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Two Significant Donations Give Students a Boost

Old Dominion University recently received two significant donations. In both cases, students are the big winners.

Patricia and Douglas Perry, friends and longtime supporters of Old Dominion, provided a gift to the Honors College. In appreciation of their generosity, we have named the college the Patricia and Douglas Perry Honors College.

The Honors College offers opportunities such as more demanding classes, research and community service projects, and the chance to build an e-portfolio. A recent graduate, Megan Witherow, did pioneering work in Old Dominion's Vision Lab, using a humanoid robot to examine facial expressions in students with autism. She'll keep on going in the lab because she has already begun pursuing a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering.

The Perrys' donation creates a scholarship, named for Kate and me, which will cover full tuition and room and board, as well as subsidize experiences such as study abroad. It will be awarded to honors students from Virginia based on merit.

The other gift is a $5 million donation from the Landmark Foundation. That will pay for $2,000-a-year scholarships for in-state undergraduates who demonstrate financial need. About 475 students will receive the scholarships in the next school year.

Frank Batten Jr., the president of the Landmark Foundation and former rector of Old Dominion's Board of Visitors, said the gift was in response to our Bridge the Gap campaign. We have found that even after financial aid, needy students are short an average of $1,700 a year. That forces some to bypass an occasional meal or a textbook or - in the worst case - to drop out of school.

Donations such as the Landmark Foundation's gift will help more students persist to graduation.

Both gifts are part of Old Dominion's $250 million Legacy in the Making fundraising initiative. We've already raised more than $106 million, getting the University almost halfway to its goal.

The initiative will support a variety of worthy pursuits, including faculty research and new academic centers.

But the biggest piece -- $100 million - will go toward scholarships. We are committed to providing students an affordable, first-class education. Gifts such as those from the Perrys and Landmark will allow us to make that happen for more people.

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