Board of Visitors Approves Two-Year Plan at Quarterly Meetings
Radford University’s Board of Visitors held its final quarterly meetings of 2023 on Thursday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1, inside Kyle Hall on the university’s main campus.
Key among the board’s business actions was the approval of the university’s two-year strategic plan. The plan, which was unveiled to the Radford community during October’s Homecoming festivities by President Bret Danilowicz, seeks to advance four areas of focus: defining the university’s distinctive nature, driving regional economic development, stabilizing enrollment and repositioning the university’s resources.
“This is to assure that we are making progress on the main priorities of the institution,” Danilowicz said. “I’m delighted by how this has come together between the Board of Visitors and the university. We will be stronger and nimbler as a result of this plan.”
Danilowicz also recapped a fall semester of change across the university, which included the unveiling of new branding and visual marks, the announcement of Direct Admission and the Radford Tuition Promise, the opening of The HUB at Radford, and the launch of the Provisional to Professional Pathway for provisionally licensed teachers.
“It really has been an opportunity for the public to take a fresh look at the university and see what it offers to the community and to students,” Danilowicz said.
In particular, Danilowicz pointed to the perception shift driven by the Radford Tuition Promise, which guarantees coverage of tuition costs for in-state, in-person undergraduate students whose families earn an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less.
“That is a nationally leading statement from a public university about affordability,” he said.
Danilowicz reiterated that financial aid packages and scholarships are available to students of all economic backgrounds, including merit-based scholarships like the Highlander Distinction Scholarship. Thursday’s Business Affairs and Audit Committee included discussions to support the Radford Tuition Promise in the long term.
The president also stated plans for the renaming of Radford University Carilion in Roanoke. Danilowicz told the board that a name change will better integrate the location into the university’s ecosystem and better align admissions, recruiting and marketing initiatives. No timeline was suggested for the change.
Friday’s business included the ratification of Vice President for University Advancement Penny Helms White ’85, MBA ’87. White was elevated from an interim vice president role in September. She has served the university for 27 years and is leading the largest fundraising effort in university history, Together - The Campaign for Radford University.
Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee actions included the acknowledgement of awarding emeritus status to Professor Walter Jaronski of the Department of Physics. The board also voted on a resolution to merge the Department of English and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures into the School of Writing, Language and Literature.
Committee meetings on Thursday were highlighted by a presentation during the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee that focused on the recent Wicked Festival, held Nov. 9 at Kyle Hall. The Wicked Festival, along with the Wicked Problems minor in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, seeks to give undergraduate students the tools and resources needed for them to become experts and problem-solvers for complex, persistent and “wicked” public issues.
Wicked Festival gold medalists for outstanding presentation Caroline Sapp and Becca Holcomb spoke to the committee about their process for developing their award-winning examination, “The U.S. and the Fentanyl Crisis,” which produced recommendations for federal leaders on how to handle the problem.
Heather Keith, professor of philosophy and executive director of faculty development, told board members that the big-picture purpose of the Wicked Festival and related curricula is to advance open discourse and freedom of expression.
“Wicked problems are complex, but they are often controversial,” Keith said following the meeting. “I think (students) become more adept at communicating their own ideas, but also develop deep listening skills to understand where other folks are coming from. In terms of campus freedom of expression, we have both a right and a responsibility to talk about things that are important, even if they’re controversial. And we should be models for the rest of the country.”
Thursday’s Student Affairs and Athletics Committee meeting included a guest presentation from Craig Littlepage, former director of athletics at the University of Virginia and a current consultant at Collegiate Sports Associates, an executive search and consulting firm. Littlepage spoke about the changing landscape of NCAA Division I athletics, ranging from conference realignment to the significance of media rights money in football and men’s basketball to the impacts felt by Division I athletic programs as a result of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) initiatives.
“There are things happening around the collegiate athletics world that are concerning to all of us,” Littlepage said. “And when you think about what is good about college athletics, all you have to do is listen to these experiences that these young people (at Radford) are having. Particularly with the basketball teams and the success that the women’s soccer team is having. There is nothing more influential in one’s life trajectory than being a part of a team. And the experiences that these young people are having at Radford University, and programs all over the country, I think are magnificent.”
Littlepage and Collegiate Sports Associates are consulting with Radford Athletics on its forthcoming strategic plan. Littlepage’s son, Murray, is a 2011 Radford University graduate and an assistant athletic director at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The next scheduled meeting for the board is March 21-22, 2024.