Board of Visitors members hold final series of meetings for 2020
The Radford University Board of Visitors convened December 3-4, 2020, in the Davis College of Business and Economics for its last quarterly meeting of the year.
Members met responsibly and were masked and physically distanced in a large, open room used regularly for special events.
Throughout the two days of lively discussions and informative meetings, during which the Board was updated on all aspects of the University’s operations, a common theme emerged.
Despite the many challenges the COVID-19 global pandemic presented throughout the Fall 2020 semester, the Radford family found strength, perseverance and resiliency in overcoming and rising above these unprecedented circumstances.
As part of the December 4, 2020 meeting of the full Board, Rector Robert A. Archer and President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., reiterated this consensus.
Rector Archer referred to Radford University as a model of operating successfully under such difficulty.
President Hemphill said, “I cannot be more proud of the manner in which the Radford family responded to this pandemic and came together to demonstrate the many ways in which Highlanders always rise.”
President Hemphill commended the dozens of individuals and entities across campus that displayed unwavering dedication and commitment to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Radford family and contributed to the completion of a successful semester on campus.
Also, in his report to the Board, President Hemphill congratulated the Fall 2020 graduating class of Radford University and Radford University Carilion (RUC) students. The President and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lyn Lepre, Ph.D., conferred degrees virtually to these students on November 20, 2020.
Student Representative to the Board of Visitors Samantha Powell delivered her first presentation to the Board. A senior biology and chemistry double major from Roanoke, Virginia, Powell outlined her platform as the new student representative, a non-voting position on the Board. Powell has established two committees to address her main goals for the student body: networking and unity.
The Administration Information Committee will be responsible for helping students familiarize themselves with campus administrators through interviews, videos and social media. The objective is to help students feel more comfortable approaching and connecting with these campus leaders, who serve as some of their greatest advocates. The Highlander Believers Committee, comprising a diverse group of students, will promote Highlander spirit and support diversity and inclusion initiatives through intentional programming, activities and outreach. An example, Powell said, is encouraging students to support the talented Highlander athletic teams whether in person, through social media or other creative outlets.
The Board was updated on the newly-established Academic Success Center, which brings together a team of highly skilled individuals who represent key areas within the Divisions of Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Executive Director Corey Cassidy, Ph.D., provided the Board a timeline of the Center’s progress as it continues to support the engagement and success of the student body from pre-orientation through graduation. The Center, with its focus on student outcomes, aligns with the University’s 2018-2023 strategic plan, “Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Trageser, Ed.D., reported on the well-being of the student body in regard to the physical and mental impacts of COVID-19. Vice President Trageser reported that Student Counseling Services has been an effective and well-utilized campus service, especially this semester. Student Counseling Services is currently undergoing accreditation. A new position to support counseling services, specifically an associate director for student advocacy, has been posted to assist with off-campus counseling and mental health referrals.
Also, during the full Board meeting, members approved resolutions to:
- Recognize faculty for their perseverance and fortitude during the challenging semester;
- Recognize senior Chase Arrington and junior Grace Hurst for exemplifying the strong qualities of a Highlander;
- Adopt the Crisis and Emergency Management Plan; and
- Approve the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program.
Prior to the full Board meeting on Friday, members actively engaged in separate committees on Thursday to receive in-depth reports from campus administrators.
Business Affairs and Audit Committee
Committee Chair Gregory Burton began the meeting by introducing University Auditor Margaret McManus. McManus reported that 100% of University discretionary fund expenditures were reviewed, and all were found in compliance with the Board’s guidelines.
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Chad A. Reed updated the committee on several of the University’s capital projects in progress, including the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity, as well as The Highlander, a hotel and conference center and the River Campus project.
The Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity project is moving forward and awaiting final execution of the 2020-22 biennial budget bond package. Plans for The Highlander, in partnership with and support of the Radford University Foundation, Inc., are also in progress. The properties at which the hotel will be positioned have been vacated and will be ready for demolition in January 2021. Progress of the River Campus project has largely been delayed due to COVID-19. The first part of this project is to provide easier access to the river, which will require renovation of the University Drive Bridge. This renovation is being discussed among University administrators and city representatives.
Vice President Reed also provided an update on the 2020-22 Biennial Budget. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Reed reported that the University has maintained a strong fiscal stewardship. A highlight of the budget breakdown was $3.6 million allocated to the University in the form of COVID-19 relief support from the Commonwealth of Virginia. This financial support was utilized to reimburse the University for the costs associated with securing much-needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, and enhancing technologies to support both hybrid and virtual learning formats.
Academic Excellence and Research Committee
This meeting, chaired by Thomas Brewster, M.S. ’95, Ed.D., first heard from Provost Lepre, who joined the Radford family in July 2020.
The Provost announced the emeritus status of two retired faculty members:
- Associate Professor Roxie Novak (posthumous), Department of Mathematics and Statistics; and
- Professor Patricia Shoemaker, School of Teacher Education and Leadership.
Provost Lepre then engaged the committee in a discussion on “The Impact of Teaching Modality on Student Learning and Success.” During this presentation, she discussed how students navigated virtual, face-to-face and hybrid learning formats this past semester. Lepre reported that students’ overall GPA remained almost the same from Fall 2019, reducing only slightly from 2.91 to 2.89.
Faculty Senate President Katie Hilden, Ph.D., also presented to the committee. Hilden, a professor of literacy education, reported a productive fall semester, noting that the Senate considered and passed 40 motions. She also updated the committee on the new REAL model, which remains on track to begin in Fall 2021.
Attesting to the strength, compassion and resiliency of the University’s outstanding faculty, staff and students, she called the theme of this fall semester “collaboration.”
“We’ve shown that faculty and administration together will address the challenges we face as a University,” Hilden said.
Student Success Committee
At the Student Success Committee, chaired by Debra McMahon, Ph.D., Student Government Association (SGA) President Christopher Davis discussed the many ways in which to keep students on campus connected in a safe and responsible way amidst COVID-19 concerns.
Students on main campus are encouraged to reach out to RUC students in an effort to stay better connected. A meet-and-greet between the two campuses is scheduled for next semester.
SGA is also encouraging students to fill out their daily symptom tracker by hosting social media challenges and offering rewards for students who diligently fill out their tracker. The group is also working with the Radford City Police Department on an initiative to create a better relationship between students and law enforcement. SGA President Davis also explained a proposed Black Lives Matter resolution to continue support for students of color and maintain a diverse and safe campus for all students.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Angie Mitchell joined Associate Vice President for Student Life Tricia Smith for an update on diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. The Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with various campus partners, is working to expand its small group mentorship circles, which involve students who share commonalities and provides a safe space to discuss daily life. There is also a growing number of students taking part in the Social Change Certificate that provides students with the tools to discuss social change when returning home and in other environments that may be less understanding.
Vice President Trageser shared with the committee an expansion of opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage in diversity and inclusion discussions.
Advancement, University Relations and Enrollment Management Committee
Chaired by Lisa Throckmorton ’94, the committee heard from Vice President for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell, who reported on the University’s preliminary fall recruitment numbers. While Fall 2021 applications are coming in slowly — a trend of higher education institutions nationwide — financial aid submissions are currently up approximately 400.
Vice President Cornell also updated the committee on new recruitment initiatives, noting the importance and value in developing a more programmatic approach to marketing and recruitment efforts. Cornell provided a sample of this targeted marketing approach, which will focus on 13 different programmatic pieces to help students better connect with their specific majors. The project includes multiple marketing concepts, such as emails, videos and postcards.
Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Wendy Lowery provided updates on University Relations, Alumni Relations, Annual Giving, Major Gifts and the Capital Campaign, as well as an overview of giving.
A highlight of Vice President Lowery’s report included a successful 2020 Virtual Homecoming, with more than 60 events/activities and 32 states and 12 countries represented.
The University Relations team rolled out several major video projects this past semester, including the State of the University Address, tour and programmatic videos and the degree conferral in November.
Lowery also announced that the capital campaign is on track to launch virtually in Spring 2021.
Governance, Administration and Athletics Committee
Committee Chair Jay A. Brown, Ph.D., led the meeting as it received reports from Special Advisor to the President for Partnerships and Chief Innovation Officer Angela M. Joyner, Ph.D., and Director of Athletics Robert G. Lineburg.
Chief Innovation Officer Joyner presented information about the University’s Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab and its strategic vision to leverage disruptors and provide education opportunities to working adults and adult learners in the immediate future.
Joyner said the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many disruptors, but it has also provided the University with a competitive advantage to capitalize on events happening in the marketplace.
The Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab provides competency-based education to adult learners. Since its inception, the lab has provided self-paced, online and asynchronous courses to thousands of learners in the areas of cybersecurity, geospatial intelligence and K-12 education.
Following her presentation, Joyner asked committee members to lend their expertise in thinking about how the IMPACT Lab might capitalize on industry disruptors, workforce needs and future workforce trends to better serve adult learners and drive future growth.
Director Lineburg briefed the Board with the latest updates on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which presents the Department of Athletics with an opportunity to examine its commitment to racial and social justice in athletics on campus.
Lineburg also briefed the Board on the potential for future growth, which could include adding a women’s acrobatics and tumbling team and a men’s wrestling team to the University’s athletic programs. A 15,000 square-foot athletic practice and competition facility was referenced as part of the potential future growth areas for athletics.
Lineburg said FieldTurf is being added to the Sherman Carter Memorial Stadium baseball field. The project is 100% privately funded and is expected to be completed by January 2021.
In September, Lineburg said, Radford Athletics and the Highlander Club announced the creation of the Women’s Sports Leadership Fund to support Radford’s 10 women’s sports programs in the areas of scholarship, academic development and enrichment programs. Female student-athletes make up 61% of the 2020-21 student-athlete population.
Lineburg told the Board that fan cutouts and virtual tickets are available to help support athletics. Fans have the option to select the location where their personal cutouts will be placed: Dedmon Center, Cupp Stadium, Radford Softball Stadium or Carter Memorial Stadium.
The Board of Visitors will hold future meetings on February 11-12, 2021 and April 22-23, 2021.