State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.
State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside.

Virginia Board of Education holds hearings to gather comments on SOL revisions

The Virginia Board of Education is holding public hearings across the state in order on the proposed revised 2023 history and social science Standards of Learning.

Each public hearing will begin at 7 p.m., with registration of speakers starting at 6:30 p.m. Speakers will have 3 minutes to speak and should bring copies of their comments for the board. The public hearings will be held at the following locations: 

  • March 13: Jamestown Settlement, 2110 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg
  • March 14: George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon.
  • March 15: Piedmont Community College, 501 College Drive, Charlottesville.
  • March 16: O. Winston Link & History Museum of Western Virginia, 101 Shenandoah Ave. N.E., Roanoke.
  • March 20: Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, 1 Partnership Circle, Abingdon.
  • March 21: Robert Russa Moton Museum, 900 Griffin Blvd., Farmville.

The board is also accepting public comment in advance of the meeting using this form.

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Ferrum College to host an evening with Mark Twain as fundraiser

Ferrum College Theatre Arts will host “An Evening of Dinner and Theatre With Mark Twain,” written by and starring award-winning playwright and professor emeritus R. Rex Stephenson, on March 15.

Stephenson and friends of the college’s Theatre Department are giving this one-evening performance to support Ferrum College Theatre Arts.

Dinner will be held in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room in Franklin Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m. and reservations are required. The doors for Sale Theatre in Schoolfield Hall will open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for dinner and the show or for the show only at

Ferrum College Theatre Arts is also participating in this year’s SML Gives, an online giving event on March 15 that offers more than 20 Franklin County and Bedford nonprofits the opportunity to fundraise, gain exposure and build relationships.

“Our collective goal is to raise over $100,000, with an organizational goal of $8,000 to help offset production rights, wood and paint for sets, curtains and more,” said Rebecca Crocker, assistant professor and program coordinator for Theatre Arts at the college.

Gifts to support Ferrum College Theatre Arts and its SML Gives fundraiser may be made at

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Franklin Graham will speak at Liberty University commencement

Evangelist and Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham will be the keynote speaker at Liberty University’s commencement main ceremony on May 12.

This year’s commencement will be one of the largest in school history, the university said in a news release. Liberty expects a crowd of 60,000 for commencement events taking place on campus over three days. More than 25,000 degrees will be conferred.

Individual degree presentation ceremonies will be held May 11-13 at different campus locations. Graham will speak at the main ceremony, open to all graduates and guests, at 7 p.m. May 12 at Williams Stadium.

For a full schedule of this year’s commencement events, visit

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Radford University names Usher as provost, senior VP

Bethany McKay Usher has been named Radford University’s new provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

Bethany Usher. Photo courtesy of George Mason University.

She will start her new position June 12 and will take the helm from Marten denBoer, who has served as interim provost since last July, according to a news release from the university.

Usher is currently associate provost for undergraduate education at George Mason University, where she has served in leadership roles since 2010. After conducting research as a Fulbright Scholar studying social and biological patterns in medieval Danish cemeteries, she earned her doctorate 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.

Based on George Mason University’s first Quality Enhancement Plan 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 designed to give 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 in the release. “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.”