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Faculty Senate

Remarks on the investiture of Dr. Brian O. Hemphill
as ninth president of Old Dominion University
Friday, October 21, 2022

The Faculty congratulate Dr. Hemphill on assuming the presidency of Old Dominion University. The faculty of the university are essential participants in the development and implementation of academic policy. The faculty have comprehensive and specific competence in their fields of expertise, and the faculty are eager to contribute their expertise in the shared governance of the university. The Faculty Senate is the representative body of the faculty. As such, it exercises the authority of the faculty with respect to policy on academic matters and professional affairs of the faculty. It is in this capacity that I extend congratulations to President Hemphill on behalf of the Faculty of ODU.

The Faculty Senate has worked very hard this past year to develop an effective partnership with President Hemphill. It took a semester to stake out our respective positions. But both sides see the prudence in avoiding an adversarial relationship. It is beneficial for both sides to promote the productive collaboration. The president has initiatives that he wants to accomplish. The faculty want conditions under which they can perform the work that they are called to do. The faculty are engaged, but the President establishes the tone. We look to the president for his leadership.

Let me name very briefly three areas where we look to the president for his leadership. First, online versus face-to-face learning. Back in the days of Teletechnet ODU was one of only few institutions that invested in the equipment to offer a truly global campus. ODU parlayed its expertise in remote education to become an early adopter of hybrid & online learning. The pandemic lockdown and pivot to online instruction hastened the process. Now ODU faces competition from many quarters, and we are in a process of redefining of ODU-Global & its relationship to the residential four-year campus and to six or six-plus-year commuters. Will an online degree be the equivalent of a face-to-face degree? Can online education impart the same transformative experience as classroom and laboratory collaboration? We look to the president's leadership & expertise here.

Second, the assimilation of EVMS and the creation of an Academic Health Sciences Center. In this process the president has requested true extensive faculty representation. The president and his leadership team have the view from 30,000 feet, but the faculty - in collaboration with dozens of administrators at all levels - are figuring out how it will actually work function at the ground level.

Finally, the R1. ODU has achieved the Carnegie Classification of a Doctoral University of Very High Research Activity, the highest in the nation, commonly referred to as R1. Now we face the challenge of retaining that status, and, more importantly, of making ODU look like an R1 institution.

I would call on all parties present this morning to invest in faculty. The faculty are the core of the university. You know what it means to build a building. A building is tangible. You can see it. But consider: What will that building look like in 40 years? The career of a faculty member is as durable as a building. Some of the faculty we are searching for right now will still be at ODU in the year 2060.

Mr. President, the Faculty look forward to continuing to work with you, now on the eve of ODU's second century as an institution of higher education, for the transformative experience of a university education, and as a center for the advancement of knowledge through scientific research.

Michael Carhart, Chair of the Faculty Senate

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