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President Broderick Delivers 10th State of the University Address to Crowd of 1,500

By Jon Cawley

Old Dominion President John R. Broderick delivered his 10th State of the University address Aug. 23, highlighting achievements from the past year while looking toward the future. He announced the most successful commercialization of University-based research as well as a $200 million fundraising goal — the most ambitious campaign in ODU's history.

President Broderick told the approximately 1,500 people gathered for the address that the University and a group of researchers at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics were the recipients of Pulse Biosciences stock shares worth $41.6 million. Pulse Biosciences is a publicly traded company created in California to pursue a non-drug cancer-fighting treatment developed at Old Dominion.

The Pulse Biosciences stock distribution marks the most successful example of research commercialization in Old Dominion's history, as well as the largest total for a Virginia university in the past year. Visit News@ODU to learn more about Pulse Biosciences.

The new fundraising campaign will build on more than $765 million already raised in recent years through private philanthropy. It will launch this fall, and is intended to support academic scholarships, faculty and staff enhancements and further develop the University's athletics scholarships and special projects including expansion of S.B. Ballard Stadium.

Prior to the address, President Broderick asked attendees to bring canned food donations for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. Donations totaled 325 pounds of food and $325 in donations, which equates to 1,202 meals.

The crowd at the Ted Constant Convocation Center was the largest ever for the annual address, which attracts political, business and community leaders, as well as Old Dominion faculty and staff members.

During the speech, President Broderick channeled the spirit of President Harry Truman and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

"Together, we have reinforced the truth said often by President Truman: 'A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of difficulties.' Truman's give-'em-hell spirit pervades Old Dominion from faculty and staff to students and alumni. We also live by Dr. Martin Luther King's credo, 'The time is always right, to do what is right.'"

As an example, President Broderick cited the Women's Initiative Network, co-founded by First Lady Kate Broderick and Board of Visitors member Pam Kirk, which mentors first-generation female students "with inspiring results."

"In essence, WIN wants to ensure every ODU student competes on an even playing field. We estimate, despite our commitment to keep tuition low, the typical student here is financially short about $1,700 annually," he said. "WIN wants to literally bridge this gap to ensure that our students remain in school and graduate."

President Broderick also cited several University achievements over the past year:

  • The organization Education Trust cited Old Dominion as one of the 15 universities with the best track records of graduating African-American students;
  • In partnership with George Mason, Old Dominion launched the Online Virginia Network, led by Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services. The network will provide a convenient way for thousands of Virginians to complete their degrees;
  • Business Insider, examining data from U.S. News & World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education, last month named Old Dominion the most affordable college in Virginia;
  • Old Dominion recorded the highest graduation rate in its history this year;
  • The opening of the new Education Building, the Broderick Dining Commons, the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center and the groundbreaking of the Barry Art Museum; and
  • The University continues to graduate the second-largest percentage of degree-holders in STEM-H fields among doctoral schools in Virginia.

"What is the common thread of these achievements? Our unbending commitment to provide education to a diverse spectrum of students and to empower them to reach the finish line," he said.

Additional achievements by faculty, staff and students included:

  • A Concert Choir performance at Carnegie Hall in New York;
  • The Monarch Marching band's performance at Disney World;
  • The University's growing partnerships with the Chrysler Museum and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra;
  • Outstanding Faculty Awards from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to Jennifer Michaeli, in engineering technology, and Anatoly Radyushkin, in physics;
  • Li Xu, of the Strome College of Business, elected to the prestigious European Academy of Sciences;
  • An award from the U.S. Department of Education of $2.1 million to Silvana Watson and other faculty in the Darden College of Education to improve English-as-a-second language instruction;
  • Continued grant funding to Robert Bruno and Patrick Sachs, in the College of Health Sciences, for their stem-cell research, which "offers hope for new therapies for cancer and tissue repair;" and
  • The performance of Adolphus Hailstork's "Fanfare on Amazing Grace" by the National Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

President Broderick noted "huge strides" in efforts to smooth the way for community college students working toward bachelor's degrees, citing more than 190 articulation agreements the University has with institutions in Virginia.

The University also strengthened existing partnerships with NASA Langley and the Wallops Island Flight facility, where a recent rocket launch included a payload designed by ODU students; the Port of Virginia, and Eastern Virginia Medical School, with whom John Catravas, a professor at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, collaborated on sepsis research that generated headlines worldwide. Also recognized was the first anniversary of the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, a joint effort with William and Mary and VIMS.

Regarding student life, President Broderick highlighted the annual Walk a Mile in her Shoes event, which drew a record 400 participants this spring, affirming the University's zero-tolerance stance on sexual and relationship violence.

"And the recent tragedy in Charlottesville makes it equally important for all of us to stand up against racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice and redouble our efforts on this campus to maintain a climate of open dialogue and respect for all on a daily basis," he said.

To read the full text of the address, visit the State of the University website.

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