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President's Corner: February 2016

Last week Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke at the Ted as part of the President's Lecture Series. After her speech, she answered questions from audience members, some challenging, others supporting her viewpoint.

The event showcased not only the university's role in engaging the local community in thoughtful discussion of topical issues from all sides, but also our eagerness to listen to and support our students. The idea to host Ms. Garza came from an officer of the Student Government Association. She made her case, and we helped bring this national speaker to campus.

This typifies the collaborative relationship we seek to foster with students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. We can move forward most productively when we know where all the stakeholders are coming from and are open to learning from one another.

That doesn't mean the discussions are always easy or that all parties immediately reach agreement. But I believe we need to work together whenever possible for the greater good of the university and the communities in which we live.

Perhaps one of Old Dominion's most significant responses to the commonwealth's needs was the creation of the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative in 2010. We have followed up on other suggestions, holding food drives and veterans health fairs and expanding academic summer camps. In addition, we have sponsored free dental clinics and hosted the Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women to promote STEM education.

We've also acted on other recommendations from students. Last fall I created a panel of students to solicit and coordinate ideas on the issues of diversity and inclusion. And this semester, the university revised its policy on course syllabuses to give students a better sense of faculty expectations.

In this spirit of communication, I encourage you to let us know your ideas on ways to better serve you.

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