Board of Visitors gathers for quarterly meeting
Radford University’s Board of Visitors met on campus for its quarterly sessions Sept. 9-10, 2021, and approved measures that will continue to drive the university toward its goal of becoming the premier innovative and student-focused higher education institution in Virginia.
In its Sept. 10 meeting, the board approved:
- The 2022-28 six-year capital outlay plan.
- The 2021 six-year plan.
- The university’s 2021-22 operating budget.
- The 2021-22 supplemental tuition and fee rate.
- Amendments to its bylaws.
The six-year 2022-2028 capital outlay plan is a long-term strategy to expand, renovate and develop new spaces in Radford and Roanoke for learning and student activities.
Each university in the Commonwealth submits every two years a capital plan that prioritizes capital projects and indicates funding sources. The plans are submitted in biennial groupings and are used by the Governor of Virginia to prepare the executive budget bill, which is presented each December. Included in Radford’s plan for the next two years are renovations to McConnell Library and improvements to the campus infrastructure.
The supplemental tuition and fee rate became necessary because of the addition of two certificate programs, in cybersecurity and geospatial intelligence, within the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab. The request was made for the rate structure of competency-based education (CBE) content to be positioned to align with a per-credit-hour structure to allow for flexibility and expansion of courses within specified areas of focus. It was proposed that the $350 per credit hour rate would be utilized for all current and future CBE programs.
Radford University Interim President Carolyn R. Lepre, Ph.D., opened her report by recognizing three new Board members, Charlene Curtis ‘76, Lisa Pompa ‘86 and Marquett Smith ’85. Lepre also recognized senior Grace Hurst, the Board’s student representative for the 2021-22 academic year.
“It has been exciting to see the campus come alive as we welcomed back students to campus,” Lepre said. She provided several highlights about the Class of 2025, including:
· More than 16% are first-generation college students.
· Almost 40% were admitted with a GPA of 3.5 or better.
· The Honors College has 130 new students, the largest class since the program began.
Lepre spoke about the university’s continuing efforts to keep the Highlander community safe during COVID, updating the Board on monitoring the pandemic, masking and testing, and vaccination requirements. The university, Lepre noted, has launched two COVID-19 dashboards, one dedicated to testing information and the other to vaccination information. Both are updated weekly.
“Our dashboards are indicative of our commitment to provide transparency and up-to-date information regarding our plans,” Lepre explained.
The COVID-19 working group, the president said, continued its efforts throughout the summer and will meet weekly throughout the fall semester, monitoring guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and other agencies to develop recommendations related to COVID protocols and safety measures.
This year, student vaccination requirements were part of the University’s COVID-19 fall 2021 semester operational plan. Vaccinations and entry testing were available during move-in. “Students who are partially or unvaccinated will be required to test weekly, complete the daily symptom tracker, continue to wear a face mask and maintain distance,” Lepre noted. The university reinstated its indoor masking policy on Aug. 16, she said.
“We are moving forward with living, learning and working at Radford University, in a way that fosters a caring and inclusive community,” Lepre said, “while at the same time supporting our commitment to protecting and promoting the health, safety and well-being of all students, faculty and staff.”
On Sept. 8, Lepre hosted two COVID-19 faculty and staff open forums to provide updates and give the community an opportunity to engage with the university’s fall plans.
Lepre also updated the board on the launch of the university’s new general education curriculum, REAL, and a new marketing campaign that highlights Radford’s academic programs, with the intent, she said, “to showcase our students and faculty and how we bring unique and transformational educational experiences to our students.”
The board heard reports at the Friday meeting from Faculty Senate Representative Katie Hilden, Ph.D.; Rachel Fowlkes, Ed.D., the board liaison to the Radford University Foundation; and Hurst, who outlined initiatives focusing on student mental health, Title IX and sexual assault awareness and student philanthropy.
Lepre also introduced to the board Radford University Carilion (RUC) Assistant Professor of Nursing Judy B. Jenks ’95, M.S.N. ’02, D.N.P. ’16, the winner of the 2021 Founders Award. 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.
Sandra Nicks Baker, director of Institutional Effectiveness and Quality Improvement, and Melanie Fox, associate director for Institutional Effectiveness, presented information and important dates to the board concerning the university’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaffirmation review. All higher education institutions are required by SACSCOC to undergo reaffirmation of accreditation (QEP) every 10 years. As part of the reaffirmation process, a quality enhancement plan was developed with the theme of diversity, equity and inclusion, Baker said.
Before the Board’s full meeting on Friday, members actively engaged in separate committees on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, to receive in-depth reports from campus administrators.
Business Affairs and Audit Committee
Led by Chair Debra K. McMahon, Ph.D., the committee first heard a report from University Auditor Margaret McManus, who updated committee members on several audit procedures. Those included internal and external audit timing, the quarterly review of discriminatory spending through June 2021 and several reports for fiscal year 2021.
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Chad A. Reed presented a report on the write-off of past due accounts, which collected approximately $319,000 in fiscal year 2021. Reed said that the university makes a significant effort to work with those who have past due accounts to develop solutions through payment plans and other means before sending any of them to collection agencies.
Reed then provided an update on several of the university’s capital projects, including the construction of the Artis Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity, a new 178,000 square-foot building that will take the place of Porterfield and McGuffey halls; The Highlander hotel, featuring a 4,000-square-foot conference space; and the River Campus, a project in progress in the area by the New River.
Additionally, Reed discussed the six-year capital outlay plan for 2022-2028, presented the 2020-2021 financial performance report and a recommendation to approve the 2021-2022 operating budget.
Reed also presented the committee with a recommendation on the supplemental tuition and fee rate and concluded the committee meeting with an in-depth presentation on the financial and budget processes of the university.
Academic Excellence and Research Committee
This meeting, chaired by Thomas Brewster, M.S. ’95, Ed.D., heard a report from Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D., about implementing the new REAL curriculum, preparing for the SACSCOC reaffirmation, developing the QEP and exploring learning opportunities for faculty and students through strategic investment proposals and open educational resources (OER).
Radford was one of 66 institutions in the United States to be selected to participate in a new Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Institute on Open Education Resources, Rogers said, and only the second in Virginia, alongside the University of Virginia. OER are education resources, from single lessons to textbooks, that are free for students and faculty to use, revise and share. The goal for OER is increase student engagement and expand access to courses and programs
Rogers introduced new chairs and school directors and said 41 new faculty joined the university for the 2021-22 academic year. He announced that faculty emeritus status has been granted, upon retirement, to:
- Glen Martin, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.
- Kay Jordan, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.
- Iain Clelland, Department of Management.
- Grigory Ioffe, Department of Geospatial Sciences.
Criteria for awarding faculty emeritus status include a minimum of 10 years of service to Radford University, evidence of effective teaching and significant professional contributions.
Rogers also informed the committee about summer outreach programs offered this year through the Artis College of Science and Technology, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, College of Visual and Performing Arts and Waldron College of Health and Human Services.
Rogers updated the committee on the Honors College, which now has its largest enrollment of first-year and total students since 2015-16, and REALISE research, which is aimed at building a community of learners among students in the biology, chemistry and physics disciplines.
Student Success Committee
Led by Vice Chair Debra McMahon, Ph.D., the committee first heard from Student Government Association (SGA) President Grace Hurst.
Hurst reported on the goals for SGA in the 2021-2022 academic year, including collaborating with other organizations and clubs; encouraging new student engagement; promoting mental health resources on campus; and advocating for student needs and concerns. In addition, she spoke about the new committees within SGA that are being developed this year, including parking, mental health wellness and Constitution revisions.
Among the fall activities SGA will organize are athletic tailgating events, a talent showcase, a costume challenge, a wellness week, school supply drives and the annual holiday parade.
Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Trageser, Ed.D., Associate Vice President for Student Life Tricia Smith and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Angie Mitchell then presented “This Is How We Do It: Support and Belonging.”
The presentation detailed the eight tenets, or models of practice, of the Division of Student Affairs at Radford University, including examples of how each has been implemented:
Student-Centered: The club-finder initiative helped students find organizations on campus to join by directly connecting them with groups that fit their interests.
Inclusive: Diverse events like the Ubuntu series expose the community to the broader world.
Caring: The Highlander Food Pantry has served 144 students since opening, with numbers increasing as more find out about the resource.
Collaborative: The Bridge Program with New River Community College (NRCC) is helping students complete their education with advanced degrees on campus.
Learning-Focused: Working with the Center for Social and Culture Research to adapt and commit to professional development.
Excellence: An eSports Club arena is being launched on campus to help students connect their leisure time activities to their academic pursuits.
Efficient: Traditions Week activities were pivoted to an online format and saw a 114% increase in participation. Online counselor services were developed to help the Radford community wherever they are.
Team-Oriented: The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service continues to highlight how Highlanders support communities. The online COVID Call Center was set up to answer questions from the community and beyond.
Advancement, University Relations and Enrollment Management Committee
In his presentation before the committee, chaired by Lisa Throckmorton ’94, Vice President for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell noted several positive trends in fall 2021 enrollment figures. For the first time in 10 years, he said, new freshmen numbers showed an increase in yield – the number of students enrolled compared to the number accepted. Yield was especially high among multicultural students, Cornell said. New freshmen also entered with the second-highest class GPA on record and the highest SAT scores since the standardized tests redesign in 2017. The freshman class also tied for the highest ACT scores on record. In addition, Cornell pointed out that out-of-state transfer enrollments were at their highest in nine years, part of an overall growth trend for out-of-state students. The preliminary headcount for fall 2021 stands at 6,483 undergraduate students and 2,481 graduate students.
Cornell said Enrollment Management is looking ahead to fall 2022 by keeping successful virtual recruitment efforts while phasing in more traditional in-person measures. Radford will diversify and grow its list of prospective students while broadening its reach, he said, re-targeting areas for development and resuming “Radford on the Road” outreach events to connect with students in population centers.
Other recruitment initiatives include programmatic marketing and social media; college- and program-specific events; resuming on-campus events such as Highlander Day and fall open houses; and expanding offerings and recruitment for the NRCC bridge program, RUC, fast-track programs and competency-based education.
Vice President of Advancement and University Relations Wendy Lowery began by praising the Creative Services team’s campus-wide breadth of completed projects and offering information about which pages on the University’s website are most frequently visited; the home page, admissions, wellness check and reopening/vaccine information pages got the most hits over the summer, she said.
Social media efforts are also sound, Lowery said, with especially strong engagement on Instagram and Facebook. On the Advancement side, Alumni Relations has had a number of successful projects, such as the Read with Radford book club, Radford Night at Nationals Park and a sold-out National Capital Region Golf Tournament that raised more than $14,000 for scholarships. Upcoming events include Homecoming 2021 and the Richmond Chapter Golf Tournament, as well as gatherings of alumni focus groups for the search for the university’s next president.
Lowery noted the success of Advancement’s Climb to 25 initiative, which exceeded its goal of 25% faculty and staff giving participation with 27.8%. Dollars raised by telephone outreach also grew from last year, as did crowdfunding efforts. The Together capital campaign has raised a total of $75.3 million toward its $100 million goal, and the Together website received both a DotComm Gold award and a University Standard of Excellence award from the Web Marketing Association. Overall, Lowery said, Advancement’s efforts in fiscal year 2021 have resulted in the most dollars raised in the history of Radford University.
Governance, Administration and Athletics Committee
Committee Chair Jay A. Brown led the meeting as the committee heard reports from interim Chief of Staff Angela M. Joyner, Ph.D., and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Robert Lineburg.
Joyner spoke to the committee about measuring career readiness among students and a comprehensive approach to career development, which involves financial well-being, evaluating job offers and work-based learning in partnership with colleagues, employers and alumni.
Joyner informed the committee that the Center for Career and Talent Development is measuring career readiness among students and is taking a comprehensive approach to career development, which involves evaluating job offers and work-based learning. She mentioned launching a pilot with Skill Survey to measure career readiness through a selected student population, through on-campus internships, student wage employees and Research Rookies. The survey will help measure career competencies from a student and employer perspective
Lineburg reported on the academic excellence achieved by student-athletes in the spring 2021 semester, which included 71% making the Big South Conference honor roll and 55% earning a position on the Radford University Dean’s List. Forty-four student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, and 13 of 16 teams earned a GPA of 3.0 or better. The overall GPA for student-athletes was 3.28.
Several student-athletes were honored with accolades in the spring of 2021. Softball player Sydney Fisher was named Big South Woman of the Year and a Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Women’s cross-country runner Annsley Eckert was also named a Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Fisher, Eckert and baseball player Anthony Galati each received the Big South Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.
The Radford baseball team received the ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award.
Lineburg said Athletics has partnered with INFLCR and Teamworks to provide student-athletes a platform to assist with the new NCAA name, image and likeness policy. He also informed the committee of two new coaches, Samantha Hurley (lacrosse) and Alisa Taylor (softball).
Lineburg reported that Radford University Athletics ranked third overall in the Big South’s 2020-21 Sasser Cup standings, which measures on a points system the conference’s top athletics programs.
Important dates and initiatives for Athletics, Lineburg said, including the Women’s Leadership Luncheon in February 2022 and the Red & White Scholarship Auction, Highlander Open Golf Tournament and Highlander 5K, all of which are scheduled for the spring of 2022.
The next Radford University Board of Visitors meeting is set for Dec. 2-3, 2021.