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Bob Wolfson, Former Head of ODU Research Foundation, Dies at 68

Bob Wolfson, who led the Old Dominion University Research Foundation for 16 years before leaving in 2000 for a position in public health in California, has died. He was 68.

Wolfson died Dec. 30 in San Diego following a year-long battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife Vicki, his daughters and grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Sunday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk.

During his term as director, the Research Foundation grew from about $5 million to more than $23 million in sponsored program activity. Wolfson also oversaw the foundation's move to an automated accounting system that provides researchers with accurate and timely financial information about their projects.

Bob Ash, professor and Eminent Scholar of aerospace engineering at Old Dominion, said Wolfson was executive director of the Research Foundation during most of his tenure as the University's chief research officer.

"While Bob spent a great deal of time explaining why we couldn't embark on a variety 'bold' research initiatives, he spent even more time helping facilitate major research initiatives that have left a permanent legacy. We were friends ever since," Ash said.

Larry Atkinson, Slover Professor of Oceanography at Old Dominion, said: "Bob was great to work with as ODURF went through significant changes as ODU built its research capacity. He was instrumental in setting the ground work for our success."

Upon becoming vice president/chief operating officer for the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit independent research organization in Berkeley, Calif., Wolfson said of Old Dominion, "It has been very rewarding to work with such a talented faculty, and I'm extremely proud of the professional organization that we have developed."

Wolfson also noted he was proud to have helped create an organization responsive to the needs of the University's principal investigators. "We recognize that without the hard work of the University's faculty, we would not have any grants or contracts to administer."

He added, "As the University continues to increase its research volume, the foundation is in an excellent position to assist in exploiting the commercialization of related intellectual property."

For the past five years, Wolfson served as executive director for the San Diego State University Research Foundation.

In a letter circulated to staff, Michele Goetz, acting executive director of the SDSU Research Foundation, wrote that Wolfson, "touched all of us during his five years as executive director. He led us through a critical period with grace, professionalism and humor, and will be missed."

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