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

Two Faculty Members, Foodbank CEO Honored at Annual Founders’ Day Luncheon

By Joe Garvey

Two faculty members who have each spent more than 50 years at Old Dominion University and the chief executive officer of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore were honored Friday at the annual Founders' Day luncheon.

The event, held in the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, is co-hosted by Town-N-Gown, an independent association dedicated to developing a mutual understanding between Old Dominion and the civilian and military communities of Hampton Roads. This year's luncheon celebrated the 50th anniversary of Old Dominion's elevation to university status.

Faculty members Robert L. Ash and Nina W. Brown received Monarch Legacy Awards, which are given to members of the ODU community whose actions have made a significant impact on the campus.

Ash joined Old Dominion in 1967, when it was still classified as a college. He has served as a department chair, acting dean of engineering and the University's chief research officer. He is an Eminent Scholar of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and his research specialty is thermophysics, including extraction of resources on Mars through non-equilibrium behavior of simple fluids. He has written or co-written more than 100 refereed publications and served as principal investigator on externally funded research projects valued at more than $6 million.

Ash "continues to lead our students and his fellow faculty toward innovation," President John R. Broderick said. "This year, under his leadership, a group of students realized their dream of seeing the miniature satellite, or CubeSat, that they designed sent into orbit from the International Space Station."

Brown, who joined ODU in 1968, is a professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Counseling and Human Services. She has been a member and chair of the department, college and University promotion and tenure committees. She has also served on faculty governance evaluation and human subjects review committees. She was elected to lead the Faculty Senate four times and is now vice chair.

"She has dedicated her career not only to educating our students, but also to enhancing the body of human services research worldwide," Broderick said. "Dr. Brown has shared her expertise as author of a number of books and journal articles and has furthered her legacy through service and mentorship of faculty at ODU. ... Nina has enriched the lives of so many, and her hard work has anchored this institution through its many evolutions."

The Foodbank's Ruth Jones Nichols received the Town-N-Gown Rita M. Costello Community Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated unusual concern for and commitment to serving others over a period of years. The award is named for Costello, who was twice president of Town-N-Gown and held many other leadership positions in the organization. She died in 2007.

Nichols became CEO of the Foodbank in 2016, bringing more than 20 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit social services sector.

In 2015, she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Distinguished Service Award from Tidewater Community College. Among her other honors: being named to the Top 40 under 40 by Inside Business, receiving the Women in Business Achievement Award, being named one of the 10 Leading Ladies in Hampton Roads by Coastal Virginia Magazine, and being selected for the Inside Business Power List of 100 individuals influencing Hampton Roads every year since 2015.

"Mahatma Gandhi said, 'The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,'" Broderick said. "All of our recipients have selflessly dedicated their lives to mentoring members of the community as well as our students, faculty and staff, serving as an invaluable resource across the Commonwealth and beyond."

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