Fall Convocation ceremony opens new academic year for faculty and staff

The Founders Award was presented at Fall Convocation to Radford University Carilion (RUC) Assistant Professor of Nursing Judy B. Jenks ’95, M.S.N., ’02, D.N.P. ’16. From left are interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D.; Jenks; and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D.

It’s a year “that promises to be full of excitement, positive momentum and success.”

Those are the words interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D., spoke in forecasting the upcoming academic year as he welcomed faculty and staff to Bondurant Auditorium on Aug. 19, 2021, for the annual Radford University’s fall convocation on Radford University’s main campus.

The annual event mark the beginning of the new academic year and celebrate the continued success, unwavering commitment and hard work of the Highlander community.

In her welcoming on campus, interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D., acknowledged a number of individuals and groups in attendance, including the newest faculty members to join the Radford family, who have come to the university from as far away as Oregon, Maine and Florida, as well as around Virginia.

“Thank you for choosing Radford; we are so grateful that you are here,” Lepre said.

The interim president also greeted and thanked City of Radford Mayor David Horton and City Manager David Ridpath, as well as the Radford University Foundation, “for their support of the University.”

Lepre recognized the 2020 Dalton Eminent Scholar Award winners; teaching and research faculty recently awarded tenure; and those university employees who have reached service milestones of 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of working and teaching at Radford.

A longstanding tradition at fall convocation is to announce the winners of the Radford University Foundation Faculty Awards. Those honors celebrate outstanding achievement among faculty members. Nominations are made by members of the Radford University community, and the award recipients are recommended to the president by the Faculty Awards Committee.

“Each award recipient receives a certificate, a monetary award and has the privilege of selecting an outstanding student, who will be recognized at a later time,” Rogers explained, “to receive a scholarship in the award recipient’s name.”

The most prestigious award bestowed to a deserving faculty member is the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. It is named in honor of the university’s fourth president. Nominees must have an outstanding record of teaching at Radford University, be professionally active in their discipline and be recognized by colleagues and students as thoroughly knowledgeable in the subject matter and current scholarship of their teaching discipline.

This year’s winner is Assistant Professor of Biology Jamie Lau, Ph.D.


From left are interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Biology Jamie Lau, Ph.D.; Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology Justin Anderson, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of English Michele Ren, Ph.D.; Instructional Designer and Learning Architect in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning Merrie Winfrey, J.D.; Assistant Professor of Dance Ji-Eun Lee, M.F.A.; and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D.


Additional faculty award winners included:

  • Distinguished Faculty Advisor Award – Justin Anderson. Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biology.
  • Distinguished Service Award – Michele Ren, Ph.D., associate professor of English.
  • Award for Administrative and Professional Excellence – Merrie Winfrey, J.D., instructional designer and learning architect in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.
  • Distinguished Creative Scholar Award – Ji-Eun Lee, M.F.A., assistant professor of dance.

This year’s Founders Award was presented to Radford University Carilion (RUC) Assistant Professor of Nursing Judy B. Jenks ’95, M.S.N., ’02, D.N.P. ‘16. Douglas Covington, who served as the university’s fifth president from 1995 to 2005, created the award on the premise that education opens the doors to opportunity.

Lepre thanked faculty and staff for their efforts in making Radford University a place of opportunity where “students can discover their academic passion, gain relevant experience and thrive in the communities in which they will ultimately serve.

“Our students have the opportunity to engage and learn from you, our brilliant and dedicated faculty and staff,” Lepre continued. “With a passion for academic excellence, you are highly skilled at giving students the tools they need to address the complex social, economic and environmental issues confronting our world today.”

Reflecting on the past academic year, Lepre thanked faculty and staff for all they have worked to achieve “as we navigated through uncharted waters,” she said, referring to the university’s response to the COVID-19 global health pandemic.

“We adapted the thoughtfulness and speed to shift our learning modalities and ensure that we did not compromise the quality of the learning experiences that our students received,” she said of the university working to stay well and also remain true to the mission of educating students. “The pandemic shaped our operations and dramatically impacted the way we delivered educational experiences.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming academic year, Lepre heralded the launch of the general education REAL curriculum and “how it will empower each student to customize their academic journey,” she said.

In addition, “The launch of the Academic Success Center,” Lepre said, “will dramatically improve the advisory experience for our students by focusing on first-year success and serving as the hub for all first-year, second-year and transfer student advising.”

In closing her remarks, Lepre said she was looking forward to seeing faculty and staff on campus each day of the upcoming academic year, ensuring the success of Radford University students.

“I wish you all the very best for the upcoming year,” Lepre said.

Aug 27, 2021
Chad Osborne