Highlanders in the News: Week of August 22
Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.
Curtis’ ‘incredible legacy’ memorialized
When Charlene Curtis’ death was announced on Aug. 18, word of the Highlander basketball legend’s passing set off a ripple effect across numerous newspapers and TV stations.
Curtis, who died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at age 67, was Radford University’s first Black athlete, playing women’s basketball from 1972 to 1976; then, in 1984, she signed on to lead that team and thus became the school’s first Black head coach.
A member of Radford University’s Board of Visitors, Curtis led a life that spawned an extensive string of accomplishments.
Roanoke Times sportswriter Mark Berman tackled Curtis’ life and legacy in a 1,700-word news obituary and a short video. One of the subjects he interviewed was former Radford University women’s basketball player Stephanie Howard ’89, the first RU athlete, male or female, to see their number retired.
“She cared about you as not just a player but as a person,” Howard recalled of Curtis. “The bond that we had after basketball was second to none. She was really, truly like a second mother to me — and that actually began as a player at Radford. She took me under her wing and guided me in life.”
WFXR news’ Jermaine Ferrell also profiled Curtis, with quotes from Radford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Mike McGuire and Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg.
“Charlene loved Radford University and remained involved throughout her life by devoting her time, service, and money to helping so many young people,” Lineburg told the Roanoke news station. “Today is a difficult day for the Highlander family, but we know her incredible legacy will live on.”
Curtis also served as a head coach at Wake Forest before ultimately working in the ACC league office as a supervisor of women’s basketball. After more than a decade in that position, she retired in 2019.
Other outlets that recognized Curtis’ passing included The Associated Press, Roanoke’s WDBJ7, Andscape, the Pulaski County Patriot, the Winston-Salem Journal and Black Enterprise.
Leaving the nest
The classes of new freshmen heading to college for the first time this fall consist largely of the same students who saw their high school careers bisected by the pandemic and by remote learning or alternative methods of study and test-taking, among other obstacles.
An Aug. 21 story in The Roanoke Times looks at how Virginia Tech, Hollins University and Radford University are reconfiguring their undergraduate affairs to meet the needs of students and to improve their chances for academic success.
The newspaper spoke with Radford’s Brian Kitts, an instructor of educational leadership, who said he finds young people “resilient.” He expressed optimism that, having navigated a pandemic, they’re now better able to locate resources on their own and identify their academic needs.
“I’m encouraged by their independence,” Kitts said, later adding that such self-sufficiency helps the student body become stronger as a whole.
“You can already feel the sense of community building, and you can already feel like the kids are going to be there for each other,” he said.
That story includes seven images from Radford University’s move-in day, an event also covered by WDBJ7 on Aug. 19. The station spoke to Chaz Nakins, an incoming freshman from Danville, Virginia, who said he was excited to sample life outside of his hometown.
Radford University's coverage of move-in day and the New Student Convocation is online here.