Radford University announces inaugural Presidential Fellow

Amy Rubens

Assistant Professor of English Amy Rubens has been named Radford University’s inaugural Presidential Fellow.

The Radford University Presidential Fellows Program was introduced by President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. in his State of the University Address last October. The new initiative creates opportunities for faculty members to dedicate time, expertise and passion to a specific project, while fulfilling the University’s mission to serve current and future generations of Highlanders. Additionally, the program was established to provide professional development opportunities for faculty members who have a desire to explore higher education administration.

President Hemphill said, “I look forward to working with Dr. Rubens as she provides continued dedication and service to the University and builds upon her professional experiences and interests. Dr. Rubens has a proven track record at Radford University and one that is focused on teaching excellence and student success. I know that her many contributions to the University will expand through this unique opportunity, and I look forward to her continued journey as the inaugural Presidential Fellow.”

As the selected Presidential Fellow, Rubens will have an office in Martin Hall providing for collaboration and engagement with the President and other members of the University’s senior leadership team. The special assignment is for one semester.

For the selected project, Rubens will spend the 2019 fall semester working alongside the administration on a variety of assignments and projects. As part of the selection, Rubens developed a proposal for a 15 credit undergraduate minor in health humanities, an area of study that closely aligns with the impending merger of Radford University and Jefferson College of Health Sciences.

“It is an honor to receive this distinguished fellowship opportunity, and I am very excited to work with President Hemphill and his leadership team,” Rubens said. “I would like to also thank Dr. Rosemary Guruswamy, chair of Radford University’s Department of English, for motivating me to explore and pursue this endeavor.”


Rubens earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined Radford University’s Department of English as assistant professor in 2015 and brings extensive writing and literary knowledge to the University, including more than a decade of research in health humanities.

In addition to her work within the Department of English, Rubens is the co-coordinator of the University’s Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing and a faculty partner of the Virginia Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts.

Health humanities, Rubens explained, involves studying illness, disabilities, caretaking and other health issues from a variety of perspectives, not just from a biological standpoint. Students can study health humanities in criminal justice, English, philosophy, social work and other programs in which Radford University excels.

When the merger with Jefferson College of Health Sciences and the Presidential Fellows Program were announced last year, Rubens said she felt it was “the right time for Radford University to bring health humanities to our students.”

“The health humanities minor I envision encourages the interdisciplinary exploration of the lived experience of health, illness, medicine and caretaking,” Rubens explained. “As an attainable ‘microcredential’ that complements the content and structure of existing degree pathways, the health humanities minor will train all students to think critically about the role health plays in their own lives, communities and future professions.”

Because the proposed minor cultivates a humanistic understanding of health, many of the courses associated with it are already offered within the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. With additional support of other colleges, notably the Artis College of Science and Technology and the Waldron College of Health and Human Services, the minor could be expanded to 18 credits. While the curriculum would primarily consist of existing class offerings in the University’s academic catalog, Rubens would develop proposals for the minor’s two required courses that are not yet part of the catalog.

In addition to working on the proposals, Rubens will devote much of her time as a Presidential Fellow to building alliances across campus and overseeing the proposals through the approval process.

About the Presidential Fellows Program

Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Presidential Fellows Program offers reassigned time to one faculty member during a semester to pursue an idea that is designed to enhance the University’s focus on teaching, research and service. 

While fulfilling Radford University’s core values, the 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.

Approved projects will support the academic excellence, student success, research progress, economic development and civic engagement goals as outlined in the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, “Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future.”

In developing projects, faculty are encouraged to submit an idea that encourages collaboration and coordination. Projects should be designed to be completed in one semester, although a second semester is possible based on administrative needs and academic teaching.

To be considered for the Radford University Presidential Fellows Program, candidates should be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member with a proven record of outstanding scholarly and/or creative activities toward the mission of the University and of supporting the Radford family’s guiding principles of excellence, accountability, transparency and student-centeredness.

Interested faculty are invited to submit an application to the Office of the President between November 1 and December 1 of each year. 

Feb 18, 2019
Mary Hardbarger
(540) 831-5150