Regions Southwest Virginia

Brian O. Hemphill selected as next president of Radford University

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Brian O. Hemphill was named Radford University’s seventh president Wednesday. He will begin his term on July 1. Currently the president of West Virginia State University, Hemphill will succeed Penelope W. Kyle, who is retiring after 11 years at Radford’s helm.

In making the announcement, the Radford University Board of Visitors said Hemphill was selected from a field of 76 candidates after an eight-month search by a 20-member committee.

“Dr. Hemphill impressed the board and the Presidential Search Committee as extremely well-qualified and experienced among a very strong field of candidates.  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, the board’s rector, said in a statement. “ With a diverse background at a variety of universities across the nation, Dr. Hemphill has the energy and experience to build upon Radford University’s successes, to lead our campus community to exciting future possibilities, and to continue Radford’s tradition of education that is first and foremost student-focused.”

Hemphill said in a statement that “it is both an honor and privilege to be named the 7th president of Radford University by the Board of Visitors. My wife, Marisela Rosas Hemphill, and I are grateful for the trust the board has placed in us as our family relocates in early summer 2016 and makes the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Radford our new home.  We look forward to meeting the entire campus community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, and witnessing firsthand what it means to be a Highlander. “

Hemphill has served since July 2012 as the 10th president of West Virginia State University, a public land-grant university in Charleston with an enrollment of about 3,100 students. According to the school's website, the university was founded in 1891 as a historically black university. It later evolved into an ethnically diverse institution with residential and commuter students and adult learners.


Hemphill is a published author, whose writings cover topics related to gun violence and threat-preparedness on college campuses, emerging financial concerns affecting higher education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

In fall 2015, he co-edited a book titled “College in the Crosshairs: An Administrative Perspective on Prevention of Gun Violence.”

From 2004 to 2012 Hemphill served at the 21,000-student Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, as a vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and associate professor. Previously, he worked as an associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, from 2001 to 2004.

Before that he served as associate dean of students at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and as assistant dean of students at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Hemphill began his career in higher education as coordinator of minority recruitment and retention (Education Services, College of Education) at Iowa State University in Ames from 1993 to 1995.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication in 1992 at St. Augustine’s College in  Raleigh, N.C., and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication in 1994 at Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames. He also holds a doctorate in higher education administration and policy studies from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Hemphill and his wife have four children, ages 20, 16 and a set of 3-year-old twins.

Radford University is a mid-size public university founded in 1910 with a 204-acre campus located in Radford.
The university has an enrollment of more than 9,700 undergraduate and graduate students in seven colleges.



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