More than 100 regional business leaders joined Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill and First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill at the Governor Tyler House, the university president’s official residence, on Aug. 14 for a business leaders reception.
Guests, who also included several university administrators, faculty, alumni and benefactors, enjoyed conversation, networking and learning of the university’s progress and discussed opportunities for collaboration among university and business partners.
President Hemphill introduced George Harvey Sr., a 60-year business owner of Harvey Chevrolet, who acknowledged President Hemphill and spoke of the important partnership between Radford University and the city of Radford.
“If Radford University grows and prospers, Radford City grows and prospers,” Harvey explained.
Harvey, a longtime, dedicated supporter of the university, recognized President Hemphill as a “working machine” and champion of Radford University.
“What he wants is what we [Radford University] need,” Harvey continued. “We are fortunate to have him.”
President Hemphill took the opportunity to update guests on several topics related to the university, including enrollment, retention, fundraising, community service and economic development.
Highlights that President Hemphill shared included:
- More than 14,000 students applied to Radford University for enrollment this fall, representing a 96 percent increase over the year before.
- The incoming fall 2017 freshmen class is projected to be more than 1,900, up from 1,700 in fall 2016.
- The 2016-17 fall-to-spring retention rate was 88.5 percent, a 2 percent increase from 2015-16.
- The fall 2016 to fall 2017 retention rate is projected to be approximately 77 percent, representing a 3 percent increase from fall 2015.
- Radford University raised $10.7 million in philanthropic donations during the 2016-17 academic year, compared to $7.9 million the previous year.
- Nancy ’73 and Pat Artis generously donated $5 million to the university this spring to establish the Artis Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide a $3,000 award to 67 Artis Scholars in perpetuity. To date, this is the largest individual gift by an alumnus to Radford University. In appreciation, the university named the Artis College of Science and Technology in their honor.
- Students logged more than 2,500 hours of community service, equivalent to about 14 months of pro-bono work.
- As part of the Radford Gives Back campuswide service project, students collected 14,000 food items for a backpack program to feed local families.
- The 2016 Radford University Economic Impact Study reported that in 2015 Radford University and its alumni contributed $1.056 billion statewide direct and indirect impact to the economy and supported 8,421 jobs. Regional direct and indirect impact was $475.2 million, supporting 4,176 jobs.
“As you can tell, there are a lot of exciting things going on at Radford University,” President Hemphill told reception attendees. “We are very excited about the work ahead and look forward to working with each and every one of you.”
Caitlyn Scaggs ‘07, founder of Blue Mobius Marketing in Blacksburg, said she is impressed with President Hemphill’s leadership and the direction he is taking the university.
“He has a real vision, and he’s acting on it,” said Scaggs, who also serves on the university’s Strategic Planning Task Force Brand Identity sub-group. “He’s making his vision a reality.”
As a new business owner and Radford University alumna, Scaggs realizes the important role the university can play in the local economy. She has already taken advantage of the university’s many helpful resources, including its students.
“My very first intern was a Radford University student,” she said. “He was eager to learn, well-equipped and hungry for the experience.”
This past December, Scaggs was able to hire her first employee – a Radford University graduate.
Larry and Donna Sams of Sams Brothers Inc., a general contracting company, said they believe the communication between the university and the surrounding communities has increased in the last year.
“We would love to see that communication continue to grow,” Larry Sams said.
Their company has hired several successful Radford University interns. They’ve also hosted a class for interior design students at which they taught various skills and allowed students to design and set up an entire wall.
Local business owners Laura and Brad Angell also benefit from the students, faculty and staff who frequent their downtown Radford business, Brad’s Barber Shop.
“They make up about 40 to 50 percent of our business,” Brad Angell estimated.
Angell opened up the barbershop four years ago with his wife, a Radford native.
“We love getting to know the campus community,” Laura Angell said.
They’ve especially enjoyed marketing their barbershop at the university’s Club Fair and watching their first customers – Radford University freshmen – graduate this spring.
“A member of Radford’s ROTC invited me to his commissioning ceremony,” Brad Angell said. “We’ve formed some pretty special relationships with our Radford University customers.”
— Mary Hardbarger