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

2015 State of the University Address

Good morning.

I had one of those believe-it-or-not moments walking in today, realizing this is my eighth State of the University address. It reminded me that indeed, "time does fly," as my grandparents often remarked.

But it also confirmed something I heard Steve Jobs once say:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

I believe his observation sums up our collective feelings about working at Old Dominion.

You cannot be in a position such as mine without a close friend and confidant - whether it is your spouse or significant other. Both Old Dominion and I are blessed to have First Lady Kate Broderick in our lives.

As always, I admire her work - for example, she recently created the "Women's Initiative Network," matching more than two dozen undergraduates with successful executives from a variety of fields for mentoring, scholarships and lifelong connections. This scholarship is exactly what we need to be doing throughout the campus to close the $1 million gap we have in that regard.

Thank you, Kate!

As a community, we are fortunate to be surrounded with tremendous volunteer leadership; Ron Ripley leads our Board of Visitors, while Kim Curtis, George Consolvo, Nora Barnes, Dan Clarkson and Molly Dey guide our foundations and alumni board.

Working with Paul Champagne and the faculty senate is a textbook example of effective shared governance.

I am also grateful to work with the talented group of executives who are part of the President's Office: Alonzo Brandon, Sonia Carter, Sherry Davis, Chandra de Silva, Morris Foster, Giovanna Genard, Velvet Grant, David Harnage, Diana Hurst, Elizabeth Kersey, Donna Meeks, Karen Meier, Earl Nance, Ellen Neufeldt, September Sanderlin, Wood Selig.

Let me acknowledge our outgoing Board of Visitors members who have worked tirelessly on our behalf - Barry Kornblau, who served eight years, Andrea Kilmer, Bill Cofer and Rodin Ndandula.

Likewise, I welcome Yvonne Almond, Donna Scassera Fischer, Mike Henry and Charles Chiou to the board and I appreciate Frank Reidy's willingness to serve another term.

In addition, let's not fail to remember the contributions to this great university of former President James Bugg, who passed away earlier this year.

When I think of campus heroes, I start with the dedicated individuals known as "essential personnel" in times of inclement weather. And how many of us breathe a sigh of relief when it's snowing, and we quietly celebrate . . . we are not essential?

During consecutive weeks in the spring semester, several storms forced us to cancel classes. But our "essential personnel" battled the conditions to keep the campus open. I'd like Dillard George, his colleagues, and all others who worked during these storms to stand and be recognized.

It is my honor to stand before you for the eighth time, during this eighth month as the eighth president of Old Dominion University.

Each day, ODU shines brighter as a vanguard of instruction, research, public service, diversity and economic growth. And here at the dawn of our 85th year, I am privileged to celebrate Old Dominion's rich foundation with you as we construct its radiant future.

We would do well to remember how all of this began:

In March of 1930, four men affiliated with the College of William & Mary's Norfolk extension program gathered at Larchmont Elementary School. The building and 12 acres were about to be abandoned by the city for a new one across Hampton Boulevard.

The College's president, Jack Chandler, turned to A.H. Foreman, a William & Mary board member, and said, "Foreman, get an option on that field."

Those iconic words launched the Norfolk Division of The College of William & Mary, which opened Sept. 12, 1930 with one building and 206 students.

Eighty-five years later, I marvel at what has become of that "option:"

  • A world-class University of 25,000 students, with 132,000 alumni representing every state and 76 countries.
  • More than 1,200 international students who call ODU home.
  • An economic engine that pours more than $2 billion annually into Virginia's economy.
  • A research-driven incubator that generates $48 million in annual funding from such important sources as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense.
  • A University ranked second in Virginia in awarding STEM-H degrees.
  • An instructional powerhouse whose distinguished faculty includes 28 winners of "Virginia's Outstanding Faculty Award."

The latest from our faculty to be so honored is nuclear physicist Gail Dodge. Her achievement this year highlights a wealth of faculty accomplishments, such as:

  • In Sciences, Jean Delayen reached a milestone, exceeding $8 million in peer-reviewed grants over the past five years.
  • In Health Sciences, our school of nursing ranked second nationally for online RN to BSN programs, while Carolyn Rutledge received $2.1 million from the state to place advanced practice nurses in rural areas of Virginia. Rebecca Poston was appointed to the Virginia Board of Nursing. Shelley Mishoe and her colleagues from EVMS, Norfolk State and William & Mary plan to create a public health consortium - the first of its kind in the Commonwealth.
  • Through Arts and Letters, Old Dominion earned its first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. That funding will help produce Birth of an Answer, an ambitious multi-media event planned by Avi Santo.
  • A memoir written by Blake Bailey was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
  • Greta Pratt had her work, "Nineteen Lincolns," on exhibit for five months at the Chrysler Museum.
  • In Education, Jane Bray was named chair of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
  • The Center for Educational Partnerships, led by John Nunnery and an interdisciplinary team of faculty, now reaches more than 130,000 students in 185 high-need middle schools with rigorous STEM courses.
  • Angela Eckhoff was appointed to the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success.
  • And I was honored to present Jennifer Kidd the President's Award for Diversity.
  • In the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Sylvain Marsillac's collaborations with leading Japanese and German colleagues was recognized at an international Conference, while Rafael Landaeta was selected as a fellow of the American Society of Engineering Management.
  • We welcome Jeff Tanner to the Strome College of Business, and thank Vinod Agarwal for his leadership during the past year. I also want to recognize Shaomin Li, who co-authored an opinion piece for Forbes magazine on China's Internet boom, and John Ford, who was named executive editor of the Journal of Advertising Research.
  • In the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, Andrei Pakhomov received a $7.5 million defense grant to lead a Research team from ODU, MIT and Texas A&M.
  • In the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development, Jim Shaeffer was honored for "extraordinary leadership" by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

And, while some of the people I have mentioned are relative newcomers, how about we take a moment to recognize these lifelong commitments at ODU:

  • Ken Daley - celebrating 50 years at the university
  • William Brenner and G. William Whitehurst - celebrating 45 years
  • And Marty Bradley, Daniel Dauer, Michael Doviak and Roland Mielke - celebrating 40 years

Please join me in recognizing them.

Our faculty are advancing knowledge in many exciting ways.

  • Indeed, it is a thrilling time to be smashing atoms at Jefferson Lab.
  • Experimenting with nanosecond pulses at the Reidy Center.
  • Hosting the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
  • And, teaming with the Naval Surface Warfare Center to advance cybersecurity.
  • Already the home to the White House pilot project on sea-level rise, ODU and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are working together to make Hampton Roads the nationally recognized center for coastal resiliency research.

Let me now transition to some remarkable student accomplishments.

Just a few examples:

  • Chris Ndiritu, our student-government president, was reelected to a second term. Nia Wilson spent this summer in the Virginia Governor's Fellows Program.
  • With guidance from the Strome Center, entrepreneurs Max Hall and Austin Jones launched the popular "CampusWise" book-selling app. Franck Tchouambou created the Rocket Science Web Studio, and Andrew Everson grew his custom surfboard company.
  • Kishla Conner introduced Vice President Joe Biden at a student summit.
  • Dana Childress was named the nation's most outstanding doctoral student in Early Childhood/Special Education.
  • Top students in the Wall Street 101 class enjoyed a learning experience at NASDAQ, thanks to a gift from Jon Wheeler, president of Wheeler Real Estate and Investment Trust.
  • Abby Braitman received a national post-doctoral fellowship award for individual psychology, valued at more than $100,000.
  • We recently graduated our first Ph.D. students in Biomedical Engineering and developed a degree in cyber security within Interdisciplinary Studies.
  • Old Dominion chemistry and biochemistry students were recognized as having the top affiliate chapter by the national chemical society. And a team of aspiring naval engineers won a research competition over prominent programs, including those at MIT and Michigan.

Speaking of teams, Old Dominion student-athletes excelled again in both the athletic and academic arenas.

Who could forget Trey Freeman's last-second shot against Murray State, the most exciting game-ending play ever at The Ted.

Alan Dawson's men's soccer team captured our first Conference-USA championship, while wrestler Tristan Warner was honored by the NCAA for the second time for having the highest GPA at the national championships.

Monarchs truly train their brains as well as their bodies - 140 of our student-athletes made the spring Dean's List. Our women's soccer and men's golf teams recorded perfect Academic Progress scores. And 11 of our 18 teams had a collective GPA of 3.0 or higher.

As both coaches and administrators know, having a clearly defined strategy is a vital first step to achieving positive outcomes. As part of the university's 2014-19 strategic plan, we will continue toward our preferred faculty-student ratio of 17-1. In addition, we completed 2014-15 with the highest retention and graduation rates in ODU history. More importantly, we expect to reach 82% this year - a 9% jump from where we started.

Another part of our overall student success strategy involves career outcomes. In our last alumni survey, 92% of respondents to the Career Management Center indicated they were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.

We at ODU can take great pride in the many accomplishments and successes of our alumni. Your overall efforts may well produce the next Morgan Davis, president of TowneBank; the next Aubrey Layne, secretary of transportation for Virginia; the next Lynn Clements, Executive Director at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach; or the next Ajit Pabhu, chairman and CEO of QUEST Global.

I would like to acknowledge Carol Simpson for her role in co-developing our five-year Strategic Plan with Ellen Neufeldt.

We added numerous innovative programs during Carol's seven-plus years as provost, including the country's only bachelor's-to-doctorate program in modeling and simulation.

I am grateful to Chandra de Silva, who is serving as interim provost while we conduct our national search.

I need to again congratulate VP Neufeldt on receiving the Goodnight Award, the highest honor given by the Student Affairs Administrators association.

Looking ahead, I anticipate greater student retention thanks to a variety of measures, including TRIO Student Support, a federally funded program directed by Jackie Hines for more than three decades.

And this semester we are investing in an academic coaching model to further support first-year students.

Old Dominion's commitment to serving our military constituency has never been stronger. More than 26 percent of ODU students have military ties. Our Military Connection Center and Veterans Business Outreach Center provide valuable resources in both academic and entrepreneurial ways.

I'd like to take a moment now to highlight the ways we have expanded our footprint since last August:

The first is quite visible -- the impressive Darden College of Education building which is nearing completion across the street.

In a few weeks, we will officially dedicate the Barry Arts Building, Hixon Art Studio Building, and Brock Commons.

We now refer to the President's Residence as the Jacobson House as a result of another generous gift from Marc and Connie Jacobson.

Donors have contributed more than $7 million to soon make the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center a reality. Elza and family thank you!

Since last year's gift from Mark and Tammy Strome, more than 6.5 million additional dollars have been raised in business, including $1 million from graduate Richard Thurmond to develop programming in the art of negotiation.

Today, our first dining hall, on 49th Street, is well under construction. And our campus master plan, led by David Harnage, includes expanding our housing capacity by nearly 3,000 beds.

Thanks to the Governor and the General Assembly, we received authorization to begin planning for construction of a $71-million Life Sciences Building for needed laboratories. We are now seeking support for a $74-million Health Sciences Building and a $62-million Student Services Building.

These facilities represent our unwavering commitment to the Governor, the General Assembly and the business community to help shape a new economy in Virginia, with more high-paying, private-sector jobs here in Hampton Roads.

2015 marked the fifth consecutive year we were included in the Governor's introduced budget. Teaming with Elizabeth Kersey, I am pleased to report we again received one of the largest allocations.

As for distance learning, Old Dominion is a longtime leader in providing educational access to Virginians. Through a new partnership with George Mason University, we are jointly proposing a degree-completion program that could help thousands of Virginians earn their degrees.

As you all know, our bar is already set high with "ODUOnline," again ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the nation's top 35 undergraduate programs.

As I have indicated, the entrepreneurial spirit on campus vibrates throughout the region via the Women's Business Center and the Center for Enterprise Innovation.

This month, the Center for Enterprise Innovation will partner with the City of Norfolk to open the first joint site near the downtown arts district. This exciting project will support start-ups and help accelerate the evolution of new ideas into enterprise.

While on the subject, I would like to recognize the six faculty members who have been chosen as Lee Entsminger Fellows:

Jenifer Alonzo; Mark Lane; Mike McShane; Sheri Colberg-Ochs; Karen Sanzo; and Rafael Landaeta. Congratulations.

Our 85th year carries a palpable excitement for all it represents and how we will mark our anniversary.

A highlight is "85 Hours of Giving," a three-day fundraising campaign that will commence next month with a goal of $850,000 to honor our latest milestone.

I hope everyone here today will participate.

I also urge you to participate in "85 Hours of Service," promoting volunteerism. Let me especially thank those today who donated to the Food Bank.

Last year, ODU students provided more than 500,000 hours of community service, which translates to $12.5 million of local value, more measurable evidence of what community engagement means.

Our students also contributed greatly to the success of such notable programs as "Monarchs for Monarchs," building habitats for Monarch butterflies, and the "Little Feet Meet," an annual Special Olympics event led by Betsy Kennedy, along with other faculty and students from Parks, Recreation and Tourism Studies, and supported by Coach Bobby Wilder and members of the football team.

I am proud to report, we again have enhanced our highest priority at ODU -- our people.

For the second consecutive year, we awarded compensatory increases above and beyond state raises. And I am committed to doing so again in 2015-16, with Board of Visitors support.

We recognize that the quality of life for members of our campus community is paramount. As such, we now have lactation rooms for nursing mothers; and we are implementing our campus-wide initiative to assess and enhance our Service Standards.

We have added flashing mid-street crosswalks; upgraded lighting; installed 1,500 security cameras; and launched an upgraded SafeRide program, which served 71,000 riders last year.

As I attend campus events, I notice the efforts you all take to ensure a positive experience for our 500,000 guests annually, and we all know light-rail succeeds best where people need to go.

As a microcosm of society, a college community thrives where free and open dialogue is welcome and valued. Where diversity enriches the educational experience and hiring practices, and where citizens respect and support one another.

Old Dominion boasts one of the most ethnically and racially diverse student populations in the country. It is one of the top reasons, students tell us - regardless of their race, age or life experiences - why they come here.

We want to be a community where "One ODU" is more than just a slogan. Our goal is to offer an environment - whether you are an employee or a student - where "One ODU" means you embrace diversity and inclusivity, and learn from those whose experiences, beliefs and perspectives are different from your own. At ODU, diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand with our academic mission. We will remain mindful of this standard, and vigilant in its application.

To that end, I charged the President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence to develop objectives and a series of recommended and measurable action items that support progression of the Inclusive Excellence framework over the next five years (2014-2019). And members of the Task Force carried out this charge this past year.

There is no magic bullet for achieving inclusive excellence. It is not a one-time event. Rather it is a process that unfolds and changes over time. So the adoption of this framework and most certainly the implementation of it, is NOT the sole responsibility of one office. Rather, it is a shared university responsibility that involves greater intentionality and attention to diversity efforts.

Johnny Young, Renee Dunman, Stephanie Sanders and the Student Government Association have begun the important work of assembling a student advisory board, ensuring further discussion and review of our campus climate.

At the same time, we must maintain our commitment to promote personal well-being through our sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention programs.

I commend our student leaders for their work toward a safe campus. The SGA's "Monarchs Rising Up" initiative highlights the importance of bystander intervention.

Through a partnership with the Women's Center, students created a new video on bystander intervention entitled "It's On Us," which is shown to all new students.

I said it last year and I say it again: There is zero tolerance for sexual assault on our campus.

In closing, I offer a salute to that small group who met 85 years ago. They fused a plan that took root, flourished and enhanced their community.

Today, the collaborative heart and soul of Old Dominion feeds Hampton Roads, Virginia, the nation and the world. Our thirst for discovery is fierce. Our search for solutions is relentless. Our sense of mission has never been as sharp.

Lastly, Patrick Baldwin and Aramark, Mike Fryling and Global, Chad Peevy and facilities and all of our police, thanks what you do for the Brodericks.

I wish you all the best in the academic year ahead - and thank you for coming.

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