Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D.
Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D.

Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D. named eighth president of Radford University

The Radford University Board of Visitors announced on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021 the selection of 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 accept another university presidency.

“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 comprehensive search by the 23-member Presidential Search Committee led by chair Susan Whealler Johnston, Ph.D., and co-chair Jay A. Brown Ph.D. and assisted by the search firm, Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.

“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!”

Danilowicz has served since 2018 as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. In this role, he was the chief academic and administrative officer of a large public research (R2) university. In addition to supervising 10 academic colleges with a budget of $330 million, Danilowicz provided oversight to related areas such as the Office of Undergraduate Studies, University Registrar, University Libraries, Office of Information Technology and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

“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.

Danilowicz’s career has seen success in numerous areas. His work on FAU’s strategic plan ultimately drove improvement in academic programs, leading to the university’s first ever rank in National Public Research Universities. As well, the university now ranks in the top 50 U.S. News and World Report lists for social mobility and for the diversity of its student body, with programs in business, education, engineering, fine arts, medicine, nursing  and social sciences achieving their highest national rankings for one or more of their programs.

In collaboration with the faculty senate at Florida Atlantic, Danilowicz launched a diversity, equity and inclusion committee charged with identifying policies and practices which should be changed to improve diversity and inclusion efforts. As a result, one of the major changes enacted was the addition of diversity and inclusion learning outcomes for all degrees.

In the last three years, Danilowicz led Florida Atlantic to achieve its highest scores ever in the Florida Board of Governors’ Performance Metrics. The 89-point score in 2021 was the third highest score in Florida. In addition, Florida Atlantic’s four-year graduation rates rose from 31 to 47% in the last three years.

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.

Danilowicz will assume the president’s role on July 1, 2022.


Presidential Search Committee Update - November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

Dear Radford University Community,

I am writing to you today to provide an update on the ongoing presidential search process. 

The Presidential Search Committee recently conducted 15 in-person interviews with candidates identified from a diverse pool as the most qualified to serve as Radford University’s eighth president. During the interviews, the Committee gained insight about each candidate on their views and experience with student success, vision and leadership, team building and motivation, enrollment strategies, resource development, decision making and personal growth, shared governance and communication, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Following the interviews, the Presidential Search Committee identified candidates to move forward in the search process. Currently, reference checks are being conducted on these candidates.

The next step will be for the Presidential Search Committee to provide an unranked list of no fewer than three nor more than five qualified candidates to the Board of Visitors for consideration. The Board of Visitors is committed to identifying the best person to build on the successes of our great University and lead us with prosperity into the future. It is our goal to identify our next president by the end of December.

As part of the ongoing process, we have created a Presidential Transition Committee to plan and facilitate a successful onboarding process and transition for the new president and their family. The Committee will develop a Transition Plan through which the president and their family are introduced to Radford University, the community and constituency groups in order to facilitate the building of healthy working relationships and the continuation of successful strategic planning. The Committee will reach out to other University constituency groups to seek information and support in order to produce and implement the Transition Plan.

The Presidential Transition Committee is made up of seven members and is chaired by Board of Visitors member Lisa Throckmorton. The members include: Board of Visitors member Susan Whealler Johnston; Vice Presidents Chad Reed, Wendy Lowery and Susan Trageser; Faculty Senate President Katie Hilden; and RUC Faculty Member and Faculty Senator Sheila Krajnik. 

I am very proud of the hard work, dedication and commitment that members of the Presidential Search Committee, with the assistance of Greenwood/Asher and Associates, have placed on identifying the best candidates. I also assure you that the Board of Visitors is totally committed to concluding this process with an exceptional and visionary leader to serve as our next president.


Robert A. Archer
Radford University Board of Visitors

Presidential Search Update - September 3, 2021

September 3, 2021

To the Radford Family:

As we start a new academic year and refocus on our mission of providing education and opportunity for students, we want to update you on the progress of the search for Radford University’s eighth president. The work of the Presidential Search Committee, our Board of Visitors, and our search firm, Greenwood/Asher and Associates, gives us confidence that we will be able to identify a great leader for our University.

We are conducting a series of town halls with our alumni and various constituencies of the University community. In these meetings, faculty, staff, students, alumni, neighbors, and others are able to share their insights on those attributes that are important to us in our new leader. These good listening opportunities are very informative, and we are grateful for all the contributions.

Our search firm has been very active with talking with candidates and other interested individuals. Through this, they have made significant progress toward identifying and recruiting a diverse and high-quality list of candidates for the committee’s review and consideration. Radford University’s reputation has generated interest from a strong group of candidates whose qualifications are reflective of the desired qualifications we seek in our next president as outlined in the leadership profile. Our search committee will soon begin its work to review the applications and narrow the field for further consideration.

We will continue to update you as the process moves forward. 


Susan W Johnston, Ph.D.
Presidential Search Committee

Jay A. Brown, Ph.D.
Presidential Search Committee


The Presidential Search at Radford University


The Radford University Board of Visitors has launched a national search for the institution’s eighth president.  The new leader will succeed President Brian O. Hemphill. Ph.D., who will assume the presidency at Old Dominion University effective July 1, 2021.

The Radford University Board of Visitors established a Presidential Search Committee to assist the Board in seeking and recommending the next president. The 23-member committee is chaired by Board of Visitors member Susan Whealler Johnston, Ph.D. and co-chaired by Board of Visitors member Jay A. Brown, Ph.D.  The committee members were chosen from the constituent groups and partners of the Radford University family, including Board of Visitors, faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, community members and Carilion Clinic.   

To assist the Presidential Search Committee throughout this important process, the Radford University Board of Visitors has selected the experienced search firm, Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.

The Presidential Search Committee’s goal is to keep the community informed about the search process and timing. Please check this site often for exciting news and updates.


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About Radford University

Radford University is a comprehensive public university of 10,695 students that has received national recognition for many of its undergraduate and graduate academic programs, as well as its sustainability initiatives. Radford University serves the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation through a wide range of academic, cultural, human service and research programs. Well known for its strong faculty/student bonds, innovative use of technology in the learning environment and vibrant student life on a beautiful 204-acre American classical campus, Radford University offers students many opportunities to get involved and succeed in and out of the classroom. The University offers 76 bachelor’s degree programs in 47 disciplines, three associate degrees, and six certificates at the undergraduate level; 28 master's programs in 23 disciplines and six doctoral programs at the graduate level; and 14 post-baccalaureate certificates and one post-master's certificate. A Division I member of the NCAA and Big South Conference, Radford University competes in 16 men’s and women’s varsity athletics. With over 300 clubs and organizations, Radford University offers many opportunities for student engagement, leadership development and community service. In addition to robust academic offerings and engaging student experiences on the main campus located in Radford, Virginia, Radford University also offers a clinical-based educational experience for more than 1,000 students living and learning in Roanoke, Virginia as part of Radford University Carilion, a public-private partnership focused on the cutting-edge delivery of health sciences programming, outreach and service.


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2018-2023 Strategic Plan: Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future

The goals identified within Radford University’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan: Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future reflect the hopes and dreams of Radford University and those it proudly serves, including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, community and friends.

The plan drives each of us in our daily interactions and collaborative efforts to selflessly serve current and future generations of Highlanders.


View the 2018-2023 Radford University Strategic Plan [PDF] »