Thursday, March 03, 2005
RU picks lottery director as president
Penelope Kyle will be Radford's sixth president and first woman to lead the university.
Radford University officials selected a Virginia Lottery executive to be the university's next president Thursday, ending a nearly year-long search for Douglas Covington's successor.
Penelope Kyle, director of the Virginia Lottery and a Galax native, will become Radford's sixth president and the first woman to assume leadership of the 9,300-student public school. Kyle will also be the first non-academic to serve as the university's president, a shift that breaks with Radford tradition but reflects a growing trend in higher education nationwide.
Kyle was chosen from an initial pool of more than 90 applicants for the job. Three final candidates — Kyle plus a president and a chancellor from two other public universities outside Virginia — were eventually brought to campus for public forums before the 13-member search committee recommended Kyle as the next president.
The Radford University Board of Visitors, whose members also served on the search committee, made the selection final on Thursday. Kyle will begin her term in June when Covington retires after a decade with the university.
"I promise to dedicate my talents, my energies and my strong Southwest Virginia work ethic to ensuring that you all have made a smart choice in selecting me for this position," Kyle said during an on-campus acceptance speech.
Kyle will take the helm during what many view as a pivotal time in the university's history. Radford consistently ranks at or near the bottom among Virginia's public colleges in both per-student funding from the state and faculty salaries. Covington and his administration have, in recent years, enjoyed some success lobbying Richmond for additional state funding.
Kyle supporters hope the connections she developed in Richmond during more than a decade with the Virginia Lottery will help the institution in the annual budget-writing sessions in the General Assembly as well as in private fund-raising. Before joining the lottery agency, Kyle worked for CSX Corp. and as an attorney.
With her lack of previous experience in university administration, Kyle may have to overcome initial doubts from the many faculty members who had hoped to be working under another academic. Covington has had a rocky relationship with faculty leaders, some of whom have accused him of running the school with little to no input from the faculty ranks.