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


Sept. 21

Dear Members of the Old Dominion University Community:

After the storm we are left with thankfulness in our hearts. We have no injuries to report and the damage certainly could have been worse.

It is a pleasure to thank the hundreds of people who worked before, during and after the storm to maintain the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff.

I cannot name everyone, but let me mention a few whose efforts represent those of many others.

Vice President Bob Fenning coordinated an extraordinary effort for the institution. Police Chief Bill Quinn and the public safety staff did an incredible job. Ron Tola and Dillard George worked admirably with their respective staffs. Dana Burnett and Terry Durkin earn praise for the evacuation of 250 students.

We owe a special thanks to Longwood University for housing our students and making them feel welcome and secure during their stay there.

Don Runyon and his Webb Center staff and Janet McLaughlin and the dining services staff are also worthy of our applause.

Provost Tom Isenhour and faculty members Dan Sonenshine, Bob Ash and Kerry Kilburn led the efforts to ensure laboratories and Maglev were secured. Staff members Marla Harvey, Andy Mahorn and Mary Hayward also contributed greatly to this effort.

Rusty Waterfield and the crew at OCCS monitored the computer systems throughout the Hurricane. James Lidington from University Relations updated our Web site regularly. We also wish to thank our colleagues at Virginia Tech for allowing use of their Web site. I am grateful to the ODU students who were in the streets around campus assisting neighbors.

For those of you who were not on campus during the storm, let me provide you with an eyewitness report.

As we evacuated students and began boarding up buildings and sandbagging doors to offices, there was scarcely a cloud in the sky. By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, the air grew ominously still. Showers began and continued sporadically throughout the evening.

It was raining in earnest by 8 a.m. Thursday. By 9 a.m. power was lost on campus as the winds began to pick up steam. The Lafayette River extended across the WHRO parking lot and the Elizabeth River was higher than I had ever seen it. Water actually filled the main quad area at a depth of four feet. Many of our beautiful trees toppled as nature decided to re-landscape the campus. It is incredible to note that each one of the trees feel in just the right direction to avoid buildings.

In the aftermath of the storm, we are removing trees and branches, fixing some 60 leaks in roofs and getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

As I pen this letter, I realize how much we all depend on electricity. Without power, we cannot operate. Watching the full force of the storm, I was impressed by the power of nature, but also by the dedication of the people who work at Old Dominion University.

Your preparation, organization and hard work certainly allayed the most significant damage of the storm. In every time of great tribulation, heroes emerge. Old Dominion University certainly has its share and I thank each and every one of you.


Roseann Runte

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