August 22, 2013
Today, The Virginian-Pilot published an editorial lauding the accomplishments achieved at Old Dominion over the past several years.
As I noted Tuesday in my State of the University address, our faculty and staff are the greatest asset we have. This editorial is a commentary about every member of the ODU community and your contributions to our success. Thank you for all you do!
John R. Broderick
ODU becoming star off and on the field
© August 22, 2013
News from the campus of Norfolk's Old Dominion University this week underscores how much the school has grown and reveals the outline of plans to continue that growth.
A $10 million gift from an alumnus and his wife will allow the university to create a new entrepreneurship curriculum within its College of Business and Public Administration. Mark Strome, a California hedge fund manager who graduated from ODU in 1978 with a degree in civil engineering, made the contribution with his wife, Tammy. It's the second biggest gift ever from an individual to the school.
Strome's gift expands ODU's academic programs at the same time that it enriches Norfolk's burgeoning entrepreneurial scene. In recent years, a start-up program, Hatch, has helped to mentor businesses in an effort to "garden" locally owned companies that sprout local jobs. Norfolk has also made progress in establishing a tech corridor on Granby Street.
"There is ample evidence, worldwide, that entrepreneurial activity creates jobs, empowers individuals, revitalizes communities and enhances our collective well-being while being very effective at durably healing and preventing social problems," Strome said in making the donation to ODU. "We hope to build upon the business school's core competencies and to introduce the availability of entrepreneurial studies to other disciplines within the university."
Old Dominion President John Broderick, in his state of the university address, made note of significant strides since he took his post five years ago: a modeling and simulation program that has graduated its first students; massive investments in research and development, including efforts to address traffic and flooding in Hampton Roads; significant improvements to campus safety; and $325 million in capital projects.
The university has also secured more than $100 million in gifts and commitments, including 21 of more than $1 million each. Among other things, those donations will build an art library and an amphitheater and support athletic programs.
All that serves to highlight ODU's pursuit of a vigorous transformation from commuter school to academic force. More evidence of ODU's lofty ambitions came in a report from The Pilot's Harry Minium that says a revamped campus master plan will recommend demolition of a couple of dormitories to make way for a 30,000-seat football stadium, with room to expand to 45,000 or more seats.
ODU's football program boasted instant success on the field and in the stands. In 2014 ODU makes the leap into the highest level of college football, joining the Football Bowl Subdivision with a move to Conference USA. The move necessitates a bigger stadium - games have been sold out since the football program launched - with finer facilities.
Although the master plan will address every aspect of ODU's footprint on Norfolk's west side, from academic buildings to student housing, the plan for the football stadium ranks among its most anticipated elements. Details remain to be seen - including how the university would pay for such a huge project, as well as the fate of the Depression-era Foreman Field stadium. Minium reported the plan recommends portions of Foreman be scrapped; sections renovated for the launch of football in 2009 would be saved and repurposed.
The university has approached its plan for growth methodically; with the help of its master plan, it should continue to do so. It has a lot to consider: how to wedge more space for classrooms, students and parking onto land hemmed in by neighborhoods; how to mitigate flooding; whether Foreman, a Works Progress Administration project, is worth saving.
Major gifts and deliberate, thorough planning will propel Old Dominion through the next phase of its growth. And that means ODU will continue to build its campus and its presence as the major academic institution of Hampton Roads.