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Wm. Christian Stephens
If, today, I were granted one inaugural wish for you and me, I would be tempted to wish that it could always be Homecoming in 1995 at Radford, and that we could be here together. Yet, this University is not a static entity, but a robust, dynamic enterprise. Its change is not only inevitable, but desirable as well; for without change, there can be no progress. So let us not merely expect it and accept it as a consequence, let us also create it and manage it… Manage it in ways that move the university in positive directions,” Dr. Covington September 29, 1995, as quoted by The Beehive
On June 27, 2012 beloved Dr. H. Douglas Covington Ph.D., former Radford University President passed on to be with his wife Beatrice Covington who died in 2005.
Dr. Covington earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; his Master of Arts degree and Doctor of Philosophy degree from The Ohio State University.
Before serving the Radford University community from 1995 to 2005, Dr. Covington held educational leadership roles at many institutions. At Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina he was Chancellor from 1977 until 1984.
After leaving WSSU in 1984 he went on to become President of Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama for 3 years. At AAMU Dr. Covington was highly acknowledged for broadening the curriculum and increasing the public sector for financial support.
He was also President at Cheyney University, one of the historically oldest black colleges in the country. Dr. Covington’s term at CU lasted from 1992 until 1995. The challenges he faced at the CU prepared him for the many assignments at RU.
Dr. Covington’s visions during each of his incumbencies were sought to be the same; uplift the community and challenge theminds of his students.
Prior to Dr. Covington’s appointment, Radford University had a bit of predicament reputation in the public eye. “He came to Radford at the right time,” explained Jay Poole, a member of the Board of Visitors from 1996 to 2004, about the strategy Dr. Covington had for RU helped excel the university.
Bonnie Hurlburt, the Dean of Students during Dr. Covington’s tenure spoke on the relationship Dr. Covington had with his students, “he took a genuine interest in the students […] that was something that was not as good as it should have been prior to his arrival.” Although Dr. Covington was popular among the student body, there was a moment during his presidency when the board was uncertain with him. Hulbert remembers the uproar that came from SGA and many students when rumors began to spread. “There was no question in their [SGA] mind, he was a keeper.” Hurlburt noted that Dr. Covington was always grateful to the student body for the support they had given him during that period of time.
Shorty after retiring from RU, Dr. Covington felt as though his educational duty was not over. With encouragement from close friend and former colleague Nancy Wilson, Dr. Covington was appointed Interim President of Emory & Henry College in Abingdon, Virginia from 2005 to 2006.
According to roanoketime.com, in his interview for president, Dr. Covington stated exactly how he wanted to impact Radford, “I would like to be remembered as one who cared deeply about his students, and did his best everyday to see that they received a first-class education” Although the phrase “Investing in Lifetimes” cannot be traced back to its author, Dr. Covington utilized the motto into becoming one of the university’s pillars. In the 2001 edition of The Beehive, Dr. Covington reminds students that the motto is a theme to which captures the institutions heritage and commitment to the fulfillment of its mission.
Dr. Covington is survived by his two sons Anthony and Jeffery Covington; two grandchildren, Christopher Slade Covington and Olivia Marie Covington. His legacy will live on through the Douglas and Beatrice Covington Center for the Visual and Performing Arts Center.