President Kyle speaks at RU Diversity Reception

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Michael Roundtree

mroundtree@radford.edu

Hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Diversity and Equity, and the School of Social Work, Radford University held its first diversity reception Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the entrance hall of the Covington Center.
The reception opened with remarks from Dr. Deneen Evan of the School of Social Work, as well as a choral of “I believe I can fly” from sophomore Matthew Bagley. Keynote speakers included President Penelope W. Kyle, Provost Dr. Sam Minner, the Interim Vice Provost James Pennix, and Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Mark Shanley. Speakers included Brooke Chang, Director of Office of Diversity and Equity, Crasha Perkins, Director of Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Angela DeVore-Greene, Director of the Disability Resource Office.
As each speaker recounted stories of how diversity has benefited their personal and professional growth, one could not mistake their shared vision for bringing diversity and inclusiveness to the forefront of our University. “I never want any student to experience what I experienced as an officer in an organization that did not accept difference,” said President Kyle, as she spoke of her experiences of gender discrimination prior to coming to Radford.
The diversity reception allowed speakers to affirm that promoting diversity and inclusion at Radford University and harnessing the innovation that it offers, must be a shared responsibility. “I challenge you to help forward the University’s initiative for a more diverse campus community. This mission cannot be carried out by one person, it takes a village,” said Chang.
Boasting the largest and most diverse incoming class in school history, enrollment of students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds continues to rise. According to statistics provided by Pennix, nearly 16 percent of the student population are students of color. Statistics also suggest that nearly 26 percent of Radford students are first generation students; those students whose parent(s) have not attained a college degree.
Creating a diverse campus community that draws from all segments of society requires a sustained commitment. When I applied for this job, there were two white male candidates and myself as finalists. It was a historic time,” Kyle said. Many challenges remain, she said. Diverse community members must feel welcome: “This cannot be just something we write on paper. As the reception concluded, President Kyle gave a call for action. “We can all come back a year later and give the same speeches with nothing to show for them. We must act now, I challenge you all to act now.”