Fall 2017 Radford University Presidential Open Forum


By: Dylan Lepore | dlepore1@radford.edu

The first open Presidential Forums for students was held in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium Wednesday, September 5. It was formed by President Brian O. Hemphill and his cabinet to “give the opportunity to connect with our students and get a feel of what’s going on as it relates to the students perspective,” as said by Dr. Hemphill.

President Hemphill starts started by looking at the highlights and milestones of the 2016 – 2017 academic year. The year began with the Budget Planning Summit where 120 Students, faculty, and staff came together to discuss the university’s budget.

He mentioned that during the Budget Planning Summit, they obtained 17 recommendations that drove the development of the school’s budget with Radford’s new six-year plan. Those recommendations cover topics such as Innovation, Programmatic Strategies, Efficiencies, Revenue Generation and Economic Development.

Dr. Hemphill mentioned that he had the opportunity to be in a meeting with Teresa A. Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia. He had a chance to hear her thoughts on the University Policies in a reaction against what happened in Charlottesville. The Virginia Attorney General’s office is coming up with state wide laws of the utilization of colleges moving forward “because no one wants a repeat,” Hemphill mentioned.

Dr. Hemphill then previewed some programs and events of this year. Radford University will start by hosting Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, to announce an “accelerated academic program with a new delivery platform that will allow us to tap into a population of students that we just don’t have access to now.” The IMPACT (Innovative Mobile Personalized Accelerated Competency Training) program that Radford held Friday, September 8, 2017, is the first and only one of its kind among four-year public institutions in Virginia.

More on supporting student’s needs, Dr. Hemphill spoke on how Radford University has partnered with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) for a guarantee of all transfer credits. Usually, around 13 credits would be missing due to some courses not being able to transfer credits, which would end up being about a semester of work gone. However, to do this, the student must enroll in this agreement program and follow its course for an automatic transfer of all credits, provided good academic standing in the course.
In addition, Radford has also partnered with George Mason University for a law degree program that will provide a whole year of savings for students. There can be only two to three chosen students for these spots. Students would have to compete against other Radford students for the first three years of their degree and do well on the LSAT to become a possible candidate.

Hemphill also previewed The State of the University Address which will be presented by himself on Friday, October 6, 2017. Much of what Hemphill will talk about during the speech will have many implications on the Radford students and the surrounding community. It is encouraged that the students attend.

Wendy Lowery, Vice president for University Advancement, comes came up to talk to the students one on one about what capital campaign means. Lowery asked the question, “what would you do with five million dollars” for Radford University?

What the type of investments Lowery is looking for the school is academic excellence, student success and engagement, capital infrastructure and improvements, and experiential learning and innovation. “This campaign will touch every aspect of the university’s campus it cannot be status quo, it must be edgy,” Lowery says. To help with these investments, she wants you to “be the best version you can be all Radford all in you must sell the story.”

Student Jesse Harden, a 2013 transfer student, began the discussion with “how we can improve the types of programs and initiatives we use to get students to start thinking early? What are you going to do after college and how does that motivate you to do your best while you’re here at Radford?”

Lowery replied with, “career services is a highly important element of the college experience, and the office just moved over into Russell Hall. It’s paired with our alumni office and admissions office which is brilliant because all three of those units can work closely together and it’s vital. So, we’re on track on what the role of career services plays for our students.”

Conner Philson, then immediately rose to make a statement on undergraduate research. “I think one of the things that always gets overlooked is undergraduate research. I came here from high school; I didn’t do crap in high school, I was given the opportunity to come here. I took advantage of that. So, I take 18 credits every semester. I do all the extracurriculars that I can, and research is where I put must of my time into. We get funding, and there’s stuff like the SOAR office, and there are awards for the students to do their research. I feel like we could continue to push research as one of the main things that Radford stands for. Cause that’s not something you can do anywhere else in the Commonwealth as an undergraduate to the extent that all of us get to do here. I feel that this is the most important thing and I feel that’s over looked a few times.”

Tori Montanez, Vice President of Spectrum: A LGBTQIA Organization wants space and staff support for the LGBT community at Radford “for people that are real adults.”

Lowery response back to Montanez with “that’s probably a much easier fix than what you think.”

Ian Evans, a third-year Doctoral student in Psychology, goes back on to what Philson said about the research part of things. Stating that, “one of the things that drew me to Radford was part of the travel funding for taking more research elsewhere to conferences. As far as I’m aware that budget was recently halved for this academic year which we still get funding; which is more than most universities can give out having that support to build our brand and having that financial burden taken away from that helps build our Radford brand.”

Adding on to that, Philson said,” with the budget being cut in half, there are a few students of mine in the Ecophysiology lab, and they are having trouble finding funding to go with the amount of money. We get free hotels at the conferences,” but they have to pay for the flights, food, and other living services. It appears that is not financially feasible for students to participate in these big events that could give them the experiences they need for the future.

“I think there could be absolutely a priority with in the campaign that focuses on facility development because that was also an issue as I mentioned in the previous forum. It’s something that supports our students also. I think there’s a strong donor base for people that want to support the ability for our students to have access to dollars that would help them travel, travel abroad, share their research, and to present. The opportunities are endless,” says Lowery.

Elizabeth Cottrell, a Counseling Psychology student, is concerned about the doctoral program because they have lower applicants this year than before. Thinking that it could be “traced back to not having the funding support for out of state students coming in. That was one of the big draws for me coming from North Carolina and even with this great new CHBS building, but it felt like a lake of support from the institute itself as a whole.”

Lowery confirms that all the right people are hearing her. Also, that it is an important thing that they need improvement on for all the programs at Radford.

Lastly, Maeghan Leroy, Vice President of the Music Business Student Association, includes that “If I had five million dollars, I’d give a little bit towards the music department too. We’re the only public school in Virginia to have a music theory program, one of the few in the country that has an excellent music business program, and we just announced our five-year music master’s program, but we don’t have enough practice rooms. You can’t make great musicians if you don’t have anywhere to practice also more space for instruments.”

President Hemphill ended the open Presidential Forums with two last remarks. First, stating that the college on campus with the largest endowment is the College of Visual and Performing Arts. They realize this and want to spread out funding across all the other colleges. Going back on what Lowery said about touching every aspect of the Radford University and its campus.

Secondly, Hemphill wanted to mention that it is important to take care of one another especially the freshman as it can be hard adjusting to the new ways of living for the next four years. Radford is one big family and finding the niche in that will make the next three years a breeze; depending on your classes.