By Robert Archer
Archer is rector of the Radford University Board of Visitors. He lives in Salem.
Serving as Rector of the Radford University Board of Visitors, I am compelled to respond to Robert C. Ewers’ Sept. 26 letter, “RU a good steward of funds?” I would agree with Mr. Ewers that it is critical for each college and university in the commonwealth to make sure that all resources are utilized in a fiscally responsible and appropriate manner, always keeping the students’ best interest in mind.
To this end, I can assure Mr. Ewers that the Board of Visitors and the Radford University administration spend untold hours to guarantee this is the case.
Regardless, I would also provide the following perspective.
No state funds were used for the recent “Exploring the Nexus of Politics and Society” event that featured Katie Couric as moderator and Donna Brazile and Ana Navarro as panelists. A combination of private funds and student fees were used to cover all costs.
The use of student fees is a common source of funding, used by all colleges and universities, for concerts, speakers, events, and programs that benefit students and the broader community. These programs have proven to enhance the education and campus experience for students, faculty, and the community alike. This event was no different.
As another example, many colleges and universities utilize student fees to help fund other programs to include college athletics. Again, these programs have shown to benefit the student and campus experience. This inaugural event at Radford University resulted in a packed auditorium and, due to how well it was received, lasted an additional 30 minutes beyond its scheduled time.
Radford University will continually weigh the benefit derived relative to the cost of each to ensure that we are adding true value. Those that are invited to participate in future must also be of the stature and possess the expertise in order to make it worthwhile. In this case, Katie Couric, Donna Brazile, and Ana Navarro filled that requirement, and I believe those in attendance would agree.
Similar events will continue at Radford University and will serve as an adjunct learning experience for our students, faculty, and the community. We will continue to carefully weigh the balance between content and cost, as we should. In this case, you had to be there to fully appreciate the benefit.