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


The Old Dominion University Board of Visitors Thursday unanimously endorsed a university proposal to name the College of Engineering and Technology the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology "in recognition of Mr. Batten's efforts to gain approval from the state for an engineering school at Old Dominion. The name also recognizes the
generosity of the Batten family."

Batten, the founder of Landmark Communications, was chosen as Old Dominion's first rector in 1962 after the school officially gained its independence from parent institution William and Mary. That same year, the new Old Dominion College received approval from the General Assembly to offer a bachelor of science degree in engineering, which was the start of
the School of Engineering.

An Old Dominion supporter for nearly five decades, Batten presented the university with a gift of $32 million on March 11. It is the largest gift in university history and one of the largest ever to a Virginia public college or university.

"There could be no more appropriate way of celebrating the leadership and generosity of the first rector of our Board of Visitors than to name the College of Engineering for him. We are honored that Dr. Batten would accept to lend his name to one the two original areas of intellectual pursuit on this campus," said President Roseann Runte.

"Dr. Batten has been a part of this university from its inception. Over the years, his engagement in planning Old Dominion's future has resulted in significant growth in both size and quality. Dr. Batten has been instrumental in helping us realize the lofty goals he encouraged us to set. The Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology stands at
the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological application. I am certain that every professor and student will be inspired by Frank Batten's name and the example of his life's work to strive for excellence in teaching and research."

In announcing his $32 million gift earlier this year, Batten said, "Over the past 48 years, I have seen Old Dominion make great strides in student achievement, teaching excellence, research endeavors and state-of-the-art facilities. I hope this gift will enable Old Dominion to reach the forefront of academic and research eminence, particularly in the fields of science and technology."

The gift will benefit all six of the university's academic colleges, with a particular emphasis on engineering and science.
Seventy-five percent of the gift will be used to establish endowed faculty chairs and the remaining 25 percent will go to endowing research within the institution.

Batten's long relationship with Old Dominion began in 1955 when he served as a member of the Advisory Board to the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary. Over the next few years, as the Norfolk Division campaigned to become an independent college, Batten served as a tireless advocate and promoter of the school. He served as rector from 1962-70. In June 1972, the university's Batten Arts and Letters Building was dedicated in his honor. He was presented an honorary doctorate at ODU's December 2002 commencement. Batten's son, Frank Jr., currently serves as
board rector.

Batten's financial support to Old Dominion has earned him the distinction as the university's most significant and enduring contributor. His influence has extended beyond the generosity of his immediate family, including his wife, Jane, and three children. In 1995, Old Dominion initiated the Batten Award to recognize and encourage others who, like the
Batten family, have demonstrated outstanding charitable support to the university and whose philanthropic leadership encourages others to support the university.

Batten began his professional career in the 1950s when he went to work for his uncle's two local newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Dispatch. Later he acquired a controlling interest in the newspapers. He built them into Landmark Communications Inc., a Norfolk-based, privately held media company with national and international interests in newspapers, broadcasting, cable programming and electronic publishing. In 1998, Batten passed control of Landmark to his son and currently serves as chairman of the board's Executive Committee.

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