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President's Corner: May 2017

This is the time of year when students see the payoff from their hard work and we get to share the euphoria of thousands of graduates in caps and gowns, waving with pride to their loved ones.

Our commencement exercises last weekend provided the familiar moments of joy and inspiration, with a new twist.

For the first time, we held four graduation ceremonies. That was because this year we launched a ceremony just for recipients of master's and doctoral degrees.

The Advanced Degree Ceremony allowed us to spotlight the success of our graduate students. It also provided room in all four ceremonies for graduates to share the special occasion with plenty of family members and friends.

Our nearly 3,000 degree recipients represent countless stories of achievement, ingenuity and perseverance. Here are just a few:

Lamar Giles, who received a master of fine arts degree, writes novels for young adults. With the publication of his latest work, "Overturned," he became the first person to receive a positive review in The New York Times - no small feat - while studying creative writing at Old Dominion.

Dexter Warren, a single father and physical education teacher in Isle of Wight County, took evening classes at our Tri-Cities Center in Portsmouth to earn a master's degree in educational leadership. Reflecting Old Dominion's region-wide reach, Warren was assisted by a scholarship from the Institute for Learning in Retirement, which is based at our Virginia Beach Center.

Blake Steiner, who received his bachelor's degree in biology, has channeled his passion for environmental study into research projects with professors in two colleges - the Batten College of Engineering and Technology and the College of Sciences. In April, Steiner won the best oral presentation award at the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council Conference.

Finally, I'm happy to report that a leading education organization recently recognized Old Dominion's success in graduating students. Old Dominion was one of 18 universities cited by Education Trust for a strong track record in graduating African-American students.

Our faculty members and administrators are dedicated to helping all students reach the finish line at graduation. And we're eager to start the process once again when a new group of freshmen joins us in August.

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