RADFORD, Va. — It's a sad day at Radford University. Former school president Douglas Covington passed away this morning. He was 77.
Covington retired from the school in June of 2005. Current president Penny Kyle took over for Covington following his retirement.
The Douglas and Beatrice Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts at Radford University was named for him and his wife.
Covington was the first African-American president to lead a non-historically black school in the commonwealth.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Here is the message posted on the Radford University website:
Dear Radford University Community,
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you about the death of Radford University’s fifth president, Dr. H. Douglas Covington.
Dr. Covington died this morning at the age of 77.
I know that many of you knew or worked with Dr. Covington, and I am certain that you recall the warmth that both he and his late wife, Bea, exuded to everyone in the RU community.
Dr. Covington had many accomplishments during his decade as President of Radford University. When he was inaugurated in 1995 as the first African-American to lead a non-historically black public college or university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it was a defining moment in the history of our university and the state. During his tenure at Radford, Dr. Covington presided over the university’s first capital campaign, and he led the efforts towards completing the university's first strategic plan. But what may be his greatest legacy, however, was his tireless advocacy for the arts at Radford University.
The building that is now The Douglas and Beatrice Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts was Dr. Covington's "dream." Although construction on the Covington Center was not begun until after Dr. Covington had retired from RU, we were able to bring his dream to fruition and were blessed that he was able to attend the gala that formally opened the Covington Center in 2008. On that evening, the RU community came together to honor Dr. Covington and to thank him for the lasting impact that he made on this university. On every occasion that we host an event in the Covington Center, I know that each of us remembers Dr. Covington and thanks him for his vision and his service to Radford University. His contributions to this university will forever be recognized.
When his final arrangements have been determined, we will share that information with you.
I know that you join with me in extending our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Covington's family.