Radford Board of Visitors holds second quarterly meeting

The Radford University Board of Visitors honored outgoing President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., during its second quarterly meeting of the year. From left, Board of Visitors Rector Robert A. Archer, President Hemphill and Board member Krisha Chachra.

The Radford University Board of Visitors honored outgoing President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., and set tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year during its second quarterly meeting of the year.

The Board, in its full meeting on campus Friday, April 23, 2021, honored President Hemphill by establishing the President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., Student Scholarship Fund and naming the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Building Hemphill Hall.

“When I think about my experience here on this campus, it is one that I will never forget,” President Hemphill said after Board member Krisha Chachra read the resolution at the Board’s full meeting on Friday, April 23. “I will always love our faculty, our staff, our students and the Board members here. I have such great appreciation for each of you. I will always have the Highlanders in my heart.”

The Board also voted to set tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year, which calls for tuition to remain the same as the 2020-21 academic year but with a small increase in fees.

Vice Rector James R. Kibler thanked “all the administration and faculty who,” he said, “have come together to ensure tremendous education outcomes for the students of Radford University, and, for the fourth consecutive year, making it possible to deliver high-quality educational content with no increase in tuition.”

In his final report to the Board, President Hemphill spoke about the passing of George M. Harvey Sr., a business owner, community leader and Radford University supporter.

“He will forever be remembered as a true statesman and a beloved Highlander,” President Hemphill said. “My life has forever been positively impacted by my friendship with George in recent years and in his final days. We express our deepest condolences to the Harvey family.”

President Hemphill updated the Board on the progress of The Highlander – a full-service boutique hotel – stating that demolition has begun on the site, and a ground-breaking ceremony is slated for June 15, 2021. The hotel project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

The President informed the Board of recent accolades bestowed upon the University and its academic programs, including the Radford University and Radford University Carilion (RUC) Nursing: Post-Licensure (RN to BSN) programs being ranked as the best online nursing programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia by registerednursing.org. President Hemphill also noted that U.S. News & World Report listed the Davis College of Business and Economics’ Part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in its 2022 Best Part-time MBA rankings.

The Board recognized the extraordinary service of retired Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Danny Kemp. From left are Board of Visitors Rector Robert A. Archer, Kemp and President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

The President expressed gratitude for the collaboration between the University and the New River Health District in order to “provide the opportunity for the vaccine for all of our faculty and our staff.” He also noted that just a few days after that, the vaccine was made available to all students and every student who wanted access was able to receive the vaccine.

President Hemphill reminded the Board of Commencement ceremonies April 29 through May 2 for 2020 and 2021 graduates. “We look forward to this long-awaited and much-anticipated milestone for our graduates and their families,” he said. He and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lyn Lepre, Ph.D., will attend all 17 ceremonies.

While presenting special recognitions to the Board, Rector Robert A. Archer further acknowledged President Hemphill’s service to the University.

“I want to thank President Hemphill and his family for their leadership and outstanding accomplishments while at Radford University, setting us on a course of continued growth and greatness into the future,” Archer said. “I personally have never worked with a more dedicated and talented leader, and I thank him for his work on our behalf. He will always be a Highlander. Thank you, President.”

Archer read a resolution recognizing the “extraordinary service” of retired Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Danny Kemp, for his “exemplary career spanning five decades of dedicated service” and “a meaningful career comprised of effective and thoughtful decision making and sound leadership,” the Rector said. Kemp retired from Radford in June 2020.

Also, during the full Board meeting, members approved resolutions to:

  • Separate the School of Nursing, as a stand-alone academic unit, from the Waldron College of Health and Human Services;
  • Provide teaching and research faculty tenure and faculty promotions for 2021-2022;
  • Discontinue the post-graduate certificate of gerontology;
  • Discontinue the post-baccalaureate certificate in music pedagogy; and
  • Adopt the Investment of Employee Benefit Funds Policy and Retirement Administrative Committee Charter. 

In addition, the Board voted to suspend its bylaws to allow for the re-election of Archer as rector for a third consecutive term. Archer was re-elected, and in a separate vote, Jay A. Brown, Ph.D., was elected vice rector.

The Board named Grace Hurst, a communication major from Dublin, Virginia, as its student representative for the 2021-22 academic year. Members thanked outgoing student representative Samantha Powell for her service throughout the past year.

The Board recognized Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Operations Ashley Schumaker for her service to the University. Schumaker will join President Hemphill at Old Dominion University. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen somebody do so much so well,” Archer said of Schumaker.

A resolution recognizing James R. Kibler was read as his term on the Board of Visitors expires June 30, 2021.  Gregory A. Burton and Karyn K. Moran ’88, whose service to the Board also expires, were recognized.

The Board recognized Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Operations Ashley Schumaker for her service to the University. From left are Board of Visitors Rector Robert A. Archer, Schumaker and President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg introduced newly hired Men’s Basketball Head Coach Darris Nichols, a Radford native who has spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. Nichols will step into the role following the departure of Mike Jones, who has served as Radford men’s basketball coach for the past 10 years and is taking on the same position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“The thing that attracted me to Radford University is the people,” said Nichols, who becomes the eighth men’s head basketball coach in Highlanders history. “I feel the support, and I feel the love. That’s really special to me, and I’m looking forward to getting to work.”

Chief of Staff Schumaker later provided the Board with a midterm update for the University’s 2018-23 Strategic Plan, highlighting academic excellence and research, brand identity, economic development and community partnerships, philanthropic giving and alumni engagement, strategic enrollment growth and student success. “It encompasses a bold vision set by President Hemphill with ambitious goals and detailed strategies,” Schumaker said of the strategic plan, which the Board approved in December 2017. “There are more than 100 items in the strategic plan that we’ve been working diligently to implement.”

Schumaker said regular progress reports, organized by focal areas, are posted on the strategic plan website.

Before the Board’s full meeting on Friday, members actively engaged in separate committees on Thursday, April 22, 2021, to receive in-depth reports from campus administrators.

Business Affairs and Audit Committee

Susan Whealler Johnston, Ph.D., led the meeting as the committee first heard a report from Auditor of Public Accounts Zachary Borgerding.

Borgerding presented an update on the audit of the University’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements. He reported that all audit procedures have been completed, and final results of the audit will soon be made available to the Board.

University Auditor Margaret McManus also updated committee members on several audit procedures, including the revenue collection point audit of intercollegiate athletics.

Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Chad A. Reed updated the committee on several of the University’s capital projects, including construction of The Highlander. The hotel, Reed noted, will feature a rooftop gathering space and a 4,000-square-foot conference space.

Vice President Reed reported that the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity has received funding and final approval from the state. He highlighted several of the building’s sustainable features, including the goal for it to be LEED-Silver certified.

Vice President Reed concluded the committee meeting with an in-depth report and discussion on the University’s 2021-22 tuition and fees.

Academic Excellence and Research Committee

This meeting, chaired by Thomas Brewster, M.S. ’95, Ed.D., heard a report from Provost Lepre, who recommended approval for teaching and research faculty tenure and promotions for 24 faculty members for the 2021-22 academic year.

Faculty approved for tenure were:

  • Artis College of Science and Technology: Amy J. Balija;
  • College of Education and Human Development: Ryan C. Smith;
  • College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences: Jamie Lynn McDaniel, Melinda A. Cruz, Nicholas A. Lee, Pei-Chun Tsai and Joanna M. Hunter;
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts: Robyn Lynn Berg;
  • Davis College of Business and Economics: Can Dogan and Jae Hwan Jeong; and
  • Waldron College of Health and Human Services: Shala Christine Cunningham, William H. Kolb, Wendy Rogister Downey and Marjorie Higgins Young.

Provost Lepre announced that President Hemphill awarded emeritus status to three distinguished Radford faculty members. The newly named emeriti faculty members are:

  • Victoria Bierman, associate professor of nursing;
  • Joel Hagen, professor of biology; and
  • William “Bill” Kennan, professor of communication.

Provost Lepre introduced the recommendation for the School of Nursing to separate from the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and become a stand-alone academic unit. She also recommended for approval the discontinuation of the post-graduate certificate in gerontology and the post-baccalaureate certificate in music pedagogy, citing lack of student interest in both programs.

Executive Director of General Education Nicole Hendrix, Ph.D., updated the committee on REAL, an innovative and student-centered curriculum that “puts students first,” she said, and “focuses on building credentials through academic experiences within majors, minors and certificates. REAL will begin in Fall 2021.”

“Radford’s future is REAL,” Hendrix stated. “This curriculum and the ways in which we have all worked together to make it successful demonstrate, more than anything I've ever been a part of, the amazing possibilities that exist at Radford University. This curriculum sets us apart and offers something no other institution in the Commonwealth has. I'm excited about the fall and looking forward to seeing how students make the most of REAL.”

Faculty Senate President Katie Hilden, Ph.D., said in her report that the senate has had an “incredibly productive year,” having passed, to date, 157 motions, which included updating the Teaching and Research Faculty Handbook. She highlighted the Faculty Morale Survey results and expressed gratitude to the Department of Sociology faculty and students for their collaborative partnership with the Division of Student Affairs to establish a food pantry in Heth Hall in order to combat food insecurity on campus.

“This represents some of the best work that we do with our students,” Hilden said. “Radford faculty and students are continuing to learn together and to serve together. Faculty are making a difference with our students in our own community, and the impacts of these types of courses go far beyond the walls of the classroom and the Zoom room. I believe these are the types of experiences that make Radford University so unique.”

The Radford University Board of Visitors met on campus April 22-23 for its second quarterly meeting of 2021.

Student Success Committee

Chaired by Debra McMahon, Ph.D., the committee first heard from Student Government Association (SGA) President Christopher Davis ’21.

Davis reported on several successful SGA-organized events this spring, including Wellness Week, Sustainability Week, Unity Fest and a Consent Campaign. Every event, Davis said, adhered to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

As community service projects, members participated in a trash pick-up and volunteered at the vaccination clinics held at the Dedmon Center. Members also collected school supplies and toiletries that were donated to a pantry located in McConnell Library.

SGA members are continuing to foster a close relationship with students at Radford University Carilion (RUC). Most recently, they involved RUC students in the annual Unity Fest, which aims to bring the campus communities closer together.

Davis plans to attend Clemson University to earn a master’s degree in student affairs. The committee commended him for his service, calling him “an inspiration” and someone who truly cares about others.

SGA elections were held this spring, and Grace Hurst, who also was named by the Board as its student representative, was elected president. Hurst serves as a student representative of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and reported to the committee several SCHEV updates.

Members of SCHEV’s Student Advisory Committee organized into two subcommittees – policy and advocacy and campus engagement.

Hurst served on the campus engagement committee. Their recommendations included elevating awareness of campus happenings – its successes and issues – through social media. Her committee also addressed food insecurity on college campuses and the importance of mental health and counseling services.

Hurst will begin her service as the next SGA president during the Fall 2021 semester.

Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Trageser, Ed.D., also highlighted the opening of the new on-campus food pantry for students, faculty and staff, The Highlander Pantry, which has received agency status.

This semester, the University celebrated more than 600 new freshmen who made the Dean’s List, Vice President Trageser said. She also recognized 44 hard-working resident assistants (RA) who achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher and 11 who received a 4.0.

Vice President Trageser also highlighted the recent Traditions Week of five signature events for every grade level. At each event, students received a unique gift, such as a keychain, commemorative coin or T-shirt.

Advancement,  University Relations and Enrollment Management Committee

Chaired by Lisa Throckmorton ’94, the committee heard from Vice President for  Enrollment Management Craig Cornell on the enrollment picture for the upcoming year. Applications through mid-April have declined somewhat over previous years, following national trends, Vice President Cornell said. However, the percentage of admitted students has risen substantially, by about 6% over last year and 11.5% over 2019.

Current enrollment scenarios also appear on track to equal or improve on numbers from 2019, a pre-pandemic year that reflects a more typical scenario for new students. Numbers based on deposits are also solid for transfer students, Vice President Cornell said, with an academically strong pool of applicants combined with strong admit percentages.

Vice President Cornell also reported additional strong interest and growth for Fall 2021 at RUC. Applications have risen by 63% and admits by 125%. Transfer admits have also been strong, with a 31% increase.

Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Wendy Lowery reported on University Relations’ successful collaboration with VisionPoint, a higher education marketing agency, in creating social media and advertising campaigns to drive admissions and enrollment. Online metrics – bounce rate, page visits and duration – are all encouraging, Vice President Lowery said.

In addition, the University’s social media presence is strong, with Radford significantly outperforming benchmarks on Instagram and Facebook. Vice President Lowery also noted the re-launch of the RUC Healthcare Heroes promotions in traditional and digital markets and the University’s Creative Services team winning a gold Addy for the University Brand Guide from the American Advertising Federation’s Roanoke chapter.

Vice President Lowery praised the success of Alumni Relations’ initiatives to engage Highlanders online. Also showing strong results were fundraising initiatives, such as the Rad48 campaign, which exceeded its goal to have a donor for every student-athlete, the telephone outreach program and the ongoing Climb to 25. As the department geared up for the launch of the TOGETHER campaign in late April, total giving to date for the fiscal year 2021 amounts to $16,233,581, an increase of more than $9 million from the previous year. President Hemphill called the amount “a historic number” and thanked the Advancement team for its remarkable work.

Vice President Lowery also noted that this was the last Board meeting for Caitlyn Scaggs ’07, associate vice president for University Relations. The Board joined Vice President Lowery in thanks and good wishes for Scaggs, who was leaving for a position outside the University at the end of April.

Governance, Administration and Athletics Committee

Committee Chair Jay A. Brown, Ph.D., led the meeting as the committee heard a report from Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Robert Lineburg.

Lineburg informed the committee of the hiring of Coach Nichols and highlighted the successes of the men’s and women’s basketball teams for the 2020-21 academic year, which included a second-place finish for the men’s team in the Big South Conference regular season.

He provided highlights and updates on the progress of spring sports teams, including men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s golf.

Annsley Eckert, Lineburg reported, was named Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women’s cross country, and Joe Limo was named to the Big South All-Academic team for men’s cross country. Women’s soccer player Kayla Thomas was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, and women’s tennis player Salma Loudili was named Big South Player of the Year and the conference’s Freshmen of the Year.

Lineburg spoke about the Virtual RUBY’s Awards Banquet to be held April 26, 2021 to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments for all 275 student-athletes, coaches and staff. He provided updates on resource development and reminders of important dates and initiatives for Athletics, including the Highlander Half Marathon and 5K presented by Carilion Clinic on May 8, 2021.

The next Radford University Board of Visitors meeting is scheduled for August 8-10, 2021.

May 7, 2021
Chad Osborne