[ skip to content ]

President's Corner: July 2019

These days, higher education is having a rough time in the media - between college admissions scandals and allegations of sexual discrimination and assault.

But Old Dominion and many other universities should be celebrated for doing some important things right. One of them happened recently.

Thousands of people across the country received diplomas, including 3,500 at Old Dominion. For some of them, particularly first-generation and low-income graduates, their success will trigger a financial ripple that will be felt for generations. This ripple effect, called social and economic mobility, can be life-changing.

Fortunately, policymakers and education leaders are starting to focus on the need to provide more access and support for such students. Last month, Old Dominion and Virginia's State Council of Higher Education sponsored the second annual National Symposium on Social Mobility, which included three days of talks and frank data exchanges with leaders from across the country, including Virginia and Maryland.

What can we do increase the momentum toward social mobility?

First, colleges and universities as well as business and industry must adopt intrusive advising to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for their college journey as early as elementary school. They also must encourage parents to get more involved in the quest for higher education, even those who never had that experience.

Old Dominion hopes to do that in conjunction with Newport News Shipyard and Huntington Ingalls at Brooks Crossing, which will open this summer. This facility - with state and private sector investment - will provide a variety of ways to immerse young people in the technologies surrounding digital shipbuilding in a fun learning environment. And it will allow parents and guardians to participate in the discovery with their children.

I'm proud of the strategies for success we have employed on our campus. Old Dominion's chapter of the Brother 2 Brother program, in which African-American and Latino students tutor one another and act as a support group, has yielded strong results: Participants have a higher GPA than students who are not part of this program. Our Learn and Earn Advantage Program, or LEAP, places work-study students - who often have the highest financial need - in campus jobs that prepare them for their careers. They also take a class for employment skills and connect with alumni in their fields. The program has recorded an impressive 98 percent student retention rate.

Finally, states and the federal government can accelerate this momentum by finding more ways to fund institutions that are serving low-income and Pell-eligible students.

A broader commitment to social mobility would truly make education the great equalizer in reducing the circle of poverty.

Site Navigation

Presidential Inauguration

ODU commemorated the inauguration of President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., during Homecoming Weekend 2022. Relive the historic weekend.

Fall Open House

It's time to fall in love with ODU! Join us for our last Open House event of the semester on Saturday, November 19.

Commencement 2022

Visit the Commencement Office for information on event times, caps & gowns, tickets and more!