Commencement Speaker

Alumnus Randal J. “R.J.” Kirk
Alumnus Randal J. “R.J.” Kirk

Alumnus Randal J. “R.J.” Kirk, J.D. will serve as the keynote speaker for the Spring Commencement ceremony to be held on Saturday, May 11, 2019 beginning at 11 a.m. on Moffett Lawn. Approximately 1,500 students are expected to graduate. 

“Celebrating the achievements of the graduates and of the University is an honor, and I look forward to seeing many friends, old and new,” said Mr. Kirk. “As I once stood where the new graduates will be and have a family and Virginia roots similar to many of theirs, I hope that my perspective will prove valuable.”

"The Radford family is honored to welcome home an outstanding alumnus, a prominent businessman and a truly innovative leader," said President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. "Throughout R.J.’s professional career, he has made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many as his businesses and discoveries have, and continue to, significantly change the world. I am confident that his message to Radford University’s Class of 2019 will set the course for their professional careers and their service to the communities in which they will call home." 

Mr. Kirk, originally an attorney by training, entered the biomedical field in 1983 co-founding Bastian, Virginia’s General Injectables and Vaccines. General Injectables ensured vaccines and therapeutic drugs were accessible at the point-of-care as pre-loaded injectables, helping to pioneer an intervention that is now a healthcare standard.

Mr. Kirk is one of biotech’s foremost individual investors, inventors and executives, bringing a number of successful drugs to market, including those during his decade-plus leadership of New River Pharmaceuticals. After New River was sold to Shire, Mr. Kirk went on to serve as chairman of Clinical Data, an early innovator in pharmacogenomics, which utilized the power of “big data” in therapeutic design. In 2009, Mr. Kirk became the CEO of Intrexon Corporation and has since devoted himself and the company to advancing genetic and biological engineering to benefit the health and well-being of humans, animals and the environment. 

Mr. Kirk served as a member of Radford University’s Board of Visitors from 2003 to 2009, was rector of the Board of Visitors from 2006 to 2008 and was a member of the Radford University Foundation, Inc.’s Board of Directors from 1998 to 2011. He was on the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors from 2009 to 2012, the Virginia Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates from 2006 to 2012 and the Governor’s Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission from 2010 to 2012. Mr. Kirk is currently a board member of Blacksburg, Virginia’s Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, or VCOM. Mr. Kirk received Radford University’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2005 and was named Virginia’s Outstanding Industrialist for the Year in 2008. 

Mr. Kirk received a B.A. in Business from Radford University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.