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Virginia Secretary of Finance, Norfolk Mayor Will Be Featured Speakers at ODU’s 131st Commencement Exercises

By Joe Garvey

Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey L. Layne Jr. and Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander will be the featured speakers at Old Dominion University's 131st Commencement Exercises on Dec. 14 in Chartway Arena at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Graduates will receive degrees in two ceremonies.

Layne will address the graduates of the Darden College of Education & Professional Studies, Batten College of Engineering and Technology, and College of Sciences at the 9 a.m. ceremony. Alexander will address graduates of the College of Arts and Letters, Strome College of Business, and College of Health Sciences at the 2 p.m. commencement.

Additionally, two longtime supporters of the University, Patricia W. Perry and Carolyn K. Barry, will receive honorary degrees.

Layne has been Virginia's secretary of finance since January 2018. He oversees the Commonwealth's four main finance agencies - Accounts, Planning and Budget, Taxation and Treasury - along with the Virginia Resources Authority.

He served as the state's secretary of transportation from 2014 to 2018, leading seven agencies with more than 10,000 employees and combined budgets of more than $6 billion. Layne represented Hampton Roads on the Commonwealth Transportation Board from 2006 to 2014.

Before his service in state government, Layne was president of An Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News, a partnership between Newport News Public Schools, the City of Newport News and the local business community. The school aims to give students at risk of failure due to socioeconomic factors a chance to succeed.

Layne earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Richmond and an M.B.A. from Old Dominion University with a concentration in international business. In 2011, he completed the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leaders program.

Alexander was elected mayor of Norfolk in 2016. A Norfolk native and president of Metropolitan Funeral Service, he began his public service career more than two decades ago.

Before his election as mayor, Alexander served in the Virginia Senate, where he was a member of the committees on Commerce and Labor, Finance, Transportation and Privileges and Elections. He represented the 89th District in the House of Delegates from 2002 until 2012, serving on the committees of Commerce and Labor, Education, Privileges and Elections and Rules.

Prior to his election to the General Assembly, Alexander was a member of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority, City Planning Commission (where he also served as vice chair) and Human Services Commission. He also was a member of a City Council-appointed blue ribbon commission that studied the direct election of the office of mayor. Alexander began his community service as president of Berkley's Beacon Light Civic League and Beacon Light Community Development Corporation.

A 1985 graduate of Lake Taylor High School, Alexander holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Old Dominion, a master's degree in diplomacy from Norwich University and a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University.

Mrs. Perry will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (honoris causa) at the 9 a.m. ceremony.

As a mother of three, she attended ODU as a nontraditional student to complete the degree she had started two decades earlier at the University of Maryland. She majored in clinical psychology and graduated with honors from ODU in 1989.

Since then, she said, she has committed "to give something back in return for all the university did for me." She has been generous with her time and resources.

Old Dominion has renamed its library and Honors College after Mrs. Perry and her husband, Douglas, in recognition of their support. She served on ODU's Board of Visitors from 1997 to 2001 and was chair of the board's Institutional Advancement Committee. The Perrys have endowed the John and Kate Broderick Opportunity Scholarship for honors students from Virginia and another scholarship to benefit graduates of An Achievable Dream Academy on the Peninsula.

They have helped other educational institutions, including Tidewater Community College and Cape Henry Collegiate School. The Perrys are the lead contributors for TCC's Perry Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, which will open in 2021.

Patricia Perry's generosity has flowed to many other causes, including domestic violence, human trafficking and the arts. She has served as vice chair of the Governor's Board on Child Abuse and Neglect and a board member of the United Way of South Hampton Roads, St. Mary's Home and the Virginia Stage Company.

The Perrys also have endowed the Perry Glass Studio at the Chrysler Museum of Art. They received Norfolk's First Citizen Award from the Cosmopolitan Club in 2015 and the Peter G. Decker Jr. Downtowner of the Year Award from the Downtown Norfolk Council in 2017.

Mrs. Barry will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (honoris causa) at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

She and her husband, Richard, donated more than 300 works of art, including glass sculptures, marine and modernist paintings and antique dolls, to ODU to create the Barry Art Museum, which opened in 2018. Carolyn Barry serves as vice president of Old Dominion's Museum Foundation.

At the Chrysler Museum of Art, she was a docent for 35 years. She also served as a board trustee for eight years and a member of the Masterpiece and Collections committees.

The Barrys continue to collect art to donate to the Barry Museum.

A graduate of Granby High School in Norfolk and Mary Washington College, she taught college algebra at Old Dominion and algebra at Lane High School in Charlottesville, Norfolk Catholic High School and the Garrison Williams School in Norfolk.

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