Board of Visitors names Radford University’s eighth president

New River Valley News

(Photo: Courtesy Radford University)

RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — On Thursday afternoon, the Radford University Board of Visitors announced the selection of Bret S. Danilowicz, Ph.D., as university’s eighth president, effective next July.

Danilowicz is set to succeed Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., who left Radford in June to become the first African American president of Old Dominion University.

“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, in a statement released on Thursday, Dec. 9. “I am convinced that Dr. Danilowicz, along with his wife Kay, are a perfect fit for Radford and for the extended Radford community.”

According to the university, the selection of Danilowicz comes after 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., with some assistance from 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!”

School officials say Danilowicz earned a doctor of philosophy degree in zoology from Duke University; a master of business administration from Georgia Southern University; a master of arts in education from The Open University, U.K.; and a bachelor of science in biology with a computer science minor from Utica College of Syracuse University. In addition, Danilowicz held two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Windsor, Canada.

“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.”

Danilowicz served as dean of the college of arts and sciences at Oklahoma State University beginning in 2012, Thursday’s statement says.

Ever since 2018, though, Danilowicz has reportedly served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

As the chief academic and administrative officer of a large public research (R2) university, Danilowicz not only supervised 10 academic colleges with a budget of $330 million, but he also 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, according to officials.

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.

Statement issued by Radford University on Dec. 9, 2021

Danilowicz is set to officially assume the role of president at Radford University on July 1, 2022.

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