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The State of the University Inaugural Address


University President Brian O. Hemphill’s first inaugural State of the University address, Oct. 6, reflections on a successful 2016-17 year and the significant progress of the University thus far.

With a keen focus on teaching, research, and service, Hemphill is going as far to discuss groundbreaking initiatives and goals toward fulfilling the bigger picture dream of transforming Radford University into an innovative, premier university in the Commonwealth of Virginia which it will likely be considering some of the innovations he presents

With nearly 1,000 students, staff, and press attending the event in Preston Hall’s Bondurant Auditorium Hemphill acknowledged the shared governance leaders and leadership council members in attendance, as well as the university’s Board of Visitors (BOV).

“Without question, the State of the University is strong, and our recent progress and resounding success would not be possible without the unwavering support and continued dedication of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” Hemphill said.

Hemphill announced the naming of the Mary Ann Jennings Hovis Memorial Board Room, the dedicated meeting space for deliberations of the BOV. In honor of the life and accomplishments of Mary Ann Jennings Hovis ’65 who, at the time of her death in August, was a member of the BOV.

Mary Ann Jennings Hovis’s “selfless contributions to her alma mater and her unwavering Highlander pride,” is what Hemphill said as the dedication goes out to her and on behalf of Hovis, her husband, Bob, attended the address and received a warm ovation from the audience.

Hemphill then gave a moment of silence for students, faculty, and staff who have recently passed away, referring to the recent death of Jacob B. Terry, a 19-year-old Radford freshman and the many tragic incidents happening on and off campus.

Spring of last year Nancy ’73 and Pat Artis gifted the university the largest contribution by an individual and an alumnus in Radford’s history of being a 107-year-old school. The Artis College of Science and Technology was dedicated, and the Artis Endowed Scholarship Fund will award 67 high-achieving students scholarships for $3,000 based on academic eligibility.

Hemphill then went on to announce that the total giving to the university increased from $7.9 million in the fiscal year of 2016 to $10.9 million in the fiscal year of 2017. That is a 20 percent increase between those two years. The total number of donors increased from 4,435 to 5,253, nearly 20 percent. This year’s fundraising target is $14 million which is probably very feasible concerning the numbers. To continue building new and needed academic programs, a Doctor of Education and Bachelor of Science in Computer and CyberScience are awaiting review and approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

The president introduced several initiatives and programs contained within the plan, including:

The creation of the Student Venture Lab, a mechanism for students to convert ideas into reality with access to faculty mentoring and a space dedicated to around-the-clock brainstorming, as well as the availability of funds for product development and commercialization.
The launch of the Appalachian Outreach Institute to further expand Radford University’s service mission and outreach activities in Southwest Virginia.
The establishment of the Center for Highlander Engagement and a Highlander Advisory Board to train and guide students, faculty, and staff regarding the Highlander identity and values of being responsive, resilient and real.
Hemphill’s predictions for the year 2023 as it relates to the university’s enrollment and the Enrollment Data Council, is that the student body to more than 13,000 of the current 9,401. That would be a 38 percent increase in enrolled students. While also showing improvements in the ACT and SAT scores the class of 2021 has an entering high school grade average of 3.24, the highest level since 1996. In fact, Radford University only started tracking these scores in 1996. Furthermore, activities and practices that focus on increasing retention and graduation rates are being looked at more carefully throughout these next years to give the students better accommodations and areas schools, and Radford as a whole can work on.

While the graduation rate for a six-year student is 58.3 percent and the retention rate for a first to the second-year student is 75.7 Hemphill plans on boosting these numbers by 2023. Right now, there shooting for first to second-year retention rate to 85 percent and its six-year graduation rate to 62 percent.

Hemphill also shows us an increase of 18 percent over the past decade of diversity on campus. The current minority student population is 28.8 percent of the university’s total student body. “Radford University greatly values the culture and perspectives of all individuals,” Hemphill explained. “We truly believe it enriches the environment in which we live, learn and work.” As a full statement from Radford University Relations, “To enhance these research opportunities, Hemphill announced the launch of a new initiative called the Highlander Research Rookies Program.

Beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, 15 apprenticeships will be awarded each year to high-achieving and highly-motivated freshman and sophomore students who will be paired with faculty members to conduct research. Funding of up to $4,000 will be provided to each awardee. Exposing students, faculty, and staff to new viewpoints is key to enriching the lives of Highlanders, Hemphill said. Therefore, the university has hosted a multitude of world-renowned guests and speakers.

Also, the university has been a proud sponsor of the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence, a prestigious award and recognition program for outstanding teachers held on Radford’s campus for nearly two decades. Hemphill acknowledged the McGlothlin family, including Tom McGlothlin and his wife, who were in attendance.”

Lastly, Hemphill wants to invest $150,000 annually in welcoming new speakers to help shape, define, and teach us new ways of doing things from speakers around the world. While also, expanding its partnerships overseas with international education leaders, such as Monash University in Australia and the Shandong Youth University of Political Science in China.

In closing, Hemphill shows us that Radford’s next years are going to better than ever. “Radford University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, our nation and the world are counting on every one of us now and well into the future,” Hemphill said. “Together, we will succeed. Together, we will make a difference. Together, we build a brighter future.” Following the address, Hemphill received a standing ovation, and members of the Radford family reflected on the exciting endeavors and initiatives he introduced.

“It was a dynamic message with a great vision for the university. It makes me happy to be a faculty member here,” said School of Teacher Education and Leadership Professor Jennifer Jones Powell. “We are in exciting times where we have a leader who understands our students and our faculty and is working collaboratively with everybody involved to build great things for Radford.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Parliamentarian Conner Philson said, “The president’s focus on undergraduate research through offices, such as The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, and programs, such as IMPACT, is the sure-fire way to ensure Radford University stays among the top universities in the Commonwealth and the nation,” Conner Philson, a Parliamentarian on Student Government Association (SGA) said. “His support and recognition of successful programs and students give us all the motivation to keep the state of the university strong.”

Johnny’s father ends up in prison, Mike’s girlfriend finds out he’s a fraud, Ash finds her boyfriend cheating on her, Meena hates her fear, and Rosita is not respected at home. All the characters come together knowing that they can face their past and make their future brighter, which is a significant point the film is trying to get across. Making your dreams a reality can change your life. Towards the end of the film, things come crashing down for our characters but they rebuild themselves brick by brick in a tear-jerking way.

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