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

Naval Admiral, Cabinet Secretary to Deliver Addresses at Old Dominion University Commencement

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Nearly 1,600 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees will be awarded Saturday, Dec. 17, during Old Dominion University's 125th commencement exercises.

Graduates will hear from Rear Admiral Peter A. Gumataotao, deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and policy with Supreme Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, and Molly Ward, Virginia's secretary of natural resources.

Gumataotao will speak at the 9 a.m. ceremony to graduates of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Sciences and the Darden College of Education. Ward will address graduates of the College of Arts & Letters, the Strome College of Business and the College of Health Sciences at 2 p.m.

The graduations will be at Old Dominion's Ted Constant Convocation Center. For more information, see Old Dominion University's Commencement Homepage.

A native of Guam, Gumataotao is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned his master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 1994.

A surface warfare officer, Gumataotao has deployed extensively to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. Ashore, Gumataotao served as assistant surface operations officer and surface systems analysis officer for Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet; a fellow for the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group at the Center for Naval Analysis in Washington; a congressional liaison for surface programs at the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, and chief of staff for Naval Surface Forces.

His flag assignments include commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea for U.S. Pacific Fleet; U.S. Naval Regional commander for Naval Installations Command; commander, Task Force 78 for U.S. 7th Fleet; Naval Component commander of United Nations Command; deputy Naval Component commander for Combined Forces Command, Korea, and commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 (Nimitz Strike Group).

Gumataotao's decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal. He also received the first Admiral Zumwalt Award for visionary leadership in 2001.

Ward, a former mayor of Hampton, was nominated as secretary of natural resources in 2013 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and confirmed in 2014.

Ward is a native of Hampton and a graduate of the University of Virginia and the William & Mary Law School. She has handled a wide range of cases involving environmental issues, land use and planning.

Ward served as the elected treasurer for Hampton from 2002 to 2008, reworking operations to focus on customer service and measurable results. She eliminated lines and increased collection rates by double digits, to almost 100 percent.

She was elected mayor in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. Ward represented the interests of the city and the Hampton Roads region at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission on issues related to water quality, the Chesapeake Bay and sea level rise. She also served as chair of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.

Ward led the bipartisan delegation that persuaded the federal government to designate Fort Monroe a national monument.

She previously was special assistant to the president and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House.

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