RADFORD – Radford University culminated its historic one-hundredth anniversary Wednesday with a Centennial Charter Day Celebration.
Graduates of Radford from 1925 to 2010 were present for the ceremony and marched in to the celebration with bagpipes leading the way.
Also in attendance were two special guests – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and keynote speaker Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver for TOMS Shoes. TOMS is a company that gives a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair the company sells.
Mycoskie focused on his company around the chief message of the ceremony, which was service to the community. So far, his company has given away 400,000 pairs of shoes to children.
Gov. McDonnell applauded Mycoskie for his efforts and talked about service.
“Especially in these trying economic times, (service) is something we need to continue to remind us of the hallmark of the United States,” McDonnell said. “I believe that for 233 years America has believed in the ‘golden rule’ – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Shirley Watson, a 1960 graduate of Radford and representative of the alumni, gave a detailed timeline of the many events that had changed Radford and added to the history of the school.
“Our name may have changed five times,” Watson said. But, “we have always been Radford’s history and our alumni are the fabric of America.”
In 1910, Radford was founded by Dr. John Preston McConnell as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Radford. The college was a women’s college, which offered just a two-year degree in “rural arts.”
The school would be renamed in 1924 as the State Teachers College at Radford, which focused on educating teachers who were local to the area. Virginia Tech would incorporate into the campus just 19 years later in 1943, when the State Teachers College became the Women’s Division of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
After it was desegregated in the 1960s, the college cut ties with Virginia Tech and became Radford College. Men started to be admitted to the college by 1972 and a graduate studies program also was developed that year.
The final change happened in 1979, when the school finally became known as Radford University.
Just before the festivities of the day came to a close, Radford University president Penelope Kyle closed with an emphatic speech about the university’s past and its future as it moves forward.
“We are a university that has made its mark in the first century, Kyle said. “We will continue to make a mark in the century that lies ahead.”