Highlanders in the News: Week of May 8, 2023

Every other 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.

Andrew Mann '23

Commencement comments

Across May 5 and 6, 2023, approximately 1,200 newly upgraded Highlanders received diplomas, and the 110th Spring Commencement ceremonies have now been consigned to the books.

The Roanoke Times offered coverage of the festivities, with a focus on the keynote speaker, Tesla executive Laurie Shelby ’83, who advised the graduates: “Never lose sight of your passion, because it is where you will move.”

“It’s great to be back and see that Radford has grown,” Shelby said in her speech.

The newspaper also profiled Andrew Mann, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise, Sport and Health Education.

“I love Radford,” he told the paper. “I think of it as my city. I feel like I know everyone here.”

Mann also talked about such topics as the experience of seeing the COVID-19 pandemic interrupt his first year at college, his academic plans and his thoughts on the support he enjoyed as a Radford native. 


Want to meet a few more members of the Class of 2023?

We profiled graduating students from each of Radford’s colleges, including:

Michaela Baker, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences;

Rory Croke, School of Nursing;

Meagan Cox, College of Visual and Performing Arts;

Justine McLaughlin, Artis College of Science and Technology;

Colton Morris, Davis College of Business and Economics;

Xavier Prescott, College of Education and Human Development;

Rachel Warren, Waldron College of Health and Human Services.

Radford University’s coverage of the 2023 graduation ceremonies can be found here.

Adam Harris '05 (Photo: Pollstar)

A career on the “Stage”

A familiar figure pops up in a recent Pollstar story about the 40th anniversary of Mountain Stage, the popular musical performance show that airs each week on National Public Radio via nearly 300 stations across the country.

It’s Adam Harris ’05, the program’s executive producer since 2011.

Harris started out as a fan of the broadcast, according to the story, and first attended a live recording of it in 1999 while still a teenager. Soon after, he headed to Radford and earned a degree in music business, with a minor in media studies, then scored an internship with Mountain Stage within a few months of his graduation. He’s been there ever since.  

“I always thought I had to leave West Virginia to be in the music business, but it turns out I’m not leaving unless I have to,” Harris, a native of that state’s Greenbrier County, told Pollstar.

That’s not to say he’s homebound. The show, which recently aired its 1,000th episode, travels to distant locations several times a year, a factor that brought Harris back to his alma mater a few years back when Mountain Stage recorded an April 2018 broadcast out of Preston Hall. At that time, Harris talked about his experience at Radford and how it had influenced him in his career. 

Honors College Director Niels Christensen at the medallion ceremony on May 5.

College “Matters”

“Alma Matters,” an academic newsletter that helps high schoolers learn more about collegiate experiences, recently looked at a half dozen of the country’s Honors Colleges, and Radford University was among them.

In the piece, the director of Radford’s Honors College, Professor of Psychology Niels Christensen, discusses the school’s honors scholars and how they fit into the university’s student body. While they number just over 300, he said that with a population of that size, he’s able to know nearly all of them by face and by name.

“You get a sense of ‘These are the people who know me, they recognize me,’ and you can have that sense of community,” Christensen said.

His comments came from his appearance last December on the “Alma Matters” podcast, during which Christensen talked extensively about Radford.

The show pulls a series of “Hi-Five” topics from each of its conversations, and the subjects from his talk include Radford’s honors college characteristics, notable programs, cool courses, students’ profiles and career opportunities.

Christensen’s episode lasts just under a half hour, but for those who just want the bullet points, there’s also an option to play the Hi-Fives excerpts exclusively.

Jon Murrill, M.F.A. ’12, along with teachers and students from William Byrd High School, recently painted a mural across one wall of Vinton's Veterinary Specialty Services Center on East Washington Avenue. (Photo: Debbie Adams/The Vinton Messenger)

More Murrill murals

Last year we told you about several bridge painting projects by Jon Murrill, M.F.A. ’12, along the greenway in Roanoke, Virginia.

Now that all of those colors have dried, the busy local artist has headed east, into nearby Vinton, to undertake his latest project.

Murrill, along with teachers and students from his earlier alma mater, William Byrd High School, recently painted a paw-print mural across one wall of the Vinton Veterinary Specialty Services Center on East Washington Avenue, according to an April 27 story in the Vinton Messenger

The article covers the process behind the work, how they got permissions from the planning department, and even names some of the paints used (including Solar Smash and Marsh Magnolia).

The Vinton Messenger story also talks about Murrill’s background as a painter, his current position as an art teacher at Patrick Henry High School and his next project, which reportedly will commence this summer at River’s Edge Park in Roanoke. 

May 12, 2023
Neil Harvey