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

VIDEO: ‘Next 100 Years’ Event Addresses Future of Naval Station Norfolk

By Noell Saunders

Military dignitaries and Old Dominion University experts recently joined forces to discuss possibilities in navigating toward a secure and sustainable future for Naval Station Norfolk.

The event, which was held at The Hilton Main Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Norfolk, included four panel discussions highlighting topics such as the future of fleet design; research and technology; training a new generation of service members; the future of maritime distribution; infrastructure abilities; the growing need of cybersecurity experts; and building partnerships with governments, universities and other agencies.

Remarks were given by Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Old Dominion President John R. Broderick, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Commonwealth of Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen R. Jackson and Vice Admiral Richard Breckinridge, deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk.

Naval Station Norfolk, which recently marked a century milestone, is the world's largest and one of its most important military installations. Situated on more than 4,000 acres along one of the world's greatest natural harbors, the base is home to U.S. Navy warships, submarines, aircraft carriers, naval air squadrons, helicopters and the Defense Department's busiest supply center.

Old Dominion University has been a neighbor and partner with Naval Station Norfolk and the city of Norfolk for most of the last 100 years.

"ODU has enjoyed a strong, deep partnership with the military almost since our inception as a two-year college in 1930," said President Broderick. "Twenty six percent, or more than 5,000, of our students are affiliated with the military in some fashion."

Sen. Kaine said the senate plays a key role in supporting and moving military initiatives forward.

"The biggest piece of legislation the Senate passes every year is the Defense Authorization Act which is a line by line item description of what we are going to do to support and think into the future for our military needs," Kaine said. "It's critically important."

Sec. Jackson led the research and technology panel. She expressed a desire to see more collaboration among organizations to help Naval Station Norfolk continue its efforts for another 100 years.

"I don't think we've taken full advantage of our ability to collaborate, but that's something we need to do in the future with our universities, our military and our Commonwealth, she said. "We need to have those integrated conversations."

Admiral Breckinridge noted that the country needs to prepare a new generation of leaders to be ready for the conditions that America will be faced with in the future.

"During college studies, it's important to have the ability to look at problems with an open mind, getting a diversity of thought, but being able to wrestle with tenacity while having the methodology to solve them," he said.

Paul Olsen, director of programs and partnerships for ODU's Office of Research, led the panel on infrastructure in which he talked about the power of building a solid foundation with education.

"That's where academia comes in," he said. "Old Dominion definitely plays a part of the infrastructure by establishing the academic foundation."

Since their formation, Old Dominion's Army ROTC and Hampton Roads Naval ROTC have commissioned about 2,200 graduating officers that have gone on to become important leaders in the armed forces.

President Broderick said robust partnerships demonstrate the University's commitment to service and collaboration as society addresses the country's most pressing challenges.

Examples of ODU's partnerships include:

  • In 2017, the third class from U.S. Fleet Forces Command completed ODU's graduate certificate program in public sector leadership.
  • ODU plans to begin offering a cyber management program at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.
  • Old Dominion's Ships to Sea program, established more than 20 years ago, has incorporated the latest advances in technology and now provides educational opportunities to personnel on every carrier as well as most submarines and other surface ships.
  • NATO: Old Dominion currently offers scholarships to 65 NATO staff or family members.
  • Port of Virginia: The University is leveraging its strengths — from geographic information systems and maritime studies to modeling and simulation — to partner with the port, one of Hampton Roads' major industries, to plan for certain growth in demand over the next 50 years.
  • The GOV2COM program, part of the University's Center for Enterprise Innovation, helps companies branch out from government contracts to commercial markets.
  • Old Dominion created the Center for Sea Level Rise in 2010 to encompass broadening efforts in developing flooding resiliency.
  • The University played a major role in the recent U.S. Navy-led Intergovernmental Planning Pilot Project to create a regional strategy to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding that can serve as a template for other communities around the world.

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