A century of student leadership was recognized and celebrated Wednesday at Radford University's Centennial Student Government Association (SGA) Kickoff Dinner.
President Penelope W. Kyle, Board of Visitors members Georgia Anne Snyder-Falkinham and Mary Waugh Campbell '71, M.S. '71, Provost Sam Minner, Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Shanley and other RU administrators, joined the SGA student leaders in the Covington Center to highlight the organization's success throughout the past 100 years.
Dean of Students and advisor to RU's SGA, Irvin Clark, welcomed the more than two dozen attendees to the special event, which coincides with the SGA's annual retreat. SGA Vice President Tiffany Goins and 2014-15 Student Body President Colby Bender also presented.
President Kyle opened her remarks by reflecting on the rich history of Radford University's SGA.
"Our student government has evolved and flourished through the decades, and, through all the changes the university has likewise experienced, including changes to the name, school colors, going co-ed, and becoming a Division I athletics institution, our SGA remains an integral part of this campus and of our students' lives," Kyle said.
Bender, a Chambersburg, Pennsylvania native and first-generation college student, provided examples of the ongoing impact the organization has on its student body.
He addressed the SGA's involvement in the national "Got Consent?" sexual assault awareness campaign.
He said the university has received statewide and national praise for its continuing efforts through this movement to make RU a safe and secure campus.
"These are just small ways we can make a difference and cement a legacy here at Radford," Bender said.
Bender, who also serves as the student representative to RU's BOV, emphasized during his opening comments how important it is for the SGA to be "adaptable" as the university continues to grow its enrollment and expand its campus and academic offerings.
The 2014-15 academic year promises to be an exciting time at Radford, President Kyle said, as progress continues to be made, inside and outside of the classroom.
The President highlighted construction on the new Center for the Sciences building, the College for Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, renovations to two more residence halls and the installment of new intramural fields.
"And as the 'piece de resistance,' construction is almost coming to a conclusion on what I consider the most anticipated project since I arrived at RU just over nine years ago – the Student Recreation and Wellness Center," Kyle said. "When it opens later this fall, you and your fellow students will have what is the most advanced building of its kind on any Virginia university campus."
"We just keep moving forward to make sure that the facilities that we have to offer you and students yet to come are what modern students expect," she later added.
Kyle reminded the students of the great responsibility they share in the success of these projects and the SGA's strategic goals.
"It is my sense, that now more than ever, student leaders, such as yourself, are looked upon as valued members of the university community," Kyle said. "You have been elected to serve as advocates for your peers and the greater RU community."
As the eyes, ears and voice of the university's nearly 10,000 students, the SGA will this year continue to make RU's campus a safe and nurturing environment. The SGA supports Radford's growing list of student organizations, sustainability efforts and its vibrant school spirit.
To keep the student body informed of and engaged in happenings through campus, President Kyle encouraged students to participate in the university's internal government committees.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to interact with faculty, staff and administrators on very important decisions," she said.
Kyle assured the student leaders they are not alone in their journey: We "are invested in your success and that of every student who someday will call RU their alma mater," she said.
"You all have made a lot of progress over the last two to three years," Kyle said. "I thank the staff for working with SGA leaders to get us to the point that we are. We could not communicate as well to the students without an involved SGA, made up of students like yourself. We want to work with you. We want to support you."
Following the presentation, 11 new SGA officers were sworn in. They are: Jesus Martinez, parliamentarian; Tyler Lester, legislative action coordinator; Rebecca Pinsky, community service coordinator; Sarina Eames, historian; Carly Grubbs, website administrator; Carrie Birkett, communications director; Leanna Mattson, public relations coordinator; Kelsea Utt, assistant to the vice president; Jillian Lates, assistant to the chief activities officer; and Jesse Harden and Vikki Crespo, assistant community service coordinators.