[ skip to content ]

ODU in the News

Week of 7/15/13

McDonnell names four to ODU's top board
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 13, 2013)

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday announced four appointments to Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors.
Appointed to the board:
* Richard Cheng, chief executive officer of JRC LLC and a longtime Virginia Beach entrepreneur
* Jodi Gildey, president of AGL Resources subsidiary Virginia Natural Gas
* Robert Tata, partner at Hunton & Williams LLP
* Dr. Mary Maniscalco-Theberge of Reston, deputy medical inspector of the Veterans Health Administration
Gildey, Maniscalco-Theberge and Tata are ODU alumni, according to McDonnell press secretary Taylor Keeney. Cheng is a former chairman of the university's computer science department.
The 17-member Board of Visitors, the university's top governing body, controls the university's rules and budget and names its president. Terms on the board last four years. (More)

It's electric
(Inside Business/The Virginian-Pilot, July 12, 2013)

The Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University almost certainly has greater international recognition than the school itself, center director Richard Heller said. That's because it is one of the pioneers in bioelectrics - the interaction between electric fields and living cells - and continues to be a leader in the maturing field.
Founded in 2002, the center employs about 50 people and has annual expenditures of about $4 million. Heller, who worked at the University of South Florida before becoming director here in 2008, spoke about bioelectrics, its applications and the center's interactions with the business world - which have been heating up lately.
In laymen's terms, what is bioelectrics and why should the business community be interested?
The simplest definition is it's the use of external electric fields to manipulate biological cells or systems. So we can essentially apply a field of a certain characteristic to activate a cell or we could tell a cell - like a cancer cell - that it should be dead. Or we could use different parameters to get molecules from the outside of the cell to the inside of the cell; we could deliver DNA, or drugs or protein. So we could do things for cancer therapy, stimulate blood vessel formation or stimulate an immune response. There are all sorts of things that can be done with that.
We also have ways of doing things for the environment.
So, we could take contaminants out of the air, take contaminants out of exhaust, decontaminate surfaces - in other words, kill bacteria or other microorganisms. So with respect to business, when you start thinking about all of these applications, all of them have direct impacts on business. This can be for potential products, commercialization. It can range from instrumentation to therapeutics to environmental applications. All of those can be done with new companies and existing companies, and we can work with them in a variety of ways.
The indirect implications are the advances in health care. So we could have workers miss less time from work, make them healthier. So that would be an advantage for businesses as well.
So where is the field?
It's maturing right now. It has really started to take off in the last two to three years. There are a lot of clinical trials that are going on right now. We're part of an international consortium of 11 bioelectric centers. Three institutions founded it - one from Japan, one from Germany and then us - and we're still considered the coordinating center, the lead center in this consortium. In 2005 when all this started happening, meetings had maybe 15, 20 people. Last year, at our meeting in Japan, we had 200 people attend it. And it wasn't just consortium members, so the word is getting out that there's a lot that can be done.
The applications, as they're growing, are attracting more people into the field. And I think to some extent, people are starting to use the technologies and aren't necessarily considering themselves in bioelectrics. (More)

McDonnell names Snow, Wagoner to VCU board of visitors
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 13, 2013)

A former U.S. Treasury secretary and an ex-chairman of General Motors will join the Virginia Commonwealth University board of visitors.
Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday filled vacancies on five university boards, including four appointments to VCU's board.
Named to four-year terms on VCU's board are:
Nancy C. Everett of Richmond, managing director for BlackRock Inc. and head of U.S. Fiduciary Management Solutions. Everett, a VCU accounting graduate, is a founding member of the VCU School of Business Foundation.
John W. Snow of Richmond, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management. Snow served as Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush and as chairman and CEO of CSX Corp.
G. Richard "Rick" Wagoner of Birmingham, Mich., former chairman and CEO of General Motors Co. Wagoner, former chair of the Duke University board of trustees, grew up in the Richmond area and graduated from J.R. Tucker High School.
Steve Worley of Harahan, La., president and CEO of Louisiana Children's Medical Center, which includes Children's Hospital, New Orleans. Worley graduated from VCU with a bachelor's in business management and a master's in business administration. ...
Named to the Old Dominion University board are Richard T. Cheng of Virginia Beach, CEO of JRC LLC; Jodi S. Gidley of Virginia Beach, president of Virginia Natural Gas, AGL Resources Inc.; Robert M. Tata of Virginia Beach, partner at Hunton & Williams; and Mary Maniscalco-Theberge of Reston, deputy medical inspector for the Veterans Health Administration. (More)

"ODU was Ed's life" Susan Miller Degnan, stepdaughter
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 14, 2013)

Edgar Alan Kovner, a long time Old Dominion University engineering technology professor, passed away June 11 in Tamarac, Fla., at age 94.
Kovner, who was called a pioneer and Renaissance man by his colleagues, referred to his career at ODU as his "educational ministry."
Born in New York City to Russian immigrant parents in 1919, he was named after the American poet and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Kovner, a lover of books and a strict grammarian, received his bachelor's degree from City College of New York in 1939 and his master's from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940, both in chemical engineering. He later earned a bachelor's degree in history from Old Dominion College in 1964.
In 1941, Kovner moved to Norfolk to serve as a marine engineer for the U.S. Navy. Two years later, he joined the faculty of the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary (now Old Dominion University) and in 1983, after more than 40 years, he retired from ODU with the title professor emeritus.
During his tenure at ODU, he served as the director of the Technical Institute (1959-1964), dean of the Division of Technology (1964-1970) and associate dean of the School of Engineering.
In his spare time, he taught courses in philosophy and history, coached the lacrosse team and played in the symphony orchestra.
"ODU was Ed's life, and he was as selfless and proud a supporter of that university as you'll ever find," said his stepdaughter Susan Miller Degnan. (More)

Coastal insurance rates rising
(Inside Business, July 12, 2013)

Coastal insurance rates continue to climb for a variety of reasons, according to a new study, and authors said the trend is poised to alter the economics of buying and inhabiting properties near the shore.
Norfolk-based Wetlands Watch conducted the study and found that increasing rates are a result of four main factors: heightened storm activity, recent lawsuits related to major hurricanes, the recession and sophisticated data on policy holders.
Wetlands Watch Executive Director Skip Stiles said if the public sector responds by capping rates, private-sector insurers may leave the market. But if rates continue to mount, coastal communities could be gentrified or hollowed out.
"That's a conversation that we need to have between the private sector, the public sector and the public at large," he said. "There are big changes coming and people are feeling it. It's not going to go away. What do we do with it?" ...
"I think it's a valuable study," said Old Dominion University professor Michael McShane, who specializes in risk management and insurance. "No one else I know of has gone that in depth on how homeowners insurance is being carried out in Virginia along the coastline."
McShane said insurers who can't charge high enough interest rates to reflect risk may abandon the area. In such scenarios, which have played out in states including Florida, property owners have to resort to unregulated higher-priced insurance or insurance subsidized by the government, often referred to as "wind pool" insurance.
"If a big hurricane comes along," McShane said, "the taxpayers are going to have to bail out these state insurance pools." (More)

Students and Navy gather for VB RoboBoat competition
(WAVY-TV/Fox43, July 12, 2013)

Engineering students from Old Dominion University and from across the world are in Virginia Beach this weekend, competing in the 6th Annual RoboBoat competition.
And the event doesn't just attract some of the brightest young minds in the world; it also has the attention of the U.S. Navy.
10 On Your Side's Art Kohn got a look at the practice rounds Friday and a glimpse into the future.
Unmanned crafts are rapidly becoming a reality in the United States Navy, and believe it or not, much of the technology is born in ponds and pools near colleges and universities.
Engineering students have taken over the pond behind the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach for the weekend, which has been transformed into laboratory of sorts for their robotic boats.
The boats navigating the course may resemble radio controlled boats, but they're not. The boats are autonomous and represent something far more significant than a toy.
"When these things are being deployed for the competition itself, there's no human intervention at all," said Daryn Davidson, Executive Director of the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Davidson says maneuverability is not the only criteria. The robotic vessels must respond to simulated threats that confront the Navy and the Coast Guard in the real world.
"They want to be able to figure out how to do these things by taking humans out of these boats and having robotic boats that are doing operations 24 / 7," Davidson said. (More)

Portsmouth's Elizabeth Duke to resign from Fed board
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 12, 2013)

Elizabeth "Betsy" Duke, a former Hampton Roads banker who has served for the past five years on the board of the Federal Reserve System, said Thursday she plans to step down from her post and return home to Virginia Beach.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, the 60-year-old Duke said her departure would be effective on or around Aug. 31.
Duke told The Pilot in a telephone interview Thursday that she was ready to leave her post now that the board has completed the framework for the capital structure required for banks in the future.
"That was the one thing I was hoping to get a chance to finish while I was here," she said.
Duke's term ended in January 2012, but she has stayed on the board under a policy that lets governors serve until they are replaced. ...
Before joining the Fed, Duke had a meteoric career in banking that started with a job as a part-time teller and culminated in her position as chief operating officer for TowneBank, the largest independent bank based in Hampton Roads. She had held executive roles at other institutions, including Wachovia Bank and the former Bank of Tidewater, which was based in Virginia Beach.
She was the first female chair of the American Bankers Association, which she headed from 2004 to 2005.
A Portsmouth native who grew up in Virginia Beach, Duke had acted in dinner theater before turning to banking. She earned an MBA from Old Dominion University while moving up the banking ladder.
She was appointed to the Fed board beginning in August 2008 by President George W. Bush. (More)

Hampton Roads foreclosure rate dipped in June
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 12, 2013)

The Hampton Roads real estate market on Thursday got a double dose of good news as it lumbers toward recovery.
The percentage of sales that were either foreclosures or short sales - a segment that's collectively considered "distressed" - dropped to a three-year low across the region, according to the Real Estate Information Network, a Virginia Beach-based multiple listing service.
And the median price of existing homes sold in South Hampton Roads in June leapt 10.6 percent to $219,500, up from $198,500 in June 2012, according to REIN's data.
It was the largest year-over-year increase in any month since the market began to recover early last year.
Vinod Agarwal, a professor of economics at Old Dominion University, said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the local recovery is picking up steam but that it's too early to say whether June's figures were an anomaly or the start of a trend.
"It's only one month," Agarwal said.
The share of distressed sales in Hampton Roads is still significantly higher than it was before 2008, Agarwal said. (More)

Putting your arms around smoke
(Currents Online, July, 2013)

Some dedicated CASE Europe volunteers surveyed alumni relations professionals earlier this year to determine how they measure their programs' success or failure. They identified a long list of indicators - the number of valid alumni email addresses on file, social network followers, volunteers, donations - but it didn't provide the all-important, bottom-line statistic: return on investment.
"Sometimes we measure things because they're easy to measure, but they really don't tell us anything," says Iain Mackinnon, a governor of Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College in the U.K.
Alumni relations professionals, consultants, and administrators say information and analytics are becoming critical success factors for the field. The data help them create the right programs for the right groups and show administrators the value of alumni relations to the institution. Yet "relations" and "engagement" aren't clear-cut concepts that alumni professionals can measure.
"In some ways, it's like trying to put your arms around smoke," says Dana Allen, assistant vice president for alumni relations at Virginia's Old Dominion University. "Our institution is so big and our alumni are engaging in so many ways [that] it's a challenge to catch every single piece of the puzzle." (More)

Southeast Newport News residents invited to share health concerns\
(The Daily Press, July 10, 2013)

How much does the environment impact health? Residents of the Southeast Community in Newport News suffer disproportionately on several health indicators and have a life expectancy lower than the state average, according to the 2012 Minority Health Report recently released by the Virginia Department of Health.
Using a two-year Environmental Protection Agency grant, the Southeast CARE (Community Action for a Renewed Environment) coalition aims to educate residents in zip codes 23605 and 23607 about their environment and how it may be affecting their health. The first of three symposiums, "Is My Neighborhood Killing Me?" will be held at the Greater Hampton Roads Boys and Girls Club on Saturday.
"The whole purpose is to build a broad-based participatory partnership and have residents prioritize their concerns," said Erica Holloman, coalition coordinator.
There are approximately 34,000 residents in the target area, which is also home to commercial port operations, coal yards, shipbuilding, Interstate 664, several different ground-fills and almost half the city's industrial operations.
Past efforts to address environmental issues in the city's Southeast corner have been hampered by a lack of community-specific data, said Holloman, citing a lack of consistent monitoring by government agencies. The coalition's partnership with Old Dominion University, which is conducting resident surveys and data analysis for the group, is expected to provide the necessary scientific data to push for improved air, soil and water quality in the area. Currently residents show disparities in emergency asthma treatments, cardiovascular issues and the incidence of diabetes, according to Anna Jeng, associate professor of environmental health at ODU.
The university's participation is filling the gap in the EPA grant, which only covers the review of existing data, rather than the collection of new data, said Jeng.
"We're collecting as much data as we can," she said. (More)

ODU news
(The Daily Press, July 11, 2013)

Retired Navy Vice Adm. David Architzel has been named military affairs director at Old Dominion University, according to Chief Operating Officer David F. Harnage.
Architzel replaces Dick Whalen, who retired in January after a 19-year stint heading the university's military affairs programs. Architzel will start work Aug. 12
As military affairs director, Architzel will be the university's contact with the Defense Department, military installations and service members. He'll also promote the university and its programs to the military community.
Architzel retired in September 2012 after more than 40 years of service. A career naval aviator, he flew more than 5,000 hours in more than 30 different types of aircraft in the fleet and as a test pilot at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. He is a New York native and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. (More)

VMI engineers' robot takes out ticks
(Richmond Times-Dispatch/Roanoke Times, July 10, 2013)

After studying tick infestations for 20 years, Holly Gaff scoffed at the idea of using robots to kill the blood-sucking, disease-causing pests.
But that was before she got her hands on one.
Gaff, a professor at Old Dominion University, recently finished the first round of experiments on technology developed by a team of Virginia Military Institute engineers. The results surprised her as much as it did those who designed it. The robot killed 75 percent of ticks during the worst trial at a wildlife preserve trail in Portsmouth. On the rest, it completely wiped out the population - all without spraying dangerous chemicals.
Gaff said before the experiment, people on the trail would find ticks on themselves within five minutes. After the robot's work, "we were able to sit in the middle and have a picnic after we ran it ... with not a tick bothering us," she said.
At a time when the number of ticks in Virginia is on the rise, and with them the diseases they carry, an environmentally friendly product like this has the potential to reshape the way experts think about pest control. Gaff said new breeds of ticks are coming here from the South and North. The bugs are a nuisance and can make you sick, most notably with Lyme disease. (More)

A model for growth
(Suffolk News-Herald, July 9, 2013)

The Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center in North Suffolk has applauded a decision to develop the state's first modeling and simulation plan.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the development of the plan Monday, saying it would seek to pinpoint modeling and simulation assets and capabilities, as well as "jumpstart collaboration and market development across Virginia."
McDonnell has joined industry participants and observers in saying that developing the industry is an important means of diversifying the economy in the face of defense budget cuts.
"There is a need for the modeling and simulation industry to expand into new and previously untargeted growth areas," he stated in a news release.
"There is a lot of data collection going on from some of the major stakeholders," including his own organization, said Thomas Reese, VMASC's director of business development.
Data collection has involved surveys and focus groups, he said, adding that two focus groups were held at VMASC Monday.
"It's a very important step in the right direction. It helps inform us how to proceed ... and how to make Virginia a hotbed for modeling and simulation," he said.
"This is not the first study, but this is the first statewide study."
The modeling and simulation industry will grow the economy in ways yet to be envisaged, Reese said, citing as an example how the iPhone has generated unanticipated opportunities.
Reese described VMASC, part of Old Dominion University, as a "major stakeholder in the growth of modeling and simulation," as well as a major contributor and a major benefactor.
Through VMASC, ODU is the nation's only university with undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs in modeling and simulation, he said. (More)

Troubleshooter: Newport News woman grapples with customer service nightmare
(WVEC-TV, July 9, 2013)

Jamila Way wonders if good customer service is a thing of the past.
The Newport News resident is moving with her family to Kansas City, Missouri and she reserved a truck and car dolly from Budget. Three days later before she was scheduled to leave, she went to familiarize herself with the equipment. She was stunned when she was told the equipment wasn't available and may not be available later.
"I went on Tuesday to check on my reservation. My reservation was for Friday, so I went way in advance for the time it was expected and they knew at that time it wasn't going to be available. They knew already," she stated.
Way says she was told to call Budget customer care and the inventory departments, but she said no one could assure her the equipment would be available on her reserved pick-up date. ...
Dr. John Ford, the director of the PhD program for the Business Administration department at Old Dominion University, teaches customer service. He says when customers aren't happy with service, it's imperative that companies try to make things right.
"Why is that customer so important? Because in the future, they will increase the amount that they purchase on average and they will spread the word," he contends.
Ford says research shows it's five times more expensive to attract a new customer than to keep an old one, so companies are putting more effort into building customer loyalty.
Ford says customers need to realize how much power they have and always speak up if they are not satisfied. If you have a problem, ask to speak to a manager, write a letter or e-mail to corporate about bad experiences. He suggests you take good notes on conversations with customer service agents and always be friendly. (More)

Va. Beach hires 2 sports marketers to attract amateur sporting events
(WVEC-TV, July 9, 2013)

Virginia Beach has hired two new sports marketing sales managers in an effort to attract conventions and amateur sporting events to the Beach.
The managers, Dani Timm and Matthew Robinette, both have prior sports marketing experience and will travel the nation trying to attract business.
"Together, they will help their team "Bring it to the Beach" and position Virginia Beach as the ideal destination for sporting events," according to the Convention & Visitors Bureau Sports Marketing Director Nancy Helman.
Timm graduated from the University of Iowa and spent more than eight years doing sports marketing for Round Rock, Texas.
Robinette has been the Virginia Beach Sports Marketing Event Supervisor for the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the past six years.
(Stephen Shapiro, ODU assistant professor of sport management, was interviewed in this story).

Portsmouth marketing focuses on potential residents
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 10, 2013)

For the past three years, the city's economic development department has targeted a surprising industry - people.
The department has put most of its $115,000 marketing budget into an effort to attract new residents to the city.
City Council members had directed the focus in 2010 because the city's population was shrinking.
And fewer people means dwindling tax dollars and fewer shoppers for the retailers that city leaders hope to lure into town, according to Patrick J. Small, the city's economic development director. ...
And Portsmouth has a reputation for being affordable.
Home sale prices are lower in the old seaport, according to the Real Estate Information Network and Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Project.
In 2012, the median sale price for an existing home was $78,000 less than the Hampton Roads median. For new construction, it was about $65,000 less. (More)

ODU arrives in the big time
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, July 9, 2013)

Old Dominion University has kicked off a new era with its official move to Conference USA and the first rank of collegiate football.
It marks a swift ascent for a football program that's only four years old. The success from here will be measured in part by whether the university's athletic programs continue on this dizzying trajectory.
As reported by The Pilot's Harry Minium, ODU made the decision to change conferences with deliberate speed.
Other teams' decisions to leave the Colonial Athletic Association left ODU wondering about the strength of the conference and the quality of its competition. So, within a little more than six weeks, Old Dominion assessed its options and made the jump to C-USA and the NCAA's top football subdivision.
Like any big move, the change comes with challenges. ODU's teams will travel farther to compete, and it will cost them more to get there. ...
University President John Broderick has said student fees won't be raised to pay for the move; that pledge must endure for more than a year. Last year, ODU athletics programs generated a profit of more than $840,000; another measure of success will be whether ODU improves that bottom line.
ODU has tried to approach the change with smarts. It has hired a consultant to help it with a comprehensive plan to guide growth - for all parts of campus, not just for the athletic facilities and programs.
That indicates that ODU already recognizes its strengths and its future continue to lie with its academic programs and the partnerships it has forged there. Big time college football complements that mission, but it is not the mission in itself. (More)

Smithfield Acquisition a Boost to U.S. Economy
(Video, Fox Business, July 2, 2013)

(Old Dominion University professor Shaomin Li was interviewed in a story about the acquisition of Smithfield Foods by Chinese company Shuangui Holdings).

Suffolk housing agency to issue first bonds in decade
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 9, 2013)

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority is poised to earn money to help with funding shortfalls as it reenters the bond business after a decade long hiatus.
The agency plans to issue up to $5.5 million in bonds for the acquisition and rehabilitation of Wilson Pines Apartments, an affordable-housing community on East Washington Street, to be developed by a subsidiary of North Carolina-based Silver Street Development Corp.
The issuance, which still needs City Council approval, would be the first since 2003, when the housing authority allocated $10 million in bonds for an apartment complex in Henrico County.
State law allows a housing authority to leverage its tax-exempt status to issue tax-free bonds to spur construction or renovation of affordable housing throughout the state, and the agency isn't on the hook for repayment. ...
The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority last issued $56 million in bonds in 2008 for 258 student housing units at Old Dominion University. Authority spokesman Ed Ware said the agency would like to do more of the once-common deals, but the economy has limited them in the past few years.
The Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority last issued $22 million in 2007 for apartments in the Great Bridge area. Dewayne Alford, the agency's deputy executive director, said business tapered off when interest rates on traditional loans hovered near all-time lows. (More)