Fun, sun highlight Highlander Family Reunion during Homecoming Weekend

Two alumni pose for a picture during the 2019 Alumni Village.
Two alumni pose for a picture during the 2019 Alumni Village.

Alumni of all ages enjoyed the festive events during 2019 Homecoming Weekend as part of the annual Alumni Village, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, held on Moffett Lawn.

The Alumni Village featured a great variety of activities, including food trucks, The Deloreans, a lacrosse match, organizational tents and the annual Greek Life chariot races. The ‘80s “Totally RAD” theme set the tone for the event.

“It’s fun,” said Sean Hagarty ‘87. “Every time I come back, I am amazed at what has changed. My wife and I went to school in the mid-80s, so a lot of the buildings are brand new for us. I love the energy on campus.”

Sean’s wife, Susan, graduated in ’86 and was able to attend the annual State of the University Address on October 25, 2019 delivered by President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

“President Hemphill is so dynamic,” Susan said. “I want to go back to school. I’m so excited!”

Cynthia Beckner ’73, a music education major, had a unique experience at Radford University. When Cynthia attended Radford, it was a women’s-only college, and she lived in Muse Hall the first year it opened. She also attended the University when it became co-ed, and the first male student, a transfer student, graduated with her class.

Cynthia enjoys seeing the changes to Radford, as well as meeting and talking with both students and other alumni.

Students, representing their respective colleges or organizations, hosted tents and, in the process, learned of Highlanders from years past.

Tents and tables from various campus organizations lined Moffett Lawn.

Tents and tables from various campus organizations lined Moffett Lawn.

“It’s been really cool,” said Autumn Hart, a psychology major from Grayson County. “I’ve been able to interact with a lot of people and a lot of alumni who came back this weekend. They’ve been enthusiastic and really nice. I’ve gotten hugs and pictures with the alumni.”

The Totally RAD VIP Experience offered a twist to the annual events, providing attendees with an opportunity to get appetizers and refreshments on Moffett Lawn.

During halftime of the annual lacrosse game, President Hemphill presented the Greek Life Challenge awards to the fraternity or sorority who raised the most money to support Radford University Greek Life programming and scholarships. While just one of the 24 fraternities and sororities was declared the winner, all chapters participating in the competition worked to benefit Highlanders and the surrounding community.

The ‘80s “Totally RAD” guided this sorority's tent.
The ‘80s “Totally RAD” theme inspired this sorority's tent.

Despite a late surge from Chi Upsilon Sigma, Phi Kappa Sigma won the competition by raising $4,200 from 75 donors in 30 days and garnering support from all 31 of its members. This year’s winner will receive $1,929, generously provided by the Radford University Foundation, Inc., as a way to honor Fraternity and Sorority Life’s beginning at Radford in 1929.

This year, fraternities and sororities raised nearly $13,000 from 235 donors to support Greek Life programming and scholarships. During halftime, the Greek Life Chariot Races were also held.

Mike "Flip" DeFilippo ’90 is commonly seen at Radford University events. Flip is on the Board of Directors for the Radford University Alumni Association, serves as president of the National Capital Region Radford University Alumni Chapter, sits on the Alumni Advisory Board for the Artis College of Science and Technology and serves as chapter advisor for Phi Kappa Sigma.

Flip is involved, because alumni helped him find his way when he joined the Radford family. He wants to be able to provide the same guidance for current students.

“I have an opportunity to be a good role model for the students,” Flip said. “You can’t put a price on giving back, and there are always ways to volunteer or to give back. We try to instill that and remind people of what a great experience we had at Radford.”

At the Alumni Village, the parade of tents, the comradery, all of the organizations stood out to Flip. “The family-feel is special,” he said.

Justin Daniels ’19, a current Ph.D. student at Notre Dame and a Radford legacy student, is one of the most recent Highlanders to join the ranks of alumni. Although his time on campus as a student concluded this past spring, he still enjoyed seeing Radford University from a new perspective.

“The perspective is very different as a young alumnus,” Justin said. “It has enabled me to see the University from a new angle and definitely one I appreciate.”

Radford University students enjoy the Alumni Village festivities.
Radford University students enjoy the Alumni Village festivities.

For former basketball players Anthony Brown ’06 and Ivan Wilson ’06, their trip to campus served a new purpose – seeing their teammate Whit Holcomb-Faye ‘06 get inducted into the Radford Athletics Hall of Fame.

“It brought back a lot of memories for me. They played a video that had a lot of pictures of us,” Anthony said. “For me, it brought back a lot of memories, because I was with Whit and then left school for military obligations and came back and saw his growth. It was very touching seeing him speak. It meant a lot to a lot of people.”

Ivan said it was good seeing one of their teammates be recognized for their achievements and accomplishments.

“It was our first time at one of those events, seeing how the University recognizes and appreciates the athletes from over the years,” Ivan said. “It was good to see the brotherhood and the family environment.”

The family environment carried over to the other Homecoming festivities, both players said.

“Everything is amazing. It really shows the community atmosphere,” Anthony said. “Seeing people you haven’t seen in a while and running into professors. It’s good to catch up with classmates that you haven’t seen over the years.”

Ivan said it is “fun to reminisce about our time at Radford.”

“One thing that stood out to me was that I saw a lot of professors and students from when we were here who are either still at Radford or now work for the University,” Ivan said. “It is really keeping the Radford family going.”

What was evident throughout the weekend was the energy from across campus. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were excited about the weekend and what Radford University represents both individually and collectively.

“The faculty, the students and the alumni should be thankful that we have a guy like President Hemphill leading the University,” Sean Hagarty said. “With how engaged he is, I think we are going to see amazing things happening here.”

Oct 30, 2019
Max Esterhuizen