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President's Corner: August 2016

As we prepare for the start of the school year, I want to introduce you to two academic leaders who joined Old Dominion University this summer.

Augustine "Austin" Agho, our new provost, and Stephanie Adams, our new dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, bring added strengths to Old Dominion while extending our commitment in areas such as community outreach and industry partnerships.

As provost and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Agho is the university's top academic officer, overseeing all of our colleges and academic departments. He came to us from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where he served as dean of the Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Dr. Agho's educational journey has taken him literally across the world and throughout the United States. He left his native Nigeria to attend Alaska Pacific University as an undergraduate. Dr. Agho later received a Ph.D. in hospital and health administration at the University of Iowa. He taught in Illinois and Florida and served as a dean at the University of Michigan-Flint before moving to Indianapolis.

But what made Dr. Agho such a compelling choice for the job was not where he's been but what he's achieved. At Florida A&M University, he was named Teacher of the Year. In Indiana, under his leadership, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences increased both research funding and minority enrollment.

And Dr. Agho spearheaded an initiative to provide pro bono medical and social services to underserved residents of Indianapolis. That kind of community interaction is central to Old Dominion's mission. I know Dr. Agho will expand the scope and breadth of our initiatives, which already range from flooding resiliency to dental hygiene.

Unlike Dr. Agho, Dr. Adams has previous experience at Old Dominion. She was here some years ago - as a 5-year-old attending kindergarten at our Child Development Center. So it was only a matter of time before she came back.

Dr. Adams received her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T, a master's in systems engineering from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering from Texas A&M. She most recently was head of the department of engineering education at Virginia Tech.

She has received more than $12 million in grants and written more than 60 scholarly publications and five book chapters. Her honors include the Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award from the National Society of Black Engineers.

As one of only a handful of female African-American engineering deans in the country, Dr. Adams sees herself as a role model, reinforcing the message: "You can do this!" Her mission is to ensure the success of all students.

She also will work to increase faculty and student partnerships with business and industry and to further encourage teamwork and collaboration among professors. That is already a hallmark of research at Old Dominion, illustrated by our work in sea level rise and flooding. With our new Resilience Collaborative, we will extend that research in fields such as health care and cybersecurity and create even more connections across academic departments.

I'm delighted to welcome Dr. Agho and Dr. Adams to campus. I have no doubt they will help Old Dominion rise to greater heights in scholarship, instruction and outreach.

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