The History of the Presidency

When Penelope W. Kyle was named president of Radford University in 2005, she became just the sixth person to serve in that capacity in the history of the institution.

A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Dr. Douglas Covington (1995-2005 ) was a graduate of Central State University and held both Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State University. Before coming to Radford in 1995, he served as president of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania, the nation's first historically Black educational institution. Covington also served as chancellor at Winston-Salem State University and president of Alabama A&M University. At Radford University, Covington was awarded tenure jointly in the departments of psychology and special education and the faculty rank of professor of psychology and education. He retired from office in June of 2005.

Also a Missouri native, Dr. Donald Newton Dedmon (1972-1994) received his undergraduate degree from Southwestern Missouri State College. He pursued his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. His career included teaching experience at both the high school and college levels before he moved into university administration at Colorado State University and Marshall University. Prior to coming to Radford, Dr. Dedmon served as Marshall's executive vice president and acting president.

During the two decades that Dr. Dedmon served as Radford's president, the university experienced unprecedented growth in campus size, curriculum, and student population. Dr. Dedmon was a staunch supporter of the importance of faculty teaching at a time when many other institutions were emphasizing research over classroom work.

A Missouri native, Dr. Charles Knox Martin Jr. (1952-1972) attended Southwest Missouri State College for his undergraduate and graduate studies. In the late 1930s he received his Ph.D. from Yale. Dr. Martin went on to teach at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., both before and after World War II.

During the twenty years that Dr. Martin served as president, he oversaw the dissolution of the RC-VPI marriage and the advancement of Radford College as its own individual institution.

As a leader in teaching education in Va., Radford's student population increased sharply, 22 buildings and additions were added to the campus, and majors offered by the college more than doubled. Now the largest women's college in the state, RC was also one of the most productive, having been cited as the "Most efficiently managed institution in the state."

Born in Franklin County, Va., Dr. David Wilbur Peters (1938-1951) pursued his undergraduate degree at Roanoke College. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D degrees from Columbia University. Dr. Peters was no stranger to Radford when appointed president. He had visited the campus many times as a member of the State Department of Education.

His professional career also included several teaching and administrative positions in Campbell County and Richmond. He was married to Anne Bruce of Rockbridge County. During his tenure as president, Dr. Peters oversaw the transition of Radford to the Women's Division of V.P.I. and guided the school through tremendous post-World War II growth.

Dr. John Preston McConnell (1911-1937) was born in Scott County, Va. Before serving as Radford's first president, McConnell had served for nine years as dean and professor of history and economics at Emory and Henry College. He received both his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Milligan College and pursued his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. He met and married his wife, Clara Louise Lucas, while at Milligan. Though his beliefs were unfashionable at the time, Dr. McConnell was a strong supporter of the need for quality education for women. His career at Radford was marked by efforts to ensure equal access to information, courses and materials for female students. McConnell Library, bearing his name, is a testament to his undying quest for excellent facilities on Radford's campus.