Radford University announces dedicated alumna and Artis College namesake as Spring Commencement speaker

Alumna Nancy E. Artis ’73 will serve as the keynote speaker for the Spring Commencement ceremonies

Alumna Nancy E. Artis ’73 will serve as the keynote speaker for the Spring Commencement ceremonies to be held for Radford University Carilion (RUC) on Friday, May 8, 2020, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Berglund Center, and for the main campus on Saturday, May 9, 2020, beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Moffett Lawn. Approximately 1,750 students are expected to graduate as part of the academic ceremonies and special events, which will be held over a number of days.

President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. said, "Radford University is fortunate to have Nancy as a dedicated and distinguished member of the Radford family as her deep love and genuine enthusiasm for her alma mater have no limits. Time and time again, she has engaged with the campus and the community in profound ways. Her expertise was instrumental in charting a new course for our great institution through a multi-year strategic planning process with service on the Strategic Planning Task Force and the Academic Excellence and Research Subgroup. Her leadership of the Radford University Foundation Board of Directors has been influential in furthering a culture of giving and an expanded commitment to investing in our students, our programs, and our communities. From academics to the arts and athletics, Nancy has continuously demonstrated her unwavering passion and generous support for her fellow Highlanders. She is a true Highlander in the greatest sense and embodies the best of the Radford spirit.”

“I was surprised and honored when Dr. Hemphill asked me to be the Commencement speaker. I look forward to sharing my experiences and advice to the Radford University Class of 2020,” said Nancy. “My life and career were shaped by the transformative education I received as a student.” A 1973 biology graduate of Radford University, Nancy currently serves as Chair of the Radford University Foundation Board of Directors and as a member of the Artis College of Science and Technology Alumni Advisory Council. She previously served on the University’s Board of Visitors (2006-2013). She is married to H. Pat Artis, Ph.D., who serves as a Professor of Practice in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. The Artises, who reside in Blacksburg, Virginia, owned Performance Associates, Inc., a Pagosa Springs, Colorado based company focused on performance and replication for enterprise storage subsystems. The company provided educational and consulting services, as well as a family of software products. 


In April 2017, the Radford family joined together for a historic announcement in which the Artises contributed $5 million to Radford University, thereby establishing the Artis Endowed Scholarship Fund, naming the Artis College of Science and Technology, and representing the largest individual donation by an alumnus to Radford University. Upon learning of Nancy’s selection as the Spring 2020 Commencement speaker, Artis College of Science and Technology Dean J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D. said, “Nancy has truly made Radford University a better place through her life-long dedication as a loyal alumna and enthusiastic supporter. She has generously shared her professional expertise, insightful perspectives, and boundless energy with our students, faculty, and staff. Her inspirational leadership and creative ideas have provided new opportunities for success, and her generous contributions have funded specialized teaching and learning facilities, awards, and scholarships. She is an exemplary role model of a successful corporate executive, who values her past and shares our vision of a bright future for Radford University.”


In addition to Nancy’s engagement and support of the Artis College of Science and Technology, she has been highly-involved with students studying in the Davis College of Business and Economics and those interested in learning about business models and embracing innovative approaches. She has volunteered her time and offered her expertise on numerous occasions to inspire and mentor students, including her most recent role as a judge in the fifth annual BB&T Innovation Challenge. Professor of Management Steve Childers, Ph.D. said, “Over several years, Nancy has generously given her time to help our students better understand the innovation and business development processes. She has an amazing ability to connect with students through probing questions to learn the students’ underlying motivation behind their venture ideas. She then gives targeted feedback and guidance in a way that ensures clarity and a pathway forward. Whether it be serving as a judge in the final round of the competition, providing workshops on how to pitch, or in one-on-one conversations with individual students, Nancy has always been willing to share her talents. Our students are for the better due to her involvement.”

Nancy is no stranger to the College of Visual and Performing Arts and regularly supports students in the Department of Design. Through her active engagement with fashion design and interior design students, she has hosted design competitions, assisted with professional readiness for students in a variety of ways, and provided numerous scholarship awards. As part of the spring fashion show, called Fashion Fête, Nancy proudly modeled a gown designed by Radford students through a competitive process. Department of Design Chair Holly Cline, Ph.D. said, “Her support of the Department of Design is too numerous to list. She is an excellent model of a Radford alumna, philanthropist, and friend!”

Feb 13, 2020
Ashley Schumaker