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Radford University announces new president

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 2:38 PM EST
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ/Radford University Release) - The Radford University Board of Visitors has announced Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D., as Radford University’s eighth president, effective July 1.

He succeeds Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., who left Radford in June to lead Old Dominion.

“Being an undergraduate focused comprehensive institution, Radford University plays a critical role in higher education for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Danilowicz. “Having already developed a strong reputation for high quality and innovative instruction, Radford is furthering its distinctive mission by strengthening its focus on diversity, sustainability and economic development. Through the search process, I have become enamored by its mission, its dedicated faculty, staff, and alumni, and the students that it serves. Kay and I cannot wait to immerse ourselves in the New River Valley community and meet our new Highlander family!”

After thanking University leaders for the opportunity, Danilowicz addressed the crowd of around 50 people with a phrase he will be saying often as Radford University’s President.

“Good afternoon, Highlanders!”

The announcement came as a 23-person team concluded its month long search. Danilowicz will become the eighth president in the University’s more-than-100-year history.

Just like the university’s history, Danilowicz and his wife Kay have been preparing for this moment for years.

”My wife and I have actually been working 16 years together towards a presidency. Taking purposeful steps as a couple to prepare ourselves for a presidency, because a presidency is not easy.”

But the decision to accept the offer to become Radford’s next president was an easy one for the Danilowiczes.

“My focus is on student success and at every institution I’ve been at, that has been my focus. That has been my love and Radford University has a focus on student success. I was just so excited that this aligned with my interests, and the university’s, and together we can do great things for our students.”

Danilowicz is eager to get started on the ideas he has for the university. One of them includes strengthening the partnerships the university has across the New River Valley.

“My hope is that we can specifically add programs and types of programs. Internships, externships, co-ops for students to provide companies an incentive to actually move to the Radford area. It sets our students up for success, and it sets our community up for success and that’s the type of relationships that I’d love to see in a small town that has a large university.”

For now, Danilowicz will focus on the community getting to know him. Danilowicz will become president July 1, 2022, and University leaders believe he can take Radford to the next level.

“He is a proven leader and possesses the background and experience required to take us to the next level and into the future. He clearly demonstrated to both the Search Committee and the Board of Visitors his energy and commitment to higher education, as well as his life-long goal of becoming a president of a major university such as Radford,” said Robert A. Archer, rector of the board. “I am convinced that Dr. Danilowicz, along with his wife Kay, are a perfect fit for Radford and for the extended Radford community.”

The Board’s selection is the result of a search that included interviews of 15 candidates.

Danilowicz has served since 2018 as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. There, he was the chief academic and administrative officer. In addition to supervising ten academic colleges with a budget of $330 million, he oversaw related areas such as the Office of Undergraduate Studies, University Registrar, University Libraries, Office of Information Technology and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, according to Radford.

“Bret will be a wonderful president. I am extremely proud of his achievements, and so happy for Bret and his family as he transitions into this role,” said John Kelly, Ph.D., President of Florida Atlantic University. “He is a creative thinker and very personable. He will serve Radford University well.”

Prior to joining Florida Atlantic University, Danilowicz served as dean of the college of arts and sciences at Oklahoma State University beginning in 2012.

Radford says 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.

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