Old and new friends connect on campus for Homecoming 2023
Mary Campbell ’71 wiped a joyful tear from her right eye as she waited to join scores of friends for lunch.
“I just cannot tell you what a good day it is for me,” Campbell said, speaking about her alma mater. “There are just so many great things happening on this campus. Radford has so much to offer students. It truly is a gem in the mountains.”
About an hour later, Campbell was on the stage, listening as those same friends cheered for her. Throughout the years, Campbell has served Radford University in numerous capacities, including a stint on its Board of Visitors. Today, for her time and dedication, she was being honored with the Outstanding Service Award, given by the university’s Alumni Association during its volunteer leadership business lunch and awards at Homecoming 2023.
Three more honors were bestowed at the luncheon. Brian Robinson ’93, a partner at Goldman Sachs, was named Outstanding Alumnus. Faye Marcum ’71 received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award, and entrepreneur Chance Smith ’12, co-founder of the music-booking app GoghNow, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.
“I haven’t been to homecoming since I graduated in ’93,” said Robinson, who was planning to catch up with fraternity brothers later. “I just couldn’t miss this one.”
As the luncheon wrapped up, and just before the group in the large Kyle Hall room posed for a selfie, Alumni Association Board President Kevin Rogers ’87 addressed the winners and the gathering of alumni. “It is amazing what every one of you has achieved,” Rogers said. “I’m truly humbled by the accomplishments of our alumni.”
A few more honors were handed out over homecoming, which ran Oct. 19-21. On Friday, five new members -- Eddie Butler, Mickey Dean, Martin Sayer '09, MBA '10 (posthumously), Kristen Shifflet '11 and Anthony Walker '98 – were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame.
The following day, the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences honored ESPN reporter Marty Smith ’98 with its Distinguished Alumnus Award and recognized Drew Robinson ’01 and Nicole Robinson ’02 for their generous scholarship support. Nancy Love ’75, M.S. ’76, received the College of Education and Human Development’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Those events were just a few among the countless others held for this year’s homecoming. It began on Thursday, Oct. 16, with arts events and the annual Golden Reunion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1973. Several other groups reunited, including the Black Alumni Networking Group, as well as athletics teams such as baseball, women’s lacrosse and the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Alumni and the Radford University community were treated to a first peek at the university’s new look as President Bret Danilowicz and others unveiled Radford’s new branding.
Former Student Government Association presidents Colby Bender ’16 and Zach McCoy ’14 journeyed back to campus because they, as they both noted, have an invested interest in the university’s success.
“I’ve been away for so long, going to law school,” Bender said,” and I just wanted to come back, and I want to start coming back to campus on a regular basis.”
Bender and McCoy had not set an agenda for the weekend. “We just like to come down and wing it,” McCoy said with a smile.
Homecoming week also allowed alumni and friends to explore their alma mater’s ever-growing campus and the unique experiences Radford offers.
There were opportunities to virtually fly through space and experience the full-dome show of “Beyond the Sun” at the Radford University Planetarium. Alumna and astrophysicist Jordan Eagle ’16 was back on campus Friday to reconnect with friends and faculty and to be a guest lecturer. Eagle, who is a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, spoke about her thesis exploring pulsar wind nebula.
“It’s great to be back and see people and all the beauty of campus,” she said, preparing for her talk. “Walking around reminds me of why I came to Radford in the first place.”
Alumni, family and friends had the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of plants in the greenhouse and dig into our planet’s many natural wonders in the Museum for the Earth Sciences. The Esports Center opened its doors, too, allowing visitors to step into one of the most eye-catching and innovative spaces on campus. Homecoming revelers had the opportunity to explore the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and tour the Nursing Clinical Simulation Center.
The Voltage Brothers band, a favorite among alumni, performed Saturday at the Alumni Village, where many festivities, including an alumni rugby match, grooved along. The Radford men’s basketball team held an open practice late Saturday afternoon to give the Highlander community a glimpse of what they will see on the Dedmon Center court this upcoming season.
“I get excited to come back to campus to see everyone here,” said Denny Van Pelt ’94. “I don’t get to see them often enough, and the people of Radford are what really makes it great.”
Campbell evoked those same thoughts in her Outstanding Service Award acceptance speech.
“Radford gave me an education with a sound footing. It helped me set goals for myself that encouraged me throughout life to be the best that I could be,” she said. “So, I just want to say thank you to Radford University for everything that it has meant to me through the years, especially the last 14 years. I just can’t do enough for this wonderful institution.”