Continued progress, momentum cited in second State of the University address

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill delivers his second State of the University address.
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill delivers his second State of the University address.

‘As I stand before you today, two years later, I can say the State of the University is strong.’


Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. reflected on an exciting and successful 2017-18 academic year, while keeping a keen eye on the university’s future.

During the Oct. 19 State of the University address to Radford University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders, Hemphill discussed the milestones, innovations, planning and strategic efforts of the university and the community.

From Preston Hall’s Bondurant Auditorium, Hemphill highlighted significant progress and outlined the university’s momentum with nearly 1,000 members of the campus, local and business communities attending the inspiring event.

Hemphill thanked and acknowledged the shared governance leaders and leadership council members in attendance, as well as the university’s Board of Visitors.

“I am honored and humbled by their unwavering commitment to teamwork, shared governance and their direct engagement in all facets of our campus and our community,” Hemphill said.

Special guests Sandy and Jack Davis were also acknowledged by the President. In early October, they made the largest individual contribution in the history of Radford University. In honor of their generous contribution, Radford University’s Sandra C. Davis and William C. Davis College of Business and Economics was dedicated and the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts is now home to the Sandra C. Davis and William C. Davis Performance Hall. The Sandra C. Davis and William C. Davis Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide academic scholarship awards to Davis Scholars of $4,000 per year or $2,000 per semester. The awards will be exclusively provided to incoming freshman and transfer students studying in the Davis College and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Philanthropic giving to Radford University has dramatically increased in recent years, with $8 million in 2016, $10.7 million in 2017 and a new record of $15.2 million in 2018. Of that $15.2 million, $11.1 million was dedicated to student scholarships.

Left to right: Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill, Sandra C. Davis and William C. Davis

Left to right: Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill, Sandra C. Davis and William C. Davis.

Increased student success opportunities

“Without question, this is an important time in our storied history and one in which Highlander students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends have a unique opportunity to reflect upon our recent and resounding successes, while preparing for our bold and promising future – a future that will be marked by lasting change and powerful results,” Hemphill said.

The adoption of the five-year strategic plan titled, “Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future,” has guided the university’s academic and student success objectives. Some of the early results of that work include:

  • An expanded partnership with New River Community College;
  • A new partnership with Emory & Henry College;
  • The Harvey Knowledge Center located in McConnell Library;
  • The CORE Writing Center; and
  • The Enrollment Data Council.

Additional investments highlighted by Hemphill were:

  • The Clinical Simulation Center in Cook Hall, through an investment of nearly $1 million, features state-of-the-art hospital rooms, exam rooms, interview rooms and debriefing spaces;
  • The Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE) program, a student research program, received a $25,000 investment this summer and will receive a $100,000 investment over the next four years; and
  • An investment by Radford University of $7.5 million in direct scholarships for students, an increase of 81 percent over the historical average.

The Artis College of Science and Technology was notified that its Department of Chemistry was recently added to the American Chemical Society’s list of approved institutions, an honor the department has worked diligently to attain for a number of years. In order to receive approval, programs must meet rigorous established standards, including the quality of the curriculum, facilities, faculty research and teaching load.

The Counseling Psychology doctoral program, which focuses on rural mental health, in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences was named the best in the country for the 2017-18 academic year by an online publication. Radford University has one of the highest licensure percentages with 100 percent of graduates receiving their license after completing the program.

Design Intelligence has ranked Radford University’s Interior Design program as the nation’s 13th most admired undergraduate program. The honor and speaks to the quality of the program and its reputation in the industry and across the nation.

Radford’s School of Nursing programs on the main campus and in Roanoke have been rated No. 2 and No. 8 out of 48 nursing programs that were analyzed and 20 programs that were ranked. The excellence of these programs was highlighted by, an online education and advocacy site run by registered nurses to promote excellence in nursing.

As part of constructing new student success opportunities, Radford’s campus has continued to evolve:

  • Russell Hall was reopened as a true gathering place in the heart of campus and is home to a variety of offices that serve students through their Highlander journey;
  • Whitt Hall was reopened. It is the home to High Impact Practices, Sustainability, Undergraduate Research, Scholar-Citizen Initiative, New Student Programs, Undergraduate Advising and Faculty Senate;
  • The three-year renovation period is in full swing and will provide a complete state-of-the-art home for the Artis College of Science and Technology. The renovation of Reed and Curie Halls, coupled with the recent completion of the Center for the Sciences, will enable Radford University to garner regional, national and international recognition for outstanding academic programs; and
  • Planning and funding requests are underway for the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity.
Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lowery, right, leads Nancy Artis '73, second to right, Pat Artis, left, and President Brian O. Hemphill, center, through the renovations to the Artis College of Science and Technology.

Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lowery, right, leads Nancy Artis '73, second to right, Pat Artis, left, and President Brian O. Hemphill, center, through the renovations to Reed and Curie Halls.

Merging successes

Back in January, Radford University announced its intent to merge Jefferson College of Health Sciences into the Radford family of college and departments. Since that time, the Steering Committee, along with the various subcommittees, have embraced innovation in securing a future for our region and the Commonwealth.

The merger is scheduled to be completed by fall 2019.

Radford Gives Back

The Radford University family once again exemplified the Highlander spirit through community service and civic engagement this week as they collected thousands of canned food items for underserved schoolchildren.

On Oct. 16-17, students, faculty, staff and university administrators donated more than 15,000 food items as part of the Radford Gives Back canned food drive. The donations help replenish Bobcat Backpacks, a local nonprofit organization founded in 2016 by three alumnae: Daniela Brunner '96, Jenny Riffe '03 and Jane Fisher '94, '00. The program provides 175 Radford City Public Schools (RCPS) students with weekend food during the school year and over the summer.

This past January, the university came together for the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Each year, students, along with faculty and staff, volunteer throughout the New River Valley with various organizations at multiple sites. The event is sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Scholar-Citizen Initiative, Diversity Awareness Programming and McConnell Library.

‘The Shot’ leads athletic memories and milestones

Radford University student-athletes continued to deliver in the classroom as well as athletically.  During the 2017-18 academic year, these Highlanders’ accomplishments included:

  • 48 graduates;
  • 242 Dean’s List members;
  • 63 with a perfect 4.0 GPA; and
  • 26 major individual awards.

The Highlanders won two Big South championships and made three post-season tournament appearances. The women’s volleyball team defeated High Point University to become Big South champions, which propelled them into the NCAA tournament.

Back in March inside the Dedmon Center, then-freshman Carlik Jones made “The Shot” at the buzzer that made Radford Big South Champions and sent the Highlanders to the NCAA Tournament, where they secured the university’s first NCAA Tournament victory and were the only school in the Commonwealth of Virginia to earn a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill delivers his second State of the University address.
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill delivers his second State of the University address.

The Master Plan

The 10-year master plan will be informed by engagement from the campus community, including recently-held open forums. Meetings began in April and planning will continue over the next year.

‘Rookies’ no more

At the inaugural State of the University address, Hemphill announced the Research Rookies program, which is an initiative designed to provide select freshmen and sophomores an opportunity to collaborate on research projects with the university’s faculty.

For the program’s inaugural year, 15 apprenticeships were awarded to high-achieving and highly-motivated students, who were paired with a faculty mentor to begin research projects during the 2018-19 academic year.

Presidential Fellows

President Hemphill announced the establishment of the Presidential Fellows Program, which offers reassigned time to one faculty member during the spring semester to pursue an idea that is designed to enhance the university’s focus on teaching, research and service. The program is administered and sponsored by the Office of the President.

“While fulfilling Radford University’s core values, the Presidential Fellows Program strives to embody the spirit of excellence, creativity, discovery and inclusion, while providing a supportive environment for leadership growth, professional development and relationship building,” Hemphill said.

Making an IMPACT on the community landscape

Just over a year ago, the IMPACT program was announced and subsequently launched. This past summer, the first student graduated from the program – and two more have since graduated – and 488 students are currently enrolled.

President Hemphill concluded the second State of the University address by saying:

We are prepared to define and redefine Radford University.

A university that is driven by our vision of becoming the premier, innovative university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond with a keen focus on teaching, research and service.

A university that is driven by our mission of empowering students from diverse backgrounds by providing transformative educational experiences.

We are committed to our vision.

We are dedicated to our mission.

We are focused on our core values.

We are responsive.

We are resilient.

We are real.

We are Highlanders.

Oct 23, 2018
Max Esterhuizen