Board of Visitors’ April 29 meeting addressed a broad range of business
The quarterly meeting of Radford University’s Board of Visitors on April 29 addressed a wide range of issues and business, but its overarching themes reflected transition, growth and forward momentum.
One item on the agenda – student tuition and fees – was delayed. The university said in March the board would consider an increase of up to 4.5 percent for undergraduates but, citing Virginia's still-pending budget, it opted to postpone that discussion until the state’s financial plan is completed.
Additionally, the school’s 15-member voting panel thanked Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D. for her service as interim president for the past year.
Board member Debra K. McMahon, Ph.D., was elected to the position of board rector, succeeding Robert A. Archer.
Archer, of Salem, is chairman and CEO of Blue Ridge Beverage Company, Inc., and led the board since 2019. In recognition of his service, the board voted to dedicate a meeting room in Martin Hall in his honor. Room 230 is now known as the Robert A. Archer Executive Conference Room.
McMahon, of Charlottesville, is the Principal and former CEO of Scitent, an eLearning business, and joined the board in 2016.
Jay A. Brown, Ph.D., the Deputy County Administrator for Administrative Services of Hanover County, will remain vice rector, having been approved to serve a second term.
Rectors and vice rectors serve single year terms, and typically must step down from the position after serving two, unless special extensions occur, as was the case for Archer.
“It's been an honor and a privilege to serve in this role, especially with such great people, and that means everybody here,” Archer said.
The board also recognized the impending retirement of J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D., Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, after 28 years with the university. Rogers formerly served as Dean of Artis College of Science and Technology.
Michaela Baker, a sociology and political science major from Charlotte, North Carolina, was chosen to serve as this year’s non-voting student representative. Baker last year was a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow and a Highlander Research Rookie in 2021. She succeeds last year’s representative Grace Hurst.
Interim President Lepre, in delivering the final report of her term, focused on the university’s accomplishments from the academic year, such as the Wellness Wednesday workshops that address employee issues, and the expanded services at the Student Counseling Center aimed at meeting students’ mental health needs.
In academic advancements, she cited the launch last fall of the REAL general education curriculum, in which 1,900 students have now participated, including this year’s freshman class.
Twelve of Radford’s graduate programs were recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its 2023 rankings, she said.
Those are the Doctor of Nursing Practice, the Master of Science in Nursing, and the Family Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Administration programs; the Master of Social Work and the part-time Masters of Business Administration; and, in psychology, programs including the clinical mental health counseling, experimental psychology, industrial organizational psychology, school psychology, and counseling.
In a status update on The Highlander hotel, under construction at Tyler Avenue and Calhoun Street, Lepre said the establishment is on track to open later this fall, with projections of more than 30 new jobs, and infusion of approximately $35 million into Radford's economy over the next 50 years.
A separate new project — the eSports (electronic sports) arena space in Cook Hall — will be unveiled on the first of June. That facility will provide a forum for teams and competitions and it will support an upcoming eSports minor, Lepre said.
With respect to fundraising, Lepre said “it has been a great year for overall giving to Radford University. As of the end of March, there are 765 new donors and the total raised has been more than $6 million.”
"The recently donated SunTrust building on the corner of Tyler Avenue and Main Street will bring the university into downtown, further strengthening the partnership with the city," she said.
Lepre gave a nod to last month’s Highlander Day Saturday, which saw nearly 900 attendees and marked one of the largest turnouts in the event’s history.
She also looked ahead to spring commencement: “The class of 2022 stands strong at 1,621… with 1,276 students receiving undergraduate degrees and 345 receiving graduate degrees,” she said, adding this year’s diploma recipients range in age from 19 to 72, and include 437 students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college.
“As I close out my term as interim president, I leave with joy and hope for Radford University's future, and I know great things are ahead,” Lepre told the board.
“Being entrusted with the stewardship of this great institution and the well-being of our Radford family has been both fulfilling and life changing,” she said.
Archer praised Lepre “for continued leadership and guidance on our behalf during this year. Serving in such a capacity is never easy, and I'm convinced that we did not lose any momentum or focus during your tenure. So I thank you, President Lepre, and your team.”
Other business resolved or discussed at the April 29 quarterly meeting:
The rector noted the first joint meeting between the executive committees of the faculty senate and the Board of Visitors was successful. The two groups plan to meet twice a year, to hold discussions prior to Board meetings.
Resolutions of commendation and appreciation were presented in recognition of:
- Katie Hilden, Ph.D., professor of literacy education, former faculty senate president and the board’s faculty advisory member;
- Krisha Chachra, a board member, and chair of the Student Success Committee;
- Nancy Angland Rice, a board member, and vice chair of the Governance, Administration and Athletics Committee;
- Thomas Brewster, Ph.D., a board member, and Assistant Executive Director of the Virginia School Boards Association;
- Susan Whealler Johnston, Ed.D, a board member, and president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The College of Graduate Studies and Research has been renamed The College of Graduate Studies, pending approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
In observance of Virginia Code and a recent state council report on higher education transparency, Radford University’s Board of Visitors will now provide the public with real-time electronic access to regularly scheduled on-campus meetings. It will be accessible through the board’s page on www.radford.edu.
The university has been invited to join Virginia Tech and numerous surrounding localities as part of the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority and Agreement, and the board approved a resolution to participate.
President-elect Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D., will begin his term July 1.
The Radford University Board of Visitors next meeting, set for July 24-26, 2022, will be held as an out-of-town retreat.