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Monday, July 8, 2013
As president of the Radford University Faculty Senate and as a faculty member at our beloved institution, I deeply regret that our recently mailed diplomas contained unfortunate misspellings that caused embarrassment to our campus community. I am particularly sympathetic to RU graduates — recent and past — who take great pride in their university and feel the sting of jokes and criticisms aimed at their school as though directed at an old friend.
Universities are like large families; we celebrate our successes and suffer our failings together. On this occasion we have suffered.
On July 2, The Roanoke Times printed a column by Dan Casey, “Radford U. creates new graduate program,” that showed significant discourtesy to our institution and students. Although satire can be quite humorous when done carefully, Casey’s approach in this instance instead bordered on inappropriateness in ways that no longer poke fun at, but instead can do damage to, an institution. However, while disappointed by its publication, we all recognize the tendency of media not only to cover, but at times to dwell upon, bad news rather than celebrate the good news that surrounds us on a daily basis. The diploma errors are merely human, and cannot and do not define this great university.
Radford University provides outstanding and transformative educational opportunities for our students, for example, through co-curricular offerings of the Scholar-Citizen Initiative and through numerous study abroad programs all over the world, including in Malawi, Costa Rica, China and the Galapagos Islands. We emphasize high levels of student-faculty engagement and provide top-quality undergraduate research opportunities to students, and we have a vibrant, strong and high-impact teaching and learning community.
As a faculty member, every day I have an opportunity to witness the outstanding activities and accomplishments of our Radford University students and university community. For example, in just the past several weeks, Radford University hosted 800 exceptional Virginia Boys State delegates, nearly 400 of Virginia’s most talented high school students for the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s Schools in the Humanities and the Visual and Performing Arts, and 84 elementary schoolchildren for the College of Science and Technology’s Camp Invention. We are currently hosting 80 high school females for our Summer Bridge program in science, technology and mathematics.
Further, a National Council of Teacher Quality study that was just published examined 1,130 institutions that prepare 99 percent of traditionally trained new teachers in the U.S., ranking Radford University as one of only 13 programs in the nation with “multiple strong programs.”
Additionally, a team of eight undergraduate students received a national grant award through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency competition for its project proposal and presentation demonstrating an innovative approach to water purification. A graphic design faculty member’s artwork earned national recognition through his third George Gray award by the U.S. Coast Guard Art Program, and our Women’s Studies Director was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Grant to work in Croatia for 2013-14.
These activities and accomplishments are among many, many others in recent weeks alone at Radford University that make me truly proud to be a member of our campus community.
As president of the Radford University Faculty Senate, I am cognizant of and routinely and diligently work with my colleagues and collaboratively with students and members of the administration to address the challenges we face as an institution. But most importantly at this time, I stand in support of our institution and embrace the opportunity to help communicate the numerous activities and accomplishments of our university community to the broader public.
I look forward to reading more frequently about our institution’s many exciting accomplishments in The Roanoke Times in the months and years to come.
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