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PENELOPE WARD KYLE

Former President, Radford University

Penelope Ward Kyle was Radford University’s sixth president and the first woman to hold the position. She was president of Radford from 2005 through June 30, 2016, after more than 30 years of experience in the legal and corporate worlds, in state government and in higher education, including practicing law at a large international law firm before becoming the first female officer at a Fortune 500 company. 

She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, a Master of Business Administration degree from The College of William and Mary and an undergraduate degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. She also completed post graduate work in English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

During Kyle’s tenure, she has led the university on a course of unprecedented growth and achievement. In fall 2013, Radford University’s enrollment established an institution record of nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Since 2005, Radford University has secured approval and funding for, or completed, more than $330 million in capital projects, including both new construction and renovation. RU opened the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts in 2008, the technologically advanced College of Business and Economics building in 2012 and the state-of-the-art Student Recreation and Wellness Center in December 2014. Construction is currently underway on the Center for the Sciences, with a plan to open the building in mid-2015. Construction began in July 2014 on the new home of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS). When completed in 2016, the new CHBS building will be the largest academic building on campus at 146,300 square feet.

Radford University has also seen a number of significant academic developments under President Kyle’s leadership. The university’s first doctoral programs were added in psychology, physical therapy (taught at the Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital) and nursing practice, as well as several master’s degree programs.

Radford University’s growth and innovation have drawn national accolades. For the first time, the university was named one of the nation’s “Top Up-and-Coming Schools” in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2010 Guide to America’s Best Colleges. Other awards include: The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges and Universities in the Southeast” for seven of the last eight years; U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 and 2015 list of “Best Regional Universities in the South”; The Princeton Review’s Top 75 U.S. Public “Best Value Colleges” in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014; The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges in 2010-2014, in recognition of RU’s sustainability efforts; The Princeton Review’s “Best 296 Business Schools” in 2012-2015; the National Council on Teacher Quality’s ranking Radford University as one of only thirteen U.S. schools with “Multiple Strong Programs” in Teacher Preparation; and DesignIntelligence’s “Top 10 Interior Design Schools in the South” for 2014. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has recognized RU for two consecutive years for innovation in higher education, most recently for the university’s Wintermester online mini-sessions.

President Kyle is currently a member of the Board of Directors of PRA, Inc., a publicly traded company, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the board of the Fulbright Foundation Program that provides Fulbright scholarships for faculty and students who study and/or teach between the U.S. and Canada. In 2011, she was elected president of the Big South Athletic Conference, the first woman to hold that office, and has represented the conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Presidential Advisory Group since 2009.

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