstrates excellence in the important responsibility of academic advising.
- The Distinguished Service Award – Kim Gainer, associate dean in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. The award was established to recognize faculty who have contributed substantial service to the university over a sustained period of time.
- The Distinguished Creative Scholar Award – Jolanta Wawrzycka, English professor. The award recognizes significant original contributions to the body of knowledge in academe and rewards contributions that have had a significant impact on effective classroom teaching.
Six new faculty members were inducted into Radford’s Million Dollar Circle, a program that recognizes members of the Radford faculty who receive a cumulative total of $1 million or more in external grants or contracts.
New inductees are:
- Diane Hodge, director of the School of Social Work;
- Liz Altieri, professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership;
- Matt Dunleavy, executive director of the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab;
- Brooke Blanks, associate professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership;
- Amanda Bozack, director of the School of Teacher Education and Leadership; and
- Kenna Colley, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Colley was celebrated for securing a record amount of more than $20 million in external grants for the university. “Dr. Colley’s distinguished career as a grant writer has supported and advanced many programs at Radford University,” said Laura Jacobsen, interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research.
In closing, Colley shared “exciting news” about the upcoming academic year.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) has acknowledged the Honors Academy name change to Honors College.
New to the university this year is the Citizen Leader Program. It will offer Citizen Leader distinguished courses, co-curricular activities and beyond-the-classroom-based student projects. The vision is to prepare and empower students to succeed as civically active and engaged leaders in their workplace and their communities.
The Harvey Knowledge Center (HKC), formerly the Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC), will utilize a learner-centered approach and offer free academic consulting for courses and seminars to support students’ skills and confidence in navigating the opportunities and challenges of their coursework.
The Clinical Simulation Center in Cook Hall will provide a hands-on learning experience in an environment that is safe and realistic, producing quality nurses with enhanced critical thinking abilities, communication skills and collaboration experience.
During the upcoming year, five Dalton Eminent Scholar Awards will be given. Each $10,000 award will fund research travel and materials, along with a $5,000 award to be granted to the faculty member following successful completion of research and scholarly activity.
A faculty search committee is working to fill the new Executive Director of Faculty Development position. The new position will bring broader support to faculty roles, including the career arc, academic leadership and programs of research and scholarship.
Following convocation, President Hemphill hosted a reception for faculty and staff in Russell Hall.