A ceremony was held on June 15 in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Science (CHBS) Building on the Radford University 15 to formally dedicate the building as Hemphill Hall, in honor of outgoing school President Brian Hemphill.
Since it opened in 2016, “The College of Humanities and Behavioral Science Building has suffered from one thing, a proper name,” Dean Matthew J. Smith, said at the ceremony, according to a university news release. “Today, Radford University completes this structure by christening it in honor of the University’s seventh president, Dr. Brian O. Hemphill.”
Hemphill announced in February that he is leaving Radford, effective next week, after five years of leading the University, to become president at Old Dominion University.
In April, the Radford University Board of Visitors unanimously approved a resolution to honor President Hemphill’s contributions to the pursuit of teaching, research and service by naming the building in his honor.
The board has also announced the creation of the President Brian O. Hemphill Student Scholarship Fund, which will provide opportunities for future generations of Highlanders.
Under Hemphill’s leadership, Radford University had the highest enrollment in its history, at 11,870 in fall 2019; the largest graduate enrollment in its history, at 3,903 in fall 2019; the highest percentage of first-generation students in its history, at 39% in fall 2019; the most new freshman applications in its history, at 16,138 in fall 2019; the highest average GPA in its history, at 3.32 in fall 2020; and the most degrees annually conferred in its history, at 2,430 during the 2019-20 academic year, according to the release.
Among the significant accomplishments were the establishment of Radford University Carilion, which stemmed from a merger with Jefferson College of Health Sciences, as well as an annual investment of $10 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia to equalize tuition and fees; a $101 million investment to construct the Artis Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity, representing the largest investment and building in the institution’s history; the $34 million renovation of Reed and Curie Halls; the launch of the competency-based education program IMPACT; the creation and implementation of a bold and visionary five-year strategic plan and 10-year master plan; and the ideation and current construction of a boutique-style hotel near campus. The University broke ground on the hotel project hours before the Hemphill Hall dedication.
Board of Visitors Rector Robert Archer thanked Hemphill for his “truly outstanding leadership and especially his friendship. I, personally,” the rector said in the news release, “have never worked with a more dedicated and talented person under any circumstances.”
Chris Davis, who served as Student Government Association (SGA) president during the 2020-21 academic year, recalled receiving a phone call from Hemphill on the day of the SGA elections.
“I got a random call; I thought it was spam,” Davis said to laughter during the event, according to the release.. He didn’t answer, but he received another call moments later. “Usually, a spam doesn’t call you back.”
Davis took the second call and learned it was Hemphill calling to congratulate him on winning the election.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. The president’s first impression of me is I ignored him,” he said to more laughter.
Hemphill took the podium for the final time as the school’s president, and spoke to the gathering, thanking everyone for their kind words, their friendship and professionalism and dedication to the university.
“Standing there and hearing all of these wonderful comments and statements made me start to reflect and think,” Hemphill said, according to the release. “There is so much about each of you in this room, the way in which each of you leaned in and were forward-focused in the advancement of this institution. I have a great appreciation for you.”