Highlanders in the News: Week of March 20

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.

At the Western Virginia American Advertising Awards on May 4: (L to R) Assistant Professor John O'Connor; graphic design majors and award winners Valerie Ray, Brittiany Rorrer and Emily Woods; and Associate Professor Kenneth Smith.

Better by design

So, how is junior Brittiany Rorrer’s internship with CMR Institute going so far? Not too shabby. There’s even a tweet for it.

On March 10, CMR – the Roanoke-based biopharmaceutical and medical training company she works with – posted social media congratulations to Rorrer for her recent successes in design.

“Drum rolls, please!” CMR’s tweet reads. “Our graphic designer, Brittiany Rorrer, won the 2023 [Western] Virginia American Advertising Awards! She is a Radford University student and interns with us. She won 3 – a Gold, Judges Choice, and Silver! We are so proud of her!”

CMR also wrote a longer piece on Linkedin. Both posts include a photo of Rorrer accepting one of her awards at the ceremony, held in Roanoke on March 4.

She has been a multimedia design intern for CMR since last May and said the role is ongoing.

Rorrer isn’t the only Highlander who fared well at the Western Virginia American Advertising Awards, either. Senior graphic design majors Valerie Ray and Emily Woods won significant accolades as well.

Sean Kotz has in-depth coverage of all of their prizes, plus a look at some of their designs. 

Brenell Thomas

“Chamber” star

Although she’s currently busy earning her master’s degree in strategic communications, Brenell Thomas is about to see her schedule become even more crowded.

Thomas was recently selected by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce as its president, and she will also serve as the executive director of the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG).

Her appointment, which was recently reported by The Martinsville Bulletin and by BTW21, begins April 3.

“I hope to transfer my passion for workforce development into a positive energy that helps our community,” she said of her new positions.

Thomas, who lives in Martinsville and expects to complete her graduate program later this year, has more than two decades of experience related to career training and professional development. From 2002 through last December, she worked at Patrick & Henry Community College, most recently as the school’s coordinator of training and professional development.

In 2017, she received the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Award, which is given each year to one teaching faculty member who represents teaching excellence.

Robert Warren, D.B.A.

Taxing efforts

Before he became an assistant professor of accounting at Radford University, Robert Warren, D.B.A., spent a quarter of a century as an investigator with the Internal Revenue Service.

Warren’s tenure with the IRS saw him digging into financial crimes that included tax evasion, fraud, identity theft and human trafficking.

In 2020, Warren joined the Davis College of Business and Economics and now teaches various courses in auditing and accounting.

Recently, however, Warren managed to link his past as an agent and analyst with his academic present with the publication of “Exploring Embezzlement by Catholic Priests in the United States: A Content Analysis of Cases Since 1963.”

That report, co-authored with Timothy J. Fogarty, examines some 95 cases of theft committed by priests across 57 years, through 2020.

It was published in the January-June issue of the Journal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting.

Warren’s and Fogarty’s paper analyzes the typical structure of the crimes – the amounts stolen were generally around $500,000 – as well as motivating factors such as “moral licensing,” common contributing elements and details of specific cases, including what some of the ill-gotten funds were put toward.

On March 16, a Catholic media project called The Pillar posted an extensive overview and synopsis of the article.

“While the report identifies a number of unique aspects to fraud by U.S. Catholic clergy, it also underscores that those are essentially sector-specific iterations of the “fraud triangle” of pressure, opportunity, and rationalization found everywhere,” The Pillar concludes.

“In addition to calling for better mechanisms of financial oversight and accountability, the study’s findings highlight the need for ongoing spiritual and personal formation in priests throughout their ministry.”

You can read Warren’s and Fogarty’s full report here.

Mar 24, 2023
Neil Harvey