President Hemphill surprises students over Zoom
Students in a social media marketing class, taught by Associate Professor of Marketing Gary Schirr, Ph.D., were pleasantly surprised when a very special member of the Radford family appeared on their computer screens.
One student, in particular, was especially excited to see a friendly face many on campus have missed over these past several months.
Radford University senior Lauren Miller, a marketing major, promptly entered Schirr’s virtual classroom via Zoom the morning of April 22.
“I was scrolling through to look at all of my classmates, and one person immediately stood out to me,” Miller said. “I thought, ‘This guy looks familiar, and then it clicked. That’s President Hemphill!’”
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., made several guest appearances in Zoom classrooms throughout the Spring 2020 semester, as a creative and meaningful effort to stay connected and engaged with students during their absence from campus.
Miller, who has met with the President several times in person, said she expected nothing less of him.
“He is a great man,” Miller explained. “He is always trying to talk with students and engage with them. That is just one thing I love about him, and I love about Radford.”
Schirr said he was honored when he learned that President Hemphill expressed interest in meeting with his students.
“I thought this was a great opportunity,” Schirr said. “But, I also understood that his time was tight. He was only going to be able to visit a limited number of classes. So, I was pleasantly surprised the night before when I got a note that said he was going to be in my class in the morning.”
To keep the surprise visit a secret and stay on track with President Hemphill’s busy schedule, Schirr made up an excuse as to why his students had to sign in to class at 10 o’clock sharp.
“It worked, and I think it was a very informative and fun experience for all of them,” he said.
During class, the President checked in with students and asked how they were doing during these challenging times.
“He wanted to make sure we were staying on a positive path through all of this,” Miller said.
He also answered questions, the main one being: “When are we going to be able to come back to campus?”
The Radford family learned the answer to that pressing question on April 28 when President Hemphill announced that the campus will reopen for the Fall 2020 semester following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He was very hopeful,” Miller said. “In his words, he said he was praying for us to come back. He told us multiple times that he misses seeing our faces and that he misses us being on campus.”
President Hemphill and the entire Radford family is excited to reunite in August and continue the Highlander traditions that make Radford University such a special place.