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Institute for the HumanitiesAbout Us

Learn more about the Institute for the Humanities at ODU

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We are a collaborative research and social innovation incubator in the College of Arts and Letters at Old Dominion University. We help foster synergies among activists, artists, scholars, engaged global citizens, and local community stakeholders who are searching for entrepreneurial ways to reshape people's lives. We have a particular commitment to social justice, social entrepreneurship, community engagement, design thinking, cultural studies, and the digital and medical humanities.

Above all else, we are humanists, which means that we believe that people - when given access to critical tools, skills, and literacies - can become agents of transformation in our society. We serve as stewards of such critical sensibilities, seeking creative, innovative, and multidisciplinary opportunities to engage students, serve our communities, and participate as citizens. In short, we aim to provide future leaders in the arts, the humanities and in public service with the toolkit and training they need to become social innovators and implement sustainable change.

One of the ways we accomplish these goals is through our interdisciplinary Masters' degree (MA) program in the Humanities. To learn more about the MA, please click here.

We also serve as a key community outreach and engagement arm for the University, sponsoring and hosting an array of speakers, performers, and public forums as part of our Humanities in Hampton Roads initiative. To learn more about our programming, please click here.


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Our students come from diverse backgrounds and pursue innovative interdisciplinary research. Here are a few examples:

Meghan Morris: Class of 2020

Interests: Gender and sexuality studies, media and popular culture, queer and feminist critique, American studies. Research Assistant for Humanities Behind Bars and volunteer with the Tidewater Queer History Project.

Megan Palko: Class of 2020

Interests: Critical Race Studies, Feminist Studies, Gender Based Activism, Queer Studies, Interfaith understanding. Graduate Research Assistant, for the Institute for the Humanities and Strome Entrepreneurial Center.

Nathan Workman: Class of 2020

Interests: Masculinity and American studies, employing feminist and Queer methodologies and community outreach. Research Assistant for Women's Studies and Gay Cultural Studies and volunteer archivist for the Tidewater Queer History Project.


Stephanie Hawthorne: Class of 2018

Interests: digital technology in the museum. Experience: exhibit design, research, archives, and collection.

Lily Kunda: Class of 2018

Interests: Media Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Celebrity Studies, Mass Communications, Critical Race Studies, Cultural Studies, African-American Studies, Black Entrepreneurship. Assistant to Communications Coordinator for ODU Libraries.



Mod Sim Spine

Our alumni have gone on to do some amazing things. Here is a small sampling:


Fred Bayersdorfer

Alison Byrne

Eleanor Earl


Barbara Laws

Kirk Richardson

Justin Sprague



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Faculty Advisory Board

Our Faculty Advisory board helps coordinate course offerings and interdisciplinary research across the university.


Kimberly Adams-Tufts

Kimberly Adams-Tufts

Kimberly Adams-Tufts

Associate Dean of Interpersonal Education, College of Health Sciences, ODU


Michael Allen

Michael Allen

Michael Allen

Assistant Professor, Political Science & Geography, ODU

Area of research:

At the intersection of social and physical sciences, my research explores the impact of weather and climate on society with particular emphasis on climate change, extreme temperature environments, and human health outcomes.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

In April 2016, aspects of my research were discussed in National Geographic.

Humanities = ?:

The study of humans - our values, experiences, and perspectives - that help shape our understanding of the world not as independent silos of disciplinary approaches but as interconnected webs of inquiry.


Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson

Associate Professor Communication & Theatre Arts, ODU


Michelle Covi

Michelle Covi

Michelle Covi

Asst Professor of Practice Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, ODU

I am faculty of practice in Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a Virginia Sea Grant extension partner. I research climate adaptation and resilience, specifically risk perception, communication and community engagement. I am also involved in projects with partners on environmental education and environmental justice. I worked with a great interdisciplinary team here at ODU that recently did community engagement in Virginia Beach we are really proud of.


Roderick Graham

Roderick Graham

Roderick Graham

Assistant Professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice, ODU

Area of research:

I study how life is lived in the digital environment. I explore racial inequality online and cybercrime.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Helping to establish the cybercrime program here at ODU.

Humanities = ?: Humanities = Thiamin Use. It plays a critical role in cultural metabolism and therefore, in the growth, development, and function of society.


Elizabeth Groeneveld

Elizabeth Groeneveld

Elizabeth Groeneveld

Assistant Professor, Women's Studies, ODU

Elizabeth Groeneveld teaches feminist media studies and studies the relationships between social movements and media production. She is the author of Making Feminist Media: Third-Wave Magazines on the Cusp of the Digital Age (Laurier University Press, 2016) and co-editor, with Samantha C. Thrift, of "Beyond Backlash: Remediating 1980s Activisms" for a special issue of Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies (2018).


Christopher Hanna

Christopher Hanna

Christopher Hanna

Professor & Theatre Director, Communication & Theatre Arts, ODU

Christopher Hanna is a professor and Director of the Theatre at Old Dominion University. He also serves as Artistic Director Emeritus at Virginia Stage Company, where he has directed over thirty productions in the Company's history. He served on the founding faculty of the Governor's School of the Arts and is a past recipient of the Cultural Alliance's Artistic Leadership Award. Outside Hampton Roads, Chris has served as Resident Director for the Juilliard School's Drama Division and Artistic Associate of the Chautauqua Theater Company. He has served on the Graduate faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and in the play development departments of both the New York Shakespeare Festival and London's Royal Court Theater. He holds an MFA from the University of California, San Diego, and is a member of the professional director's union, Society of Directors and Choreographers.

Area of research:

I'm a professional stage director specializing in developing new plays and reimagining classics.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

My production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which reopened the Wells Theatre after major renovations, was one of the proudest of my life.

Humanities = ?:

The humanities are what keep us honest as humans.


Michael Hucles

Michael Hucles

Michael Hucles

Associate Professor, History, ODU


Luisa Igloria

Luisa Igloria

Luisa Igloria

Professor, English, ODU

Born in Makati and raised in Baguio City, Filipina, American poet Luisa A. Igloria earned a BA at the University of the Philippines Baguio, an MA at Ateneo de Manila University, and a PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for which she received a Fulbright grant. Her early work was published under the name Maria Luisa Aguilar-Cariño. She is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (2018), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (2014), and The Saints of Streets (2013). Since 2010, Igloria has written a new poem every day, a practice she shares on the literary blog Via Negativa. From 2009 to 2015, Igloria directed the graduate program in creative writing at Old Dominion University. In 2018 she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University.

Area of research:

MFA Creative Writing Program: Poetry

Areas of teaching:

Introduction to Creative Writing, Undergraduate and Graduate Poetry Workshops, Undergraduate and Graduate Craft courses, Asian American Literature, Creative Writing Pedagogy, Hybrid Explorations in Creative Writing

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Winner of the 2015 (inaugural) Resurgence Poetry Prize (UK), the world's first Ecopoetry prize.

Humanities = ?:

A web of necessary interconnections.


Elliott Jones

Elliott Jones

Elliott Jones

Associate Professor, Department of Art, ODU

Area of research:

My work in painting and drawing deals with narrative themes through which I attempt to convey symbolic messages about the paradoxes of despair and hope, struggle and transcendence. I teach primarily upper level painting and drawing classes.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Recently recognized for 25 years of service on the faculty of Old Dominion University. Work exhibited in NOW: African-American Artists of Tidewater Exhibition, a juried invitational, May 6 to June 18, 2017 at The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center in Hampton.

Humanities = ?:

The Humanities deals with the human experience. In my work, I attempt to breakdown boundaries or barriers that might divide us and call attention to our connectedness and our shared humanity.


Jennifer Kidd

Jennifer Kidd

Jennifer Kidd

Senior Lecturer, Teaching & Learning, ODU


MaryCatherine McDonald

MaryCatherine McDonald

MaryCatherine McDonald

Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies, ODU


Connie Merriman

Connie Merriman

Connie Merriman

ASSOC DEAN, UNDERGRAD PROGRAMS, Strome College of Business, ODU


Kevin Moberly

Kevin Moberly

Kevin Moberly

Associate Professor, English, ODU


Anne Muraoka

Anne Muraoka

Associate Professor, Department of Art, ODU

Area of research:

Dr. Muraoka teaches courses on Renaissance and Baroque art, and specializes in Counter-Reformation art. Her research centers on the nexus of religion and literary and visual theory in mid-late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century Italy.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Dr. Muraoka was the 2018 recipient of the Robert L. Stern Award in Excellence in Teaching.


Douglas T. Owens

Douglas T. Owens

Douglas T. Owens

Associate Professor, Department of Music, ODU

Area of research:

Dr. Owens teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education, continues to do research in music education, musician's health and music entrepreneurship, is the director of the ODU Jazz Orchestra, and serves as the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Music.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Dr. Owens recently served as the Chair of the Department of Music.

Humanities = ?:

Part of a well-rounded education.


Allison Page

Allison Page

Allison Page

Assistant Professor, Communication & Theatre Arts, ODU

Area of research:

My research focuses on how U.S. media provide templates for racialized citizenship and subjectivity. In particular, I am interested in how emotion, produced by media's pedagogical use of the history of slavery, becomes a powerful site through which to shape and manage race.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

I won an Honorable Mention in the University of Minnesota's 2017 Best Dissertation competition.

Humanities = ?:

Humanities = essential. And needed more than ever.


Delores Phillips

Delores Phillips

Delores Phillips

Associate Professor, English, ODU

Area of research:

Dr. Phillips's research in postcolonial literature and theory focuses on food and waste.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

Her work with the Hampton Roads chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local has yielded a mobile app that maps the local food system.

Humanities = ?:

Humanities = justice. Our movement through the world entails ethical entanglements that we don't even realize. The humanities calls upon us to step softly, to move kindly, and to weigh our actions and their consequence. Even our smallest gestures can be kind or cruel to someone we may never know in a far-flung locale we will never visit, living a life we cannot imagine. The Humanities helps us understand their weight, helps us know those lives (human or otherwise), and opens us to the full range of our responsibilities and our rights as humans in the world.


Alison Reed

Alison Reed

Alison Reed

Assistant Professor, English, ODU

Alison Reed's teaching and research areas emphasize how performance cultures protest unlivable political realities while shaping new visions of collective social life. She co-founded and directs Humanities Behind Bars, a prison education program committed to abolitionist praxis. Her community organizing background invigorates her belief that the arts and humanities play a vital role in grassroots movement-building work.


Cathleen Rhodes

Cathleen Rhodes

Cathleen Rhodes

Senior Lecturer, Women's Studies, ODU

Cathleen Rhodes teaches for the Department of Women's Studies, specializing in Queer Studies and Queer Literature and is the founder of the Tidewater Queer History Project, a community-based organization that works to celebrate and preserve local LGBTQ history through storytelling and archival research. Rhodes is currently working with TQHP volunteers and ODU students to develop a series of queer walking tours throughout Norfolk.


Kerstin Steitz

Kerstin Steitz

Kerstin Steitz

Assistant Professor, World Languages & Cultures, ODU

Area of research:

My research and teaching focus on German-Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Law and Literature, and Gender Studies. Currently, I am completing my book on literary and filmic engagements with the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-1965).

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

The Jewish Museum in Berlin invited me this summer to present my current research project on "queering the Holocaust" in Jill Soloway's series Transparent.

Humanities = ?:

Humanities = Engage with the World


Nicole Willock

Nicole Willock

Nicole Willock

Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies, ODU

Nicole Willock (Ph.D. Indiana University Bloomington, Tibetan Studies and Religious Studies, 2011) is an assistant professor of Asian Religions in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department. She is a 2017 Research Fellow of The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), for her book project: Lineages of the Literary: Tibetan Buddhist Scholars Making Modern China. This project analyzes the writings of three Tibetan Buddhist intellectuals (Tseten Zhabdrung, Dungkar Rinpoche, and Muge Samten) through the lens of post-colonial and post-structuralist theories to challenge normative assumptions on religious subjects, state-driven secularization, and moral agency in China. For Dr. Willock, "Humanities = cultural competence in today's globally-interconnected world".

At Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, she teaches World Religions, Buddhism, and Religions of China and Tibet. Her publications include: "The Revival of the Tulku Institution in Modern China: Narratives and Practices," in Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines 28 (Feb. 2017) on "The Tulku (sprul sku) Institution in Tibetan Buddhism" edited by Daniel Hirshberg, Derek Maher, and Tsering Wangchuk, and "Dorjé Tarchin, the Mélong, and the Tibet Mirror Press: Negotiating Discourse on the Religious and the Secular in Tibet," in Himalaya, the Journal of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies 36.1 (2016). Since 2011, she has served as a Tibet and Himalaya Panel Steering Committee member for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and as an Academic Advisory Board member for the Treasury of Lives: Biographical Encyclopedia digital project.


Wie Yusef

Wie Yusef

Wie Yusef

Associate Professor, Public Service, ODU

Area of research:

My research focuses on policy issues that exist at the intersections of government, nonprofits, business, and society such as adaptation and resilience to sea level rise, tolling and related transportation finance issues, and government transparency and accountability. I teach a variety of courses in the MPA curriculum such as public budgeting and finance, performance measurement and management, transportation policy and planning, and government, society and business.

Highlighted recent accomplishment:

I chair the Career Pathways program that provides university-wide professional development for graduate students. I am proud that we just launched, in August 2017, the Preparing Future Professionals Certificate under the Career Pathways program.



diverse-humanities-image

Friends of the Humanities

Our Friends of the Humanities board keeps us connected with critical issues in Hampton Roads and helps us build partnerships that result in internships, research opportunities, and job connections for our students.


Terrance Afer-Anderson

Terrance Afer-Anderson

Terrance Afer-Anderson

TerraVizion Entertainment Network

Selected accomplishments:

  1. Commissioner, Norfolk Commission on the Arts & Humanities;
  2. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader Fellow;
  3. Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads ALLI Award;
  4. Exemplar Award for Community Excellence, Hampton Roads Gazeti;
  5. PHEN Award, Prostate Health Education Network;
  6. African-American Leadership Award, United Way of South Hampton Roads;
  7. Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum Community Advisory Board;
  8. past Marketing Manager, Smithsonian Institution, past Promotions Director, Time-Life, Inc., past 1st Vice-President, Washington, DC Chapter, Special Interest Video Association.

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

Bearing witness to rapid technological advances that appear to outpace human emotional, social and spiritual development, as well as an increasingly vulnerable environment that finds many in denial, I fear it is apparent that our humanity is showing signs of fraying at the edges. It is during times like these that the potential and magnificence of human nature need be made manifest. The humanities afford us such an opportunity via diverse, potent platforms that afford us the occasion to record and process our development. Philosophy, art, music, history, literature, language and religion provide us with critical, intrinsically valuable tools to take an objective, unobtrusive look at who and where we are and how we can best connect with the very essence of our being, our irrepressible spirit.


Alison Byrne

Alison Byrne

Alison Byrne

Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

Alison Byrne is the Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Virginia Beach where she oversees the strategic vision and integration of MOCA's exhibitions and educational programs. Byrne organizes the curation of exhibitions featuring the work of national, international and regional artists, the development of exhibition design and interpretation, educational program curricula and creation of partnerships both within the local community and the national and international art community.

Byrne and her team work each day to make MOCA a vibrant, relevant and essential community resource through the creation of thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programming that spark dialogue and creativity. Her recent curatorial projects include the traveling exhibition Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose and the first solo exhibition in the United States by British artist Barnaby Barford, which toured internationally to Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Byrne, who has over a decade of museum experience, received her Master of Arts in Humanities with a concentration on Art History from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and her Bachelor of Design in Craft Design from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland. She has juried many exhibitions and shows including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Visual Art Fellowships and the Sidewalk Art Show at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.


Lesa C. Clark

Lesa C. Clark

Lesa C. Clark

Executive Director, Office of Intercultural Relations, ODU

Lesa Clark currently serves as the Executive Director for the Office of Intercultural Relations, commonly known as OIR, at Old Dominion University. With her team, OIR creates learning and cultural opportunities that promotes an inclusive and equitable university culture that values and celebrates the diversity and identities of all university members. As a strategic visionary, her commitment has resulted in the development and implementation of hundreds of programs, activities, and events that prepares students for global participation and leadership that incorporates regional, national and global perspectives. She is currently developing a training resource that focus on cultural humility as the framework for cultural competency.

Having served clients within the corporate, educational, non-profit, and faith communities, her role as a consultant has resulted in training services designed to develop internal skills required for authentic cross-cultural engagement. Her published work focus on cultural learning styles and its impact within the learning environment. As a PH.D. candidate in the Chicago School of Psychology and a certified Cultural Intelligence practitioner, her research and passion centers around positive organizational leadership and organizational effectiveness that integrates and sustains diversity, inclusion, and equity within organizational and societal structures.


Mekbib Gemeda

Mekbib Gemeda

Mekbib Gemeda

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Selected accomplishments:

Engaged for over a decade in national and local efforts in enhancing diversity and inclusion in biomedicine and reducing health disparities. Mentored hundreds of students into graduate and professional education. Involved in developing a robust NIH supported biomedical research center and nationally recognized faculty and graduate student recruitment and retention and community engagement initiatives at Hunter College of the City University of New York and New York University School of Medicine. Involved in developing the largest national online network of minorities in science, justgarciahill.org.

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

There has not been a time when reflecting on the human experience has had greater value and urgency. The tremendous speed of production of knowledge and a digital, truncated nature of communication that has further compounded the amount of information and its dissemination, and novel territories of exploration including artificial intelligence and genetic engineering that present new ethical challenges demand a humanities lens to process and provide context that would ground us towards social justice and equity.


Nancy L. Grden

Nancy L. Grden, MRP, MBA

Nancy L. Grden, MRP, MBA

Executive Director, ODU Strome Entrepreneurial Center

Selected accomplishments:

  • First Executive Director, ODU Strome Entrepreneurial Center
  • Co-Founder and former General Manager, Genomind, Inc., a neuroscience biotech company
  • Chief Development/Marketing Exec - Amerigroup/now Anthem, ValueOptions/now Beacon Health, NationsBank/now BankofAmerica
  • Board member - 757 Angels Group, U of South Carolina Faber Entrepreneurial Center, Kempsville HS Entrepreneurship Academy, Others
  • Appointed to VA Governor's Commission on Youth Entrepreneurship

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

The Humanities is an essential ingredient to spark and sustain innovation, alone and in combination with other disciplines such as science and technology. For example, approaches to problem-solving and innovation, such as design thinking, combine the humanities with technology as a foundation.


Barbara Hamm Lee

Barbara Hamm Lee

Barbara Hamm Lee

Executive Producer & Host of Another View

Barbara Hamm Lee is the Executive Producer and Host of Another View, a weekly call in talk show that "discusses today's issues from an African American perspective." She is also the owner of Sharing Info, LLC., a media/communications consulting company. She has held the position of Project Director for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters' African American Public Radio Stations Initiative, consulting with 26 African American public radio stations on compliance, governance, development, programming and community engagement. For eleven years, Barbara held a variety of leadership positions with WHRO Public Media.

Prior to her work with WHRO, Barbara held management positions with Communications Technologies, Inc.; Prince Georges County, Maryland Police Department and Hamm and Fox Communications. Most of Barbara's career has been spent in television news management including News Director for WTKR-TV in Norfolk, VA; KYW-TV, Philadelphia; WJLA-TV, Washington, D.C.; Black Entertainment Television; WJZ-TV and WBAL-TV, Baltimore, Maryland. She has also served as an adjunct journalism professor for Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University.

Barbara currently serves as Chair, YWCA, South Hampton Roads Board of Directors; Former Chair, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; Immediate Past Chair of the Norfolk Education Foundation Board of Directors; and board member of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), Governor's School for the Arts Foundation Board and Bennett College Alumnae Association, Tidewater Chapter.

Barbara has been recognized for her work in the community, including being named by the YWCA-SHR as a 2010 Woman of Distinction; a Woman of Courage, Confidence and Character Award and a Famous Former Girl Scout Award, both from the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast; the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Humanitarian Award; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award, both from the Urban League of Hampton Roads.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Barbara is married to Maxie Lee, has a daughter, step-daughter and a granddaughter, and loves to spend time with family and friends. She is a graduate of Bennett College (Summa Cum Laude), and attends First Baptist Church, Berkley.


Howard H. Hoege III

Howard H. Hoege III

Howard H. Hoege III

President & CEO, The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Selected accomplishments:

  • BS, United States Military Academy, West Point, 1994;
  • JD, University of Virginia School of Law, 2002;
  • LLM, The Judge Advocate General's School, 2006
  • Infantry Officer, US Army, 1994-2002
  • US Army Ranger School, 1995
  • Iraq War Veteran 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 2003-2004
  • Counsel, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, 2009-2010
  • Assistant Dean, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Univ. of Virginia, 2010-2014

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

Technological advancements in transportation and communication thrust individuals from different cultures into contact with one another more than ever before. In the face of superficial differences that seem, on the surface, to divide us, the humanities can teach us how we are, in fact, connected to one another.


Kelly Jackson

Kelly Jackson

Kelly Jackson


Arthur Knight

Arthur Knight

Arthur Knight

Associate Professor of American Studies & English, College of William & Mary

Selected accomplishments:

Author of numerous works on the history of African Americans and American Cinema, including the book, Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film (Duke UP 2002). Co-founder of the History of Moviegoing, Exhibition, and Reception (HoMER) Network and founder and co-director the Williamsburg Documentary Project at the College of William & Mary. Research fellow at Stanford Humanities Institute, 2002-03; current fellow at William & Mary's Center for the Liberal Arts; board member, William & Mary Libraries.

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

The humanities are INvaluable in the 21st Century! The humanities' attention to multi-perspectival analysis, to questions of and arguments over value, to historical thinking (across field), to engaged interpretation of all sorts of cultural materials, to critical empathy, and to communication are more important than ever.


Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus

Director of Family Learning, Ohef Sholom Temple

Selected accomplishments:

Founding Director of nationally recognized public health education programs, The Troubadours Educational Teen Theater (Northern Kentucky District Health Department), Cincinnati Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI) Teen Leadership program (Cincinnati Childrens Hospital), Rockdale School-based Health Center, and A Cincinnati Black-Jewish Youth Experience; Ohio Attorney with a concentration in criminal defense with public Defender office; published author of professional journal articles on the legal rights of minors, and the theology of psychodrama; and adjunct faculty in Religion and Jewish Education for Union Institute and University, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Education: Masters in Theological Studies from The Harvard Divinity School, program in Religion and Secondary Education; Juris Doctorate from Chase College of Law

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

What makes us human is our striving to make ourselves and our world a better place. As the ancient biblical command implores us, Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, "Justice, Justice shall you pursue it." (Deut. 16:20) Like Moses on Mt. Nebo, we may not get to the promised land, but our humanity allows us to see what it might look like, and pursue it.


J.R. Locke

J.R. Locke

J.R. Locke

Director of Development, Hampton University

J.R. Locke is Director of Development at Hampton University. Mr. Locke is the former Executive Director of the Hampton University Business Incubator. He is also the founding President/CEO of EBM (Executive Board Management) and Diversity Consulting.

Mr. Locke earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Organization from Idaho State University. He has extensive corporate sales and management experience in the insurance and mining manufacturing industries. Responsibilities included managing territories up to $50 million in equipment sales.

Mr. Locke was twice elected chairman of the United Way of South Hampton Roads Minority Advisory Council, a two-term member of the United Way Board of Directors for six years and is the lead architect and Director of the United Way of South Hampton Roads National Diversity Award Winning "Project Inclusion Leadership Development Program". A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Mr. Locke was appointed in 2004 by Governor Mark Warner to a four-year term to the State Regulatory Board of Directors for the Board of Physical Therapy. He was reappointed by Governor Tim Kaine to serve another four-year term from 2008-2012. Mr. Locke served a six-year term on the State Board of Directors for the American Lung Association of Virginia and former member of the Executive Board for the award winning "American Red Cross Blood Donor Diversity Task Force."

Mr. Locke is the current President of the E-D Golf Tour, two-time past President of the Eastside Community Development Corporation and past President of the Board for the Southeast Junior Golf Academy. He has provided keynote remarks for both corporate and non-profit organizations on Leadership, Teamwork, and Diversity & Inclusion. Mr. Locke has three sons and a daughter and currently resides in Newport News with his wife Dr. Elizabeth Locke.


Aprilfaye T. Manalang

Dr. Aprilfaye T. Manalang

Dr. Aprilfaye T. Manalang

Assistant Professor, Norfolk State University

Selected accomplishments:

Nominated by department for the prestigious Virginia State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty, "Rising Star" Award: "The Outstanding Faculty Awards are the Commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. These awards recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service," Fall 2016

+Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow

+Georg-Bollenbeck Fellow, University of Siegen

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

"That epistemic humility, that constant encounter with other methods, others ways of questioning, can push us to new insights, a willingness to work together in new ways...Diversity, when well nourished, is the mother of wonder."

David Nirenberg, Dean, Division of Social Sciences


Diana Obeid

Diana Obeid

Diana Obeid

Instructor of Arabic, Co-Director of Middle East and North Africa Studies, Christopher Newport University

Diana Obeid is an instructor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and a founding co-director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies program at Christopher Newport University. She also teaches at Christopher Newport University's Lifelong Learning Society, has taught a variety of courses in Arab studies and the humanities, and presented papers in academic conferences. Her research focuses on the Modern Middle East, Arab prison literature, women and gender issues in the Arab World, and translation studies.

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

Alas, how much are we in need today of people who think critically, who pause and watch the world around them, who appreciate what they see and love with their hearts as well as their minds. The world needs people who would further their knowledge for the betterment of mankind and not for material gain or profit. The Humanities help create these informed citizens. The humanities teaches interpersonal skills, improves the "theories of the mind," the value of the intellect, and most importantly it teaches one how to lead a richer and more significant life. In other words, it teaches a human being how to be human.


Angela D. Reddix

Angela D. Reddix, Ph.D

Angela D. Reddix, Ph.D

• Founder, President and CEO of ARDX • Founder of Envision Lead Grow • Founder & CEO of the ARDX Foundation • Founder & President of XDRA Health Solutions, LLC

Dr. Angela D. Reddix is a visionary and innovative thinker with global perspective and entrepreneurial drive. As a passionate mentor and advisor to the next generation of young girls and women, Dr. Angela is a leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world.

Dr. Angela Reddix's unique ability to inspire greatness through the lessons of her own story earned her the 2017 Women of Achievement Award, presented by Old Dominion University. As a trusted community leader, Dr. Reddix resides as a board member and trustee to various local organizations including the United Way of South Hampton Roads Foundation Board of Trustees, YWCA Board of Directors, Junior Achievement Board of Directors, Kempsville Entrepreneurship Academy Board of Advisors, Norfolk State University School of Business Advisory Board, and the Hampton Roads Chamber Regional and Trustee Board.

As a lifelong learner, Dr. Angela received her bachelor's degree in Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University, a master's degree in Organizational Development from Bowie State University with a focus on Training, a graduate certificate in Healthcare Compliance from The George Washington University, and her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Angela was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and has a husband and three children.

Thoughts on the Value of Humanities in the 21st Century:

The Humanities form the foundation for a spirit of inclusion, which is essential for creating powerful and lasting enterprises with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.


Joan L. Rhodes-Copeland

Joan L. Rhodes-Copeland

Joan L. Rhodes-Copeland

Executive Director, Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads

Selected accomplishments:

  • Author of two books:
    • DIRECTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA, published by Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia, 2001
    • SECRETARIAL PRACTICE FOR THE ELECTRONIC OFFICE, co-author with Rita Kutie; John Wiley & Sons, 1986
  • Panelist, 2017 for Virginia Commission for the Arts on topic, State of the Arts, to honor their 50 years
  • Additionally, a panelist on the Arts Grants Review Committee, 2016, 2015
  • Owner, Art Atrium II Gallery, Portsmouth, VA (1996-2003)
  • B.S. degree from Norfolk State University and M.A. degree from Columbia University in Business Education

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

I believe that the humanities exposes a person to the many forms of arts and social sciences. They can then utilize these creative resources and creative thinking skills, gained from the various fields included in the humanities and arts, to solve community, human and social problems.


Cullen B. Strawn

Cullen Strawn

Cullen Strawn

Executive Director for the Arts, Old Dominion University

Selected accomplishments:

Cullen Strawn holds a BMus in performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as MA and PhD degrees in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Hailing from an extended family of musicians, he has recorded and performed on a wide range of instruments including donso ngoni, kora, soku, jenbe, and balani (West African strings and percussion), fretless banjo and bass, fiddle, saxophones, and guitars in traditional and popular genres.

Cullen has won major fellowships and grants including the Fulbright-IIE and Fulbright-Hays for ethnographic field research on aspects of arts and culture in the United States and West Africa. In addition to working as an audio technician, software developer, and managing editor of the Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis (EVIA) Digital Archive, he has served as curator at the Musical Instrument Museum and consulted for major arts and educational organizations including Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Arts. At Old Dominion University, Cullen oversees public-facing initiatives spanning the arts.

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

Expressive culture reflecting the human experience exists where and when there are people. Whether inherited or chosen, factors such as race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, class, sex, gender, and generation result in a broad range of experience and expression, and the humanities excel at embracing such diverse and complex realities. Fostering community, understanding, and positive change are strengths of the humanities in today's world.


Cecelia Tucker

Cecilia Tucker

Cecilia Tucker


Jonathan C. Zur

Jonathan C. Zur

Jonathan C. Zur

President & CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

Selected accomplishments:

  • Recipient, FBI Director's Community Leadership Award (2017);
  • Presenter, White House Summit on Diversity & Inclusion in Government (2016);
  • Recipient, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award (2016);
  • Finalist, Richmond Times-Dispatch Person of the Year (2015)

In your opinion, what is the value of humanities in the 21st century?

We sadly see examples every day of injustices, division, and conflict in our society. The humanities provide lessons and solutions through the development of critical thinking and the building of empathy and understanding.




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Presidential Inauguration

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