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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU to Receive $10 Million Gift from Strome Family Foundation to Support Entrepreneurship

Old Dominion University's vision of nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship among its students that would serve to foster economic development in the Hampton Roads region and beyond will be aided significantly by a planned $10 million gift from the Strome Family Foundation to the College of Business and Public Administration, ODU President John R. Broderick announced in his annual State of the University Address.

The gift will be used by ODU, in alignment with the foundation's wishes, to establish an entrepreneurial curriculum that would be available to students across the university and include an introduction to entrepreneurship course. There is also an expectation that co-curricular programming be created in conjunction with the gift. This would include creation of a centralized entrepreneurial center, as well as lectures, competitions and mentorships, among other initiatives.

In developing a full continuum of entrepreneurial opportunities, ODU is addressing a critical need identified by the on- and off-campus community, while answering a national call for the creation of jobs. This will not only produce the next generation of CEOs, but also help teachers, administrators, nurses, not-for-profit directors and many others across a spectrum of careers to think and act more creatively.

"The generosity of the Strome family will further position ODU as a bright beacon for future leaders of business and industry," Broderick said. "Entrepreneurs are uniquely challenged and need to master specialized skill sets in order to be successful in the highly competitive and ever-changing free market landscape. The initiatives this gift supports will provide the necessary tools for innovators to develop new ideas into reality, stay ahead of the pack and grow a vibrant national economy."

The Strome Family Foundation is led by Mark and Tammy Strome, of Santa Monica, Calif. Mark Strome is the Chief Investment Officer for Strome Group and Strome Investment Management LP. Tammy Strome is a psychologist who is involved in local and international philanthropic projects related to education.

Mark Strome is a 1978 graduate of ODU, where he received a bachelor's in civil engineering. In 1998, the university conferred on him an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of his long-time support of ODU's mission.

"We all have a personal ideological predisposition on what should be taught at B schools based on our family and life experiences. Mine would lie in favor of entrepreneurs over bureaucrats, especially public sector bureaucrats," Mark Strome said. "There is ample evidence, worldwide, that entrepreneurial activity creates jobs, empowers individuals, revitalizes communities and enhances our collective well-being while being very effective at durably healing and preventing social problems. America leads the world in our standard of living because of its entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial culture.

"We hope to build upon the business school's core competencies and to introduce the availability of entrepreneurial studies to other disciplines within the university," he continued. "Many of the entrepreneurs of tomorrow will come from passions other than just business and we would like to help equip them with the tools to express themselves in entrepreneurial ventures."

Nancy Grden, general manager of Genomind, LLC, and chair of the executive advisory council for ODU's College of Business and Public Administration, said the Strome gift represents a "huge testament" to how the university is viewed.

"ODU is really seen as a regional resource and not just an institute of higher learning," Grden said. "This gift will help leverage and launch economic development and entrepreneurial programs in the region and is a resource we can all call our own. It is evident to me that the business community, students and government view ODU as a gem in the region. This will allow for a major leadership role for ODU in entrepreneurism."

Zack Miller, managing director of Hatch, a Norfolk-based organization that serves as a business accelerator offering mentoring and consultancy services to startup companies, said the gift and ODU's associated plans mark "a huge step forward."

"Having an entrepreneurial center is something that will continue to put us on par or above other markets in the country," he said. "This market has always had strong entrepreneurs and successful companies, and now a leading university that will continue to push the limits on entrepreneurship and make the city even stronger."

Old Dominion University is Virginia's forward-focused research university with rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, entrepreneurial research and collaboration, and initiatives that contribute nearly $2.1 billion to the economy.

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