[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

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

Board of Visitors Statement

Statement of the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors Concerning the Report of Nixon Peabody LLP

December 20, 2021

Today, the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors is releasing the report from Nixon Peabody LLP, which reviewed allegations concerning sexual misconduct that began in 2010 by former Visiting Professor Blake Bailey and the University's response to, and its subsequent public comments concerning, that misconduct.

The University is voluntarily making the report public to support full transparency in this matter and in recognition of the significant public interest in ensuring that Old Dominion provides a safe and welcoming environment for all individuals, and to demonstrate its commitment to combatting sexual misconduct.

Full text of the report can be found here. Please note that only a small number of redactions were made to the report solely to protect the privacy of certain victims, including several who had not been previously named in the media, as well as the content of personal journal entries.


Earlier this year, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper published an article describing alleged sexual misconduct by then Visiting Professor Bailey (who was at ODU from 2010 to 2016) and suggesting that the University's response at the time had been insufficient. A statement given to the newspaper by the University for that article was widely considered to be insensitive to victims of sexual misconduct.

Consequently, in August of 2021, the University engaged Nixon Peabody LLP, a widely respected law firm with no other connections to the University, to review (1) the allegations concerning Professor Bailey's conduct and the University's response to it, and (2) the circumstances surrounding the University's 2021 statement to The Virginian-Pilot.

The Report's Findings

Bailey's conduct and the University's response to it: The Nixon Peabody report found that Professor Bailey touched a professor's private parts without her consent and also engaged in unwanted physical touching and attention toward a graduate student. It also found that certain members of the faculty and administrators became aware of these incidents. The report also concludes that "although there may have been no clear violation of Title VII, Title IX, or any other applicable law or policy, best practices dictate that ODU should have done more to address the Bailey allegations at the time."

The 2021 statement to The Virginian-Pilot: The Nixon Peabody report found that the University's statement improperly "blamed complainants, instead of providing the care and support they deserve," and that it "made ODU appear indifferent to the issues of sexual misconduct."

The University's Response

"The sexual misconduct described in the report, as well as the University's inadequate response to it at the time, are wrong and unacceptable," said ODU Board of Visitors Rector Bruce Bradley after the report had been presented to and reviewed by the University's Board. "Since that time, the University has taken steps to prevent activity like this occurring in the future and to ensure that if it does occur that individuals will feel empowered to report it in the knowledge that ODU will respond swiftly, appropriately, and effectively. We express our sincere regret on behalf of the University that these events happened, that members of our Monarch family experienced them, and that our response was not what it should have been."

Regarding the University's statement to The Virginian-Pilot, the Rector said, "President Broderick apologized for the University at the time, and we again express our regret. We are also concerned by the report's finding that no female administrators, including the University's assistant vice president overseeing communication, its Title IX coordinator, or anyone from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, were involved in developing or reviewing the statement. The University has taken steps to ensure that statements to the media are properly reviewed and that the process will include women and all appropriate officials."

A Clear Commitment to Doing Better

With the increase in federal regulation and compliance, as well as the University's own review of its policies and procedures, much has changed since 2010 when these incidents took place. As a society, we have gained a much greater appreciation of the need to empower victims to report instances of sexual misconduct and the corresponding need for institutions to take those reports seriously and investigate them thoroughly. ODU has changed as well, and over the course of those 11 years has taken a variety of steps to empower individuals to report sexual misconduct and to strengthen the University's response. "We believe that if these policies and procedures had been in place in 2010, the outcome would likely have been different," Rector Bradley said.

Since becoming ODU President in July 2021, Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., has made it a priority to strengthen those practices even further. At the beginning of the current academic year, ODU's Police Department launched the "Start by Believing" initiative to ensure that police not only investigate complaints thoroughly but, equally important, treat complainants with compassion and support and thereby encourage the reporting of misconduct.

The initiative has included a public awareness campaign, along with a video that notes "how we react can have lasting physical, emotional, and psychological effects on victims of sexual assault, so responding in a positive way can improve a victim's well-being and increase the chance that they will report to law enforcement and reach out for help through resources right here at ODU." All Monarchs are urged to respond to reports of rape or sexual assault "by believing, being compassionate and supportive, and asking how you can help."

The University is fully committed to learning from this experience and to proactively ensuring that Old Dominion University provides a safe and supportive environment for all members of our Monarch family.


Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, is Virginia's forward-focused public doctoral research university with more than 23,500 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community and initiatives that contribute $2.6 billion annually to Virginia's economy.

Old Dominion, established in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, has the most affordable tuition of any doctoral-granting university in Virginia and is the only doctoral institution to freeze tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates this year. It has been named a Best National University by U.S. News & World Report.

ODU recently placed among the top 10% of institutions in the nation and No. 1 in Virginia in CollegeNET Inc.'s eighth annual Social Mobility Index (SMI) rankings. It has been named a "top performer" in social mobility by U.S. News & World Report and ranked fourth in country and 49th in the world for reducing inequalities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Twenty-five percent of spring 2021 bachelor's recipients were first in their family to receive a degree.

ODU is a champion of diversity. The University enrolled 7,000 African American students in fall 2020 - more than any other four-year public institution in Virginia, and 53% of undergraduates in fall 2020 were students of color. It was named a top-15 university for African American student success by Education Trust. ODU enrolls students from 97 countries.

Located near Naval Station Norfolk, headquarters and home port of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Forces Command, ODU is committed to serving the military community. Twenty-five percent of its student body is military-affiliated, and the University ranked No. 1 in Virginia in "Best for Vets" category by Military Times.

The University has been a leader in virtual learning, offering more than 100 programs completely online. ODU is ranked as the No. 1 Virginia college by OnlineColleges.com; 68% of students participate in online learning and 28% are totally online.

A new Chemistry Building and Hugo A. Owens House opened this spring. The Chemistry Building features 24 research labs, 13 teaching labs and a 122-seat planetarium and digital theater. Owens House provides living-learning communities for students in STEM-H fields and is named for a local civil rights leader who was Old Dominion's first African American rector. The University also broke ground for a new Health Sciences Building. The University previously announced a partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University and Sentara Healthcare to establish the new School of Public Health and, most recently, additional collaborations were announced with regard to education, research, clinical, and workforce efforts in order to address significant health disparities in the region.

More than 4,600 students are enrolled in the Graduate School, which was established in 2016. They come from all 50 states and nearly 100 countries.

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.