RADFORD – Bethany McKay Usher, Ph.D., will join Radford University as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs on June 12, 2023.
She will take the helm from Marten denBoer, Ph.D., who has served as interim provost since July 1, 2022, and will continue to assist in this role until June 30.
Usher is currently associate provost for undergraduate education at George Mason University, where she has served in progressive leadership roles since 2010. After conducting research as a Fulbright Scholar studying social and biological patterns in medieval Danish cemeteries, she earned her Ph.D. in biological anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, her Master of Arts degree in bioarchaeology from Arizona State University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and biology from the University of Virginia.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Usher to Radford University,” said President Bret Danilowicz. “The interview process highlighted her understanding and support of our culture of student engagement, and drive to improve student success at Radford University.”
Usher’s background reflects her focused interest in providing transformational, high-impact undergraduate education for all students. Early in her career, at State University of New York, Potsdam, she received a Department of Education grant and alumni donation and became the founding director of the Center for Undergraduate Research, her first opportunity to support an institutional initiative.
Based on George Mason University’s first Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to build a campus-wide and undergraduate research program, Usher was recruited to take the Students as Scholars initiative from concept to implementation. She and a team of administrators, staff and students built a model that gave every student, no matter their background or major, the opportunity to engage in scholarly activities.
“The focus on the faculty and student shared experience is what really has drawn me to Radford,” Usher said. “I was impressed by how the faculty valued their teaching and their students and how students’ were excited about being at Radford. It demonstrated there is a shared understanding of the essential value of the Radford experience that will be at the core of strategic planning in the future.
“Her leadership in enhancing the retention and success of traditionally underserved students fits our aspirations of providing similar support to our increasingly diverse student body,” Danilowicz said. “She has led successful strategic efforts across academic affairs ranging from reform of general education to the significant expansion of undergraduate research.”
With numerous accomplishments to her credit, Usher’s proudest moments have been teaching and working alongside her students. She says some have earned Ph.D.’s in anthropology and many others are working in health care, education, policing and more.
“I look forward to building on Radford’s well-deserved national reputation of teaching through student-centered experiential education,” said Usher. “I am particularly excited to see student and faculty work on display in every program, and highlighted in the new Arts Center, the IMPACT Lab, the Venture Lab in the Business School, and the health programs at RUC.”
Usher’s decade at SUNY Potsdam included eight years in the department of anthropology, serving as chair in 2007-08, before moving on to direct the department of undergraduate research. Prior to her time at Potsdam, Usher was a researcher and instructor at Penn State and Shippensburg University.