The next president of Radford University says one of his first priorities at the school will be to engage with faculty, staff and students.

“I want to have my finger on the pulse,” said Brian Hemphill, now president of West Virginia State University.

Hemphill, 46, was named Wednesday to succeed Penelope W. Kyle as Radford president. Kyle had previously announced her retirement, set for next year.

Hemphill said in a phone interview later Wednesday that he will host fireside chats with Radford faculty, staff and students once he officially begins his tenure on July 1. He said he participated in a similar exercise upon becoming president of West Virginia State in 2012.

He said that his major goals for Radford when he starts will be to grow enrollment and fundraising and make strategic investments in academic programs.

Hemphill said he was attracted to Radford because of the school’s “national reputation for strong undergraduate programs and graduate programs … as well as a world-class faculty.”

“He has the leadership, demeanor, vision and higher education credentials that the board believes will serve Radford University and the commonwealth of Virginia well,” Anthony R. Bedell, rector of Radford University’s board of visitors, said in a news release announcing the appointment.

As part of a five-year contract, Hemphill will be paid an annual base salary of $350,000 plus $100,000 of deferred compensation annually. At West Virginia State he is in the second year of a five-year contract that pays him $287,310 annually, according to a report from the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Kyle was hired in 2005 at a salary of $261,001 and now makes a base salary of no less than $304,814. Once Kyle no longer works for the university, the board of visitors may hire her for consulting at a rate of $914.44 per day, according to her 2013 contract.

Kyle was appointed in 2005 and during her tenure has grown the school’s enrollment and facilities. Since Kyle took office, the university has started or completed more than $214 million worth of new construction.

Kyle was criticized early on because she lacked higher education teaching and scholarly credentials; the newly named president has an extensive academic background.

Radford Faculty Senate President Jerry Kopf wrote in a Wednesday email to faculty: “He is a charismatic, transformational leader who has an outstanding record as president of West Virginia State University and receives accolades from faculty and other stakeholders for both his accomplishments and his leadership style.”

Hemphill’s tenure as president of West Virginia State, a public land-grant university in Charleston, has seen success in increased fundraising, improved retention rates, increased degree completion, and increased transfer and out-of-state student enrollments, according to the Radford University release.

He is married to Marisela Rosas Hemphill and has four children: Jada, 20, Jordan, 16, and twins Catalina and Cruz, 3.

Recommended for you

Commenting is limited to Times-Dispatch subscribers. To sign up, click here.
If you’re already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.