A search that began over the summer has come to an end as Radford University announced the hiring of its eighth president Thursday afternoon.
Bret Danilowicz, who has served as the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University since 2018, said becoming the president of a university is the culmination of nearly two decades of work for him and his wife, Kay.
He succeeds Brian Hemphill, who is now the president at Old Dominion University.
“My wife and I have actually been working for 16 years together towards a presidency, taking purposeful steps to prepare ourselves. Because a presidency is not easy to work through as a couple … We’ve been preparing for 16 years and we were ready,” Danilowicz said following his introduction ceremony to some university stakeholders in the Covington Center.
Danilowicz, 54, also said that he intends to finish his career as the university’s leader.
“I’ve read a lot of notes from former presidents, and it is a common belief that you need to be somewhere for at least 10 years to make a lasting impact,” he said.
People are also reading…
He said one of the major draws to the university was that it is centered on student success, something he believes has been the framework of his career in higher education.
“It’s always been my love and Radford University has a focus on student success almost to the point that they’re almost like a private institution that has a public university price and that’s a really rare thing to find that combination in the United States,” Danilowicz said.
Improving the university’s four-year graduation rate has been a major focus for Radford over the last several years, something Danilowicz has had success with at FAU. Florida The school’s four-year graduation rates rose from 31% to 47% in the last three years.
Radford officials also lauded some of Danilowicz’s other successes at FAU, most notably his work on FAU’s strategic plan, which ultimately drove improvement in academic programs, leading to the university’s first ever rank in National Public Research Universities, according to a Radford news release.
“In the last three years, Danilowicz led Florida Atlantic to achieve its highest scores ever in the Florida Board of Governors’ Performance Metrics. The 89-point score in 2021 was the third highest score in Florida,” according to the release.
Additionally, the university now ranks in the top 50 U.S. News and World Report lists for social mobility and for the diversity of its student body.
Robert A. Archer, rector of Radford’s Board of Visitors, told those in attendance at Thursday’s announcement that the university got the best candidate available.
“He is a proven leader and possesses the background and experience required to take us to the next level and into the future … I am convinced that Dr. Danilowicz, along with his wife Kay, are a perfect fit for Radford and for the extended Radford community,” he said in the release.
The incoming president, who mixed in humor throughout his introduction speech, told those in attendance that he knows his last name can be hard to pronounce, often causing confusion or awkward exchanges.
“You all can call me Bret. Hopefully that’s the only four letter word you all call me,” he joked. “But if that is still too informal for some of you all, call me President Bret.”
Danilowicz’s hire was led by a 23-member Presidential Search Committee, with the assistance of search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc., with the BOV ultimately making the decision on who would be the school’s next president.
Danilowicz earned a doctor of philosophy degree in zoology from Duke University, a master of business administration from Georgia Southern University, master of arts in education from The Open University, U.K., and his bachelor of science in biology with a computer science minor from Utica College of Syracuse University. Additionally, Danilowicz held two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Windsor, Canada.
Danilowicz will assume the president’s role on July 1, and has starting salary package of $450,000 with base salary and deferred compensation, according to university officials.
The entire contract was not immediately made available by the university on Thursday.