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The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship

The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship

Created in recognition of Minnis E. Ridenour’s service to the Commonwealth and Virginia Tech by the Strickler family, this program fosters creative advancement of faculty and students across the SPIA programs.

SPIA faculty and students strive to develop outstanding scholarship that can be applied in practice to continuously inform, question, and advance knowledge in the public sphere. The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship programs provide a forum to advance this core mission.

The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship program fosters the creative advancement of faculty and students across the SPIA programs. To further this goal, SPIA initiated annual programming in 2006 to catalyze understanding of social issues and possible policy solutions through the synergy of interdisciplinary engagement. The approach for Ridenour Fellowship programming for conference and research series is twofold:

  1. First, we aim for a robust interdisciplinary exchange that builds substantive knowledge as well as a cumulative understanding of best practices for interdisciplinary work across all the conferences. 
  2. Second, we aim to generate a research network between SPIA faculty and students and scholars across Virginia Tech and the globe, with the goal of producing research and discourse that results from convening.

The goal of the Faculty Fellowship endowment in the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs (VT SPIA) was to create a forum to bring together VT SPIA faculty with leading scholars and practitioners to explore various topics of interest. Further, it was intended to serve as a tool to engage graduate students in these conversations on scholarship as a means of enriching their graduate experience. 

VT SPIA holds an important role in helping to shape public policy and the improvement of public and nonprofit administration. It is essential that VT SPIA lead the way for the university in the engagement with topics, and scholars, who can sincerely evaluate current issues and events and point to ways in which public administrators, urban planners, and future scholars can be innovative and creative in their approach to developing solutions.

The Minnis E. Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Endowment was created through a generous gift from the Strickler Family of Harrisonburg, VA to honor Mr. Ridenour’s service to Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia and to foster the creative advancement of faculty and students in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) in public administration and policy, urban and regional planning, and government and international affairs.

Mr. Minnis E. Ridenour joined Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1974 as the university's Budget Director and Chief Business Officer. He later served as Vice President for Finance until his promotion in 1987 to Executive Vice President. In May 2001, Mr. Ridenour was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and served in this position until 2004 when he announced his plan to retire and he assumed the position of Senior Fellow for Resource Development. Mr. Ridenour also served as Executive Vice President of the Virginia Tech Foundation and served on the boards of other university related corporations. As Senior Fellow, Mr. Ridenour was responsible for leading the effort to restructure higher education in the Commonwealth on behalf of Virginia Tech.

Photo of Minnis E. Ridenour

Mr. Minnis E. Ridenour joined Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1974 as the university's Budget Director and Chief Business Officer. He later served as Vice President for Finance until his promotion in 1987 to Executive Vice President.  In May 2001, Mr. Ridenour was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and served in this position until 2004 when he announced his plan to retire and he assumed the position of Senior Fellow for Resource Development. Mr. Ridenour also served as Executive Vice President of the Virginia Tech Foundation and served on the boards of other university related corporations. As Senior Fellow, Mr. Ridenour was responsible for leading the effort to restructure higher education in the Commonwealth on behalf of Virginia Tech.  

Past Programs

Ridenour Faculty Fellow: 

Dr. Virgil Wood & the Beloved Community Initiative 

A Beloved Community Initiative was a  collaborative initiative supported by the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Endowment and the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities.

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Dr. Virgil Wood served as a Visiting Faculty in the School of Public and International Affairs from July 2017 through July 2018. During his tenure with VT SPIA Dr. Wood convened several gatherings to showcase the work of SPIA faculty, to engage collaborative partnerships with external universities and nonprofits, and to highlight the visibility of SPIA nationally. Click here to take part in the conversations held as part of the Beloved Community Initiative.

Featured Events

Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference and High Table Celebration:

Faith in the System Restoring Trust in Government in a Time of Complex Governing Challenges

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech; Dr. Christopher H.  Foreman, Jr., Professor and Director of the Social Policy Program at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy (High Table Speaker)

2017 Ridenour & High Table Speaker: Dr. Marc Edwards
2017 Ridenour & High Table Speaker: Dr. Marc Edwards

The headlines in 2016 were dominated by major political events such ‘Brexit’ and the United States presidential election that highlighted polarized and frustrated national electorates. In addition, local and state governments faced complex issues from lead poisoning in the Flint, Michigan water supply, to confrontations between police and communities across the country, to protests on the indigenous grounds of Standing Rock in North Dakota. Over the past few years, the Gallup Poll has shown trust in our elected officials and public institutions at historic lows. The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference and High Table Celebration explored how governments at home and abroad are coping with limited capacity to deliver services, protect citizens, and respond to economic and social crises.

Learn more about this event: VT News and Collegiate Times.

  • Pablo Garcia Ahabéhéty, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
  • Matthew Homer, Senior Policy Advisor, USAID. At USAID. 
  • Gizem Korkmaz, Research Assistant Professor, Social and Decision Analytics Lab, Biocomplexity Institute, Virginia Tech.
  • Chrissy Martin, Digital Finance Advisor, Global Development Lab, Digital Financial Services Team, USAID
  • Patricia Nickel, Assistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech
  • Dorothe Singer, Economist, Finance and Private Sector Research Team, Development Research Group, World Bank
  • Tom Sanchez, Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech
  • Moderator: Giselle Datz, Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech
  • Chair: David Bieri, Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Associate Professor, Economics (affiliate)

Digital payment systems are changing this reality and can go even further in promoting financial inclusion. Through their mobile phones people without a bank account can make and receive payments at a low cost. The promises of “digital finance” are many. It can: increase the incentives for saving, promote insurance, increase women’s economic participation, reduce information asymmetries that can limit access to credit, reduce the cost of financial transactions for individuals and governments, as well as help detect illicit money flows. Most of these processes, in turn, can significantly improve financial resilience.  Yet, there are also perils related to increased financial inclusion through digital technologies. Regulatory and operational steps must be taken to assure the protection of consumers’ data and funds, assure the reliability of service provision, and prevent new forms of financial fraud.

Keynote Speaker:

  • Susan Gooden, Virginia Commonwealth University

Plenary Speakers:

  • Nancy Lopez, University of New Mexico
  • Debra Joy Perez, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Presenters/Facilitators:

  • Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University
  • George Jones, Bread for the City, Washington, D.C.
  • Parisa B. Norouzi, Empower DC
  • Marlon Murphy, Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center and Domestic Relations
  • Karen Shaban, Fairfax County, Local Government Initiatives
  • Matthew Freeman, TMI Consulting
  • Sarah Morrison, Center for the Study of Social Policy

This conference aimed to bridge gaps in communication and practices for those conducting social equity work. In particular, the focus encompassed the intersection of social equity and race. See the website at https://www.cpe.vt.edu/rsew/agenda.html.

Panel Discussion: The Roles of Black History Museums in Public Policy

Panel: 

  • Audrey Davis of the Alexandria Black History Museum
  • Christy Coleman of the American Civil War Museum
  • Aaron Bryant of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The panel discussion explored the role that curators and leaders of museums of African American history have in leading discussions of diversity and inclusion in their communities. This event focused on the role of non-traditional policy makers and historians in discussions of race and equity, and the ways in which they might find themselves retelling or negating certain narratives and leading conversations about unique histories of race, race relations and community inclusion. 

Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: 

Resilience

Resilience was defined by the conference as a rallying point for interdisciplinary research, planning, and policy making to address an infinite number of pressing issues from climate change to community well-being to economic stability.

Organizers: Anne Khademian, Anja Bieri, Eric Hodges

Speakers: Anne Khademian, Sanjay Raman, Jack Davis, Karen Roberto, Jack Harrald, Kevin Bush (USDHUD), Maggie Cowell, Yang Zhang, Chris Zobel, William Drake, Yuhong Li, Amanda Hughes, Walter Gillies Peacock, Irmak Renda-Tanali, Thomas Sanchez, Jim Davis, Ed Walker, Anamaria Bukvic, Elizabeth Chavez, Trevor Flanery, Ralph Hall, Robert Ashford, Robin Lemaire, Michal Linder-Zarankin, Timothy Manning, Susan Sterett, Deniz Anginer, David Bieri, Giselle Datz

Panel Topics

  1. Community Resilience: Federal Support for Local Action;
  2. Research Frontiers of Disaster Resilience: Adaptive Learning and Social Media;
  3. Public Private Partnerships;
  4. Forging Research on Resilience;
  5. Resiliency and the Network Approach;
  6. Dimensions of Financial Resilience: Conceptualization and Policy Implications.

Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: 

Possibilities of Governance - Governing Possibilities

Poster of 2013 Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: Possibilities of Governance

Our conference format of structured yet free-flowing conversation allowed new explorations of empirical research and conceptual ideas to emerge. Conversations between social scientists, geographers, artists, public administration scholars, planners, landscape architects, economists, lawyers, and others highlighted new ideas, forged cross cutting themes, questioned the concepts and methods we use. The conference’s interactions made intellectual, practical and aesthetic connections not previously in place. This is what every Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference strives to achieve.

Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: 

Distressed Cities

Poster of 2012 Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: Distressed Cities

The organizing principle of the conference was the broad interdisciplinary exploration of the concept of distressed cities, and the implications for policy and practice. 

 

Organizers: Anne Khademian and Anja Haelg Bieri

Speakers: Ken Reardon, Valerie Lemmie, Joe Rees, Robert Beauregard, Joe Schilling, Carol Becker, Sonia Hirt, Ed Walker, Derek Hyra, Ralph Buehler, Matt Dull, John Randolph, Kris Wernstedt, Terry Clements Giselle Datz, John Provo, Maggie Cowell, Patrick Roberts, Laura Jensen, Max Stephenson, Laura Zanotti, Yang Zhang, Kevin DeSouza.

Panel Topics

  1. Dimensions of Distress;  
  2. Forms of Resilience; 
  3. Public Participation as Resource for Distressed Cities;
  4. Equitable Redevelopment; 
  5. Social Entrepreneurship and Placemaking: Transformative Power Hidden in Plain View;
  6.  Art, Creativity, and Economic Uplift;
  7. Graduate Student Paper Presentation

Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference: 

Geopolitics

Organizer: Dr. Gerard Kearns

Speakers: Derek Gregory, David Harvey, Gerry Kearns, Charles Kupchan, Michael Lind, Gerard Toal, Nadia Abu-Zahra, Simon Dalby, Giselle Datz, Dan Deudney, Jakub Grygiel, Jennifer Hyndman, Patrick Jackson, Timothy Luke, Peter Mandaville, Wolfgang Natter, Rachel Pain, Joel Peters, Christopher Preble, Karen Till.

Public Lecture: 

Community Trauma in the Context of the Current Economic Crisis

Organizer: Dr. Gerard Kearns

SpeakerMindy Fullilove, Professor of Urban Policy & Health, The New School

Mindy Fullilove spoke about community trauma in the context of the current economic crisis. Dr. Fullilove will draw upon her longstanding interest in healing traumatized urban communities. In her work she has studied urban "renewal," AIDS, the crack epidemic, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as events that have so disoriented community networks and resources that they produce traumatized neighborhoods vulnerable to further social malaise, new challenges reverberate almost uncontrollably through such places. Indeed the concept of place and its links to community resilience are central to her work as she describes both in Rootshock and The House of Joshua.

Poster of 2009 Ridenour Public Lecture: Community Trauma in the Context of the Current Economic Crisis

Public Lecture: 

Charitable Giving for What: Are Donors Gaining Too Much Control?

Organizer: Max Stephenson

Speaker: Susan A. Ostrander, Department of Sociology, Tufts University

Dr. Susan Ostrander, Professor of Sociology at Tufts University, presented a seminar and public lecture relating to her areas of expertise of  nonprofit organizations, democracy and civil society including philanthropic organizations, civic engagement, grassroots community organizing and gender and socio-economic class issues.

Organizer: Max Stephenson

Speaker: Arthur C. Brooks, Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Arthur C. Patterson Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School

  1. Public Presentation: Why Giving Matters
    Giving and volunteering are often seen as merely resources to support charitable activities, and many nonprofit organizations see fundraising as little more than a necessary evil. But research has emerged showing that giving and volunteering are, in and of themselves, an enormous source of prosperity, health, and happiness for givers themselves. This presentation lays out the evidence that charity is one of the most important sources of strength and vitality for individuals, our communities, and our nation.

  2. Doctoral Student Symposium: Religion, Private Charity, and Civil Society

The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship is designed to support SPIA faculty and students further intellectual discourse.

Faculty are invited to apply for the fellowship to host a speaker or arrange an event to uphold the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship mission. Please contact Amanda Fawkes for more detail.