Former Photography Professor Andrew Ross Challenges Donors to Match $125,000 Gift to Visiting Artist Legacy Fund

A generous gift from former Radford University photography professor Andrew Ross will strengthen a visiting artist fund named in his honor at the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). Ross donated $125,000 to the Andrew W. Ross Visiting Artist Legacy Fund and has pledged to match additional donations to the fund, dollar-for-dollar, up to that amount. The fund will bring guest artists to the Radford campus and will benefit all CVPA programs, including art, dance, design, music theatre and cinema.

Former assistant professor of photography Andrew Ross at the reception and announcement of the formation of the Andrew W. Ross Endowed Photography Scholarship at Radford University in 2018.

“When I established the guest artist fund, I wanted it to reach across all of the arts represented by the College of Visual and Performing Arts,” Ross recalled. “To me, there is so much potential for cross-pollination among the many arts disciplines, as evidenced by students who double-major, major and minor, or just take a few classes among the five departments of CVPA. I believe growing this fund will help it better achieve this goal. And, I hope other patrons of Radford’s wonderful variety of visual and performative arts will agree.”

Ross began teaching at Radford in August 2014 but stepped down from his position at the close of the 2018 spring semester after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shortly after, he moved back to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he had lived for many years.

Despite the distance and the ongoing battle with his illness, Ross has remained an enthusiastic Highlander. He was often celebrated for his positive impact on students, passion for photography and dedication to the University during his time in the New River Valley. That commitment continues to this day.

“Radford University has a unique position in southwest Virginia and the region to place the performing and visual arts at the forefront of a liberal arts education,” Ross shared. “Bringing top-notch artists to enrich the student and community experience will raise the profile of the University and attract more students who want to participate in that experience.”

The CVPA brings a wide variety of guest artists and creative scholars to the Radford campus. These arts professionals not only bring high-quality performances, exhibitions and lectures to the campus community; they also work closely with students in the classroom. Having access to artists from the “real world” provides students with an important perspective in terms of developing career goals and networking opportunities.

Sophomore music major Hudson Crowe agreed, saying of his work with Italian pianist Gloria Campaner, “Bringing in guest artists is something that drastically changes my experience at Radford. The ability for us to bring in exceptional educators and musicians from all walks of life — and the other side of the world —is something that I value immensely.”

Morgan Davis, a junior dance major, echoed Crowe’s thoughts, pointing to her life-changing experiences with guest artists at Radford.

“A guest artist lights a fire when they come in the classroom,” Davis said, “and that fire stays lit for the rest of the time you are at Radford University. Once the guest artist leaves, we still go back to the lessons they taught and the information they gave us. Having a guest artist come on campus is such a privilege, a privilege that every student at Radford should experience.”

Andrew Ross with, front left, Susan Taylor, Margaret Devaney and, back left, John Bowles and Steve Arbury.

CVPA Dean Margaret Devaney said that Ross’ gift to the visiting artist legacy fund benefits today’s Highlanders and those who join the Radford family in the future.

“Having significant resources for guest artists opens up amazing opportunities for all College of Visual and Performing Arts students and our community,” added. “A strong guest artist program truly changes the caliber of educational experiences we can provide for students for years to come.”

Even though Ross hasn’t been able to teach for two years due to his illness, the legacy of his generosity, ingenuity and dedication to students at Radford University will continue through this innovative program.

Junior theatre major Reghan Cutler said, “When I think of my professors at Radford, I think of people who are invested in my future and success. When professors bring in guest artists, it reaffirms that they want us to learn as much as we can to ensure success in our futures. Through these experiences, I have not only gained a lot of knowledge but even more respect for my amazing professors.”

To give to the Andrew W. Ross Visiting Artist Legacy Fund, visit or call 540-831-5407. You can also contact the Radford University Office of University Advancement at P.O. Box 6893, Radford, VA 24142-6893.

Sep 25, 2020
Mark Lambert