Radford University inaugurates 7th president

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Radford University officially has a new president after a ceremony on Thursday for Dr. Brian O. Hemphill.

Now, he says, it's time to work.

The ceremony included several speakers talking about Hemphill and then the president making some remarks of his own.

He pointed out that colleges need to embrace the change in business and industry in our country. But he made it clear his No. 1 priority as president is the students at Radford University.

In its 106 years, Radford University has only had six presidents.

Now, for the first time in 11 years, someone new is wearing the medallion and carrying the mace.

"I'm honored and humbled to have the opportunity to stand here before you and the seventh president of Radford University," Hemphill said in the ceremony.

Hemphill, who joined the university on July 1, says he already has plans for Radford while he's in charge.

He explained, "We will transform Radford into an innovative, premiere university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond, with a keen focus on teaching, research, and service. That is our vision."

And students in attendance said they couldn't be more excited for the potential.

Junior Stephen Long said, "I have a lot of high hopes, he seems like he's going to be really involved in the community, very helpful, very down to earth."

"I think he's going to be one of the best presidents here," Senior Etrenda Dillon said. "He is clear, concise, he knows what it takes to move us forward, he understands that change is important and he's not scared to take it on."

Educators who know Hemphill say he is the perfect fit for Radford, including Thursday's key note speaker who watched and worked with Hemphill while he was president of West Virginia State University.

E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, said, "Brian made a huge impact at West Virginia State where fundraising retention and graduation rates and out of state enrollments all surged during his tenure. But most importantly, his presence brought a renewed energy and pride to that institution."

He plans to do the same at Radford, and not just for the short term. Hemphill is already looking big picture for the school.

"I promise to serve the Radford University and guide the Radford family by furthering our commitment to civility, unity, and respect, the hallmarks of this family," he said.

Hemphill plans to focus on six certain areas. They include brand identity, academic excellence and research, student success, strategic enrollment growth, economic development and community partnerships, and philanthropic giving and alumni engagement.

He also wants to make innovation a huge part of the campus for both students and faculty.