Week of 9/3/13
Modeling & Simulation
(Audio, Virginia Public Radio, Sept. 3, 2013)
Many pilots learned how to fly and surgeons how to make incisions by engaging in some type of "modeling and simulation" program developed by a group of engineers.
But while "modeling and simulation" is now becoming its own profession, in Virginia few schools provide a course of study needed to train and retain these specialized engineers.
This is not a Virginia-specific problem. Old Dominion University is one of only three universities nationwide that provides a Modeling and Simulation graduate program, and it's the ONLY one in the nation with an undergraduate program. John Sokolowski with ODU says these engineers are in high demand, but very few students know it.
The Modeling and Simulation Advisory Council is not only trying to expand the curriculum to other state colleges and universities, but it's also trying to spur more student interest. Sokolowski says it's relatively easy for students who are already engineering majors to switch majors-and for those who aren't, depending on the major, the student can enroll in a certificate program, which allows them to minor or obtain certification in M&S and apply it to their professions. (More)
McAuliffe outlines plan for education
(WAVY-TV, Sept. 3, 2013)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will appear at Old Dominion University Tuesday morning.
The candidate will meet with students from the Darden School for Education around 9 a.m. at the Komblau Alumni Center Atrium.
He plans to speak about his plans to support the Commonwealth's education center should he be elected governor.
McAuliffe faces Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis in November. (More)
Va. Beach travels far to drum up business in city
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 2, 2013)
The itinerary was hefty - a tour of four European countries during two weeks in June.
Munich. Prague. Brussels. The Netherlands. More German cities. Meals at traditional beer gardens and stays at $250-a-night hotels.
But instead of sightseeing, Scott Hall's agenda was filled with business lunches and meetings with company representatives. Rather than taking bus tours through the European countryside, he drove hours outside of his destination cities to tour factories and make more business connections, logging 2,500 miles on rented Ford and Audi station wagons.
His boss, Warren Harris, met him a week into the trip. By the end, the two had tallied at least $12,000 in transportation, lodging and food costs, according to travel records obtained by The Virginian-Pilot.
The city paid the bill. Hall is a business development coordinator with the city's Department of Economic Development, and Harris is its director. ...
Gary Wagner, a professor of economics with Old Dominion University's Economic Forecasting Project, isn't sold on whether the cost of international recruitment trips is worth it. Cities pursue overseas companies that are already a good fit for their economies, Wagner said.
"The question then becomes, 'Would they have come here anyway?'" Wagner said. No academic research has proved the effectiveness of this travel, he said.
City economic development officials are quick to say their efforts have been successful. (More)
Verlander pitches in with wallet for Norfolk veterans
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 2, 2013)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has committed $1 million to assist veterans in Norfolk, Richmond and Detroit.
The former Old Dominion University baseball standout said in a news release that his vision for the initiative, called Wins for Warriors, "is to help erase the stigma around veterans and their families that seek mental health services."
His donation will help fund two organizations that work with current and former military personnel: Give an Hour, which encourages civilian mental health professionals across the nation to provide free services to service members and families, and The Mission Continues, which awards community service fellowships to veterans to help them transition into post-military careers.
The effort will be concentrated in Richmond, where Verlander grew up; in Norfolk, where he attended college; and in Detroit, where he currently lives.
"Those are my home bases," Verlander said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
This isn't his first effort to give back to veterans. For the past few years, he's invited wounded veterans to his luxury suite at the Detroit ballpark to watch games when he's the starting pitcher.
He wants to use Wins for Warriors to help on a larger scale.
"These men and women that serve for us overseas, when they come home, they're taught to be big and strong," Verlander said during the interview. "They need help sometimes." (More)
Dorm sweet dorm
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 1, 2013)
MATCHING SLEEP masks hang from a tri-fold mirror atop a dresser between two raised twin beds.
A leopard-print comforter with hot-pink sheets and decorative pillows adorn one of the beds; a homemade multi-colored quilt sewn by grandma with love covers the other.
Scotland House on Old Dominion University's campus is home sweet home - and a world away from their parents' houses - for freshmen Maya Bright and Tyra Rounds this academic year.
Best friends since middle school, the young women from Chesapeake (the pair graduated from Grassfield High School in June) decided to room together, which meant shopping for the right stuff to make their dorm accommodations a home.
Everything fit, the girls said together, after a stress-free move last week.
For thousands of freshmen, living in a college dorm is a rite of passage - from the comfort and security of life with mom and dad, to a life bunking with their peers, transitioning into adulthood.
While many decorated their bedrooms at home, the dorm room is their first foray into the real world of future apartments and, one day, homeownership.
Many, like Bright and Rounds, spent the summer coordinating colors, searching for the right lamps, pillows and rugs to accent the often-drab university rooms, which typically have no leeway for permanent decorations.
Students and decorators alike know how important it is to make that first space their own while maintaining the perfect spot to study and chill out. It just takes some thought. (More)
The Asian-North Atlantic Race for Greenland
(Opinion, International Relations and Security Network, Sept. 2, 2013)
By Jan Nalaskowski
Recently Greenland has demonstrated more political self-confidence. It also keeps attracting increased attention from international actors, even those not present in the Arctic before (Australia, China and South Korea). There are several factors responsible for this change in the island's status. The strategic importance of Greenland stems from its location in the Arctic, particularly with the existence of new shipping routes, which are exceptionally attractive for East Asian countries. What is more, Greenland is the natural laboratory for research on climate change, potentially useful to other countries in their response to modern challenges.
But most importantly, the island possesses enormous amounts of resources, including fresh water, oil, gas, uranium, iron ore and rare-earth elements. Empowered in 2009 with the Self Rule Act, Greenland is entitled to manage its own resources policy. As a consequence, some fear that the island will become a "Trojan Horse" for Chinese extensive investment in the rare-earth elements market.
Making use of granted autonomy and responding to the growing interest, Greenlandic government performs various political actions, trying to maximize prospective gains. This is a completely new situation, where lucrative resources potential can simply slip away from Denmark, Europe and the North Atlantic area. For example, the Greenlandic assembly voted in December 2012 in favor of relaxing regulations on mining firms. The plan to invite foreign investors to develop mining industry was further pursued by Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist, aiming to attract extensive, international interest. The mineral agreement with China met protests from the European Union, but in January this year Kleist refused to implement any preferential treatment for Brussels in exploiting rare-earth resources.
On the other hand, the new government of former opposition leader Aleqa Hammond has recently started to implement a more cautious political program. Aiming to assure Greenlandic employment, it emphasizes that foreign labor force should be minimized and therefore many drilling agreements will not further be concluded. It is believed that allowing extensive Chinese involvement could in the long run undermine attractiveness for investment in Greenland, as the rare-elements market is already monopolized by China.
Jan Nalaskowski is PhD Fulbright student at Graduate Program in International Studies, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. (More)
ODU coach says Monarchs made good impression
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 3, 2013)
Coach Bobby Wilder said ODU made a good impression Saturday in its first game against a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
The Monarchs were competitive until the final minutes of a 52-38 defeat at East Carolina. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke accounted for 390 yards of total offense.
"We wanted to make a statement nationally that we could compete in FBS, and we did," Wilder said.
But as the Monarchs prepare for a bigger challenge Saturday, when they travel to Maryland for their first game against an ACC team, Wilder said there's no such thing as moral victories.
"As much as everyone has been very gracious in congratulating us about being in the game, and keeping it so close against a very good football team, we didn't win," he said. "There's only so much you can take from a loss.
"Nothing makes a statement like winning. We want to win at Maryland."
The defense wasn't particularly competitive with ECU, allowing 481 yards. Wilder said it must improve for ODU to have a chance at Maryland. (More)
Elizabeth Duke looks back on her time at Federal Reserve
(Richmond Times-Dispatch/The Associated Press, Sept. 3, 2013)
The work started half an hour into her term on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors.
After taking the oath of office in August 2008, Elizabeth A. "Betsy" Duke whisked into her first meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and her new colleagues.
The Portsmouth native and former TowneBank executive didn't know it at the time, but the nation's worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression was unfolding.
Within six weeks, home lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would fall into conservatorship, the venerable Lehman Brothers investment banking firm would fail, and she would make what she calls the most dramatic decision of her Fed career. ...
Before her nomination to the Fed by President George W. Bush, Duke was chief operating officer for TowneBank, the largest independent bank based in Hampton Roads.
She had held executive roles at other institutions, including the former Wachovia Bank and the former Bank of Tidewater, which was based in Virginia Beach. Along the way, she earned an MBA from Old Dominion University.
Colleagues have described her as affable yet straightforward, and trustworthy. (More)
Exercise Boosts Health From the Start
(Diabetes Forecast, Aug. 29, 2013)
One step in front of the other-that's all it takes to start getting fit. Even so, for people who don't exercise, that first step can seem like a giant leap. Only 1 out of 5 people in the United States exercises for the recommended 150 minutes per week, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Looking for motivation? Try focusing on exercise's immediate benefits instead of taking the long view. Research shows that every time you exercise, your body gets a quick health boost. This goes double for people with diabetes because of extra blood glucose benefits. "We are realizing more and more how exercise is like a medicine," says Barry Braun, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. "You take it in a dose, it has an effect, and, over time, it wears off. Then you have to take it again."
Exercise is a particularly effective medication for people with diabetes, and here's the nice thing: Its benefits are the same whether you are a marathon runner or a couch potato. "It doesn't matter if you are trained or untrained," says Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD, professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. "The reason it's helpful for everyone ... is that you have two mechanisms to get blood glucose out of your bloodstream." And exercise revs up them both.
The first route to lower blood glucose levels is via insulin, a hormone that ushers glucose from the blood into the body's cells, where it can be processed into energy. But people with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant, meaning their cells are less responsive to insulin. Exercise temporarily lessens the cells' resistance. "If you exercise for 30 minutes, then you have improved insulin action from two to 72 hours after," says Colberg-Ochs. (More)
Officials prepare for football traffic
(The Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC), Aug. 30, 2013)
As the East Carolina University football team readies for its first game of the season on Saturday, officials are preparing for traffic and other potential hazards.
With 45,000 to 48,000 fans expected to attend the 7 p.m. game against Old Dominion University, the ECU Police Department has instated several new security and safety measures this year to protect spectators and motorists.
Lt. Chris Sutton said the department will use dogs that can detect explosives to screen the stadium area and other facilities the day before and the day of every game. Dogs have been used before on a spot basis only, he said.
More than 100 law enforcement officers from ECU, Greenville, Pitt County, Winterville, Pitt Community College, Vidant Medical Center, Bethel, the State Highway Patrol and Pinehurst will be in and around the stadium for the game. (More)
Hokie Bird faces off with rival mascots
(The Collegiate Times, Aug. 29, 2013)
For the third time since its inauguration in 2002, the Capital One Bowl Mascot Challenge announced that the Hokie Bird will be competing for the top prize as the best mascot in all of college football.
In 2010, the competition opened the challenge to 16 participants however the Hokie Bird had yet to make an appearance. The challenge is set up in a weekly football-style format, where two mascots go head-to-head per week. Currently, the Hokie Bird is leading against Wilbur T. Wildcat from the University of Arizona by 99 percent in its week one matchup. Next week, the Hokie Bird will be squaring off against PeeDee the Pirate from East Carolina University.
The award includes a $20,000 scholarship to the winning school's mascot fund, donated by Capital One, and $5,000 for being nominated. ...
Last year, Raider Red from Texas Tech University came out on top. As of now, there has only been one mascot that has won multiple challenges: Monte from the University of Montana. In Virginia, the only school to win the challenge was Big Blue from Old Dominion University in 2010. (More)
TowneBank makes staff changes
(Suffolk News-Herald, Aug. 29, 2013)
TowneBank has announced two new hires and two promotions at its facilities in North Suffolk.
Mike Berry and Katy Rowell have recently joined the company. David Patterson and Angela Shealy recently earned promotions. ...
Shealy has been promoted to assistant vice president. She is a senior business analyst and is based at the Member Service Center in Suffolk.
Shealy has six years of industry experience. She is a graduate of Old Dominion University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Tidewater Chapter of Certified Public Accountants. (More)
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander commits $1 million to support Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families
(The Detroit Tigers, Aug. 28, 2013)
Detroit Tigers All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander joined the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, to announce a commitment of $1 million to launch an initiative called Wins for Warriors that will support the mental health and emotional well-being of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and their families in Detroit, Richmond and Norfolk.
Growing up outside of Richmond, Virginia, and pitching for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia Justin was surrounded by two of the largest military populations in the country. Reports indicate that as many as one in three Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who experience combat will eventually experience significant mental health challenges. Sadly, many don't seek help because of the stigma associated with receiving mental health care. Justin expressed, "my vision is to help erase the stigma around Veterans and their families that seek mental health services and join together to provide the support they need."
Wins for Warriors is devoted to sustaining successful programs that work with Veterans and their families along the process to recovery because one size does not fit all. Over the next year, funds will be distributed to two best-in-class national organizations, Give An Hour and The Mission Continues, that have the expertise to have a long term impact on this population in the target markets.
"The Detroit Tigers organization commends Justin for the launch of his Wins for Warriors program and his overall dedication to Veterans and their families in Detroit, Norfolk and Richmond," said Tigers President, CEO and General Manager David Dombrowski. "Justin's new initiative is another example of his commitment to helping those Veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country." (More)
Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander donating $1 million for war veterans
(Detroit Free Press, Aug. 28, 2013)
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander announced today that he is committing $1 million to provide mental-health support to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who live in Detroit and two cities in his native Virginia, Richmond and Norfolk.
"One in three veterans post-9/11 needs support," Verlander said. "They face challenges when they return that most people don't understand. These men and women are taught to be brave and strong. When they come home, they're not going to be the first ones to say they need help. We need to try to help these men and women."
Verlander's program, which is called Wins for Warriors, will contribute money to two national organizations. They are Give an Hour, which asks mental health professionals throughout the country to donate an hour a week to provide free services to military personnel, and The Mission Continues, which awards community-service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans. (More)
ODU professor talks about Syrian crisis
(WAVY-TV, Aug. 28, 2013)
A professor at Old Dominion University told WAVY.com he's worried about former colleagues in Syria, as the conflict there intensified Wednesday.
In the 1990s, Dr. Donald Smith taught in Syria at Aleppo University, which was bombed earlier this year. He said when he sees recent images of dying Syrian civilians, he imagines the worst for the people he knows who are there.
Smith said he is saddened he has not heard from a former student in more than a year and has no idea where she is.
"If she could connect, she would connect," he said.
Watching the country where he lived go through a two-year conflict that has killed more than 100 thousand people has been hard for Smith.
"The people out there, every day that you ran into, are lovely people. They're just like people anywhere else," Smith said.
On Wednesday, U.N. chemical weapons experts took samples from several victims of last week's alleged poison gas attack. They hope to confirm if the people killed died from exposure to the gas.
Smith said it's not clear what the U.S. and other countries should do about the conflict.
"There are no easy solutions to the problem," Smith said. "Whatever we do will kill more people." (More)
A century of service: Air Force shapes family legacy
(DVIDS.mil, Aug. 27, 2013)
From a young age, Patrice Allen treasured memories of her military family.
"While my dad was in Vietnam, we would send cassettes back and forth in the mail. We couldn't see him but we could talk to each other," she said. "That year of my dad being gone showed that my parents were strong, determined and could do anything, making us a close-knit family."
Through their collective 100 years of civil and military service in the Air Force, the Berry family's pride and dedication to their military family served as a foundation to shape their own lives. Their military mindedness and patriotism also helped to create a stronger connection to the Air Force community. ...
Patrice said seeing her mother balance work all day, then come home and be dedicated to her family inspired her to develop her own work ethic. After she graduated from Old Dominion University in 1983 Patrice applied for a civil service internship.
"My mother found an application for [a civil service] intern program and encouraged me to apply," said Patrice. "At the time, I wasn't thinking about longevity of what I was going to be for the rest of my life, but she planned that for me." (More)
GSA Today Science: Biofilms, MISS, and Stromatolites
(Alpha-Galileo, Aug. 28, 2013)
In the September issue of GSA Today, Nora Noffke of Old Dominion University and Stan Awramik of the University of California, Santa Barbara, describe the interaction of carpet-like communities of benthic microorganisms (biofilms) with sediment dynamics at the sediment-water interface to form distinctive sedimentary structures called microbialites.
The best known microbialite structures are stromatolites -- multilayered microbialites up to meters in thickness, built up by repetitive binding, biostabilization, baffling, and trapping of sediment particles by microorganisms, coupled with carbonate precipitation. In the absence of such precipitation, however, these processes result in the formation of very characteristic microbially induced sedimentary structures, or "MISS," best seen on sediment surfaces.
Both stromatolites and MISS are first found in the early Archean, more than three billion years ago, recording highly evolved microbial activity quite early in Earth's history. Whereas the stromatolites show enormous morphologic and taxonomic variation, MISS have remained essentially unchanged with time. MISS may be the older relative, but due to the paucity of well-preserved sedimentary rocks older than three billion years, the origin of both stromatolites and MISS remains uncertain. (More)
A New Weapon in the War on Ticks
(The New Yorker, Aug. 26, 2013)
In 2006, a friend of James Squire handed him a child's toy, a remote-controlled vehicle with tank tracks instead of wheels, that he had picked up for free at a conference, and suggested that Squire find something interesting to do with it. Squire stared at it for a while. He soon found himself thinking about ticks. He'd recently discovered a few of the small arachnids on the skin of his eighteen-month-old son and had plucked several from his dog. Meanwhile, Lyme disease seemed to be exploding. He wondered if he could make a robot that would roam the outdoors and kill ticks. ...
After receiving the tank toy, seven years ago, Squire huddled with David Livingston, a friend and officemate at V.M.I. and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, to brainstorm designs for a mobile robot that could destroy ticks. "Our first ideas were what most people would try to come up with," Livingston said. "Build an arm to grab the ticks, or squash them." Then Squire called Daniel Sonenshine, a tick expert at the nearby Old Dominion University, who had written one of the most comprehensive texts in the field, the two-volume "Biology of Ticks." He said that Squire was thinking about the problem all wrong. ...
Encouraged, the team continued to tweak the robot's design. Last year, they decided that it was ready for a more rigorous test, at the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, a hundred-and-forty-two-acre sanctuary in Portsmouth, Virginia. The preserve is so tick-infested-in particular by "lone star" ticks, which are extremely aggressive and cause ehrlichiosis, a set of bacterial diseases similar to Lyme-that local schools no longer book field trips there. "More than forty per cent of the ticks we collect in a year, we collect from this one site," said Holly Gaff, a tick biologist at Old Dominion. (More)
Artist's sketchbook: Bringing ice to an ice breaker
(Coast Guard Compass, Aug. 27, 2013)
Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy are currently supporting scientific research in the dynamic waters of the north on their Arctic West Summer 2013 deployment. As watchstsanders and scientists alike collaborate to collect vital scientific data, they are joined by artist Bob Selby. This week's sketchbook takes you inside Healy's nerve center and even lets you off the polar ice breaker to get core samples and to harvest the ice. There's just one week left until "Artist's sketchbook" is complete so catch up on the journey while you can! ...
Ian Salter. Dr. Ian Salter, currently a visiting professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, can be found laboring over his apparatus at all hours of the day and night in one of Healy's starboard laboratories. A native of Sheffield, England, Salter is on the faculty at the University of Pierre Et Marie Curie in Banyuls Sur Mer, France. (More)
Early stuttering common, not tied to development issues
(Reuters Health/Medline Plus, Aug. 27, 2013)
More than one in 10 children had a stutter by age four in a new Australian study, but those kids scored just as high or higher than their peers on assessments of language, thinking skills and temperament.
"Stuttering onset is relatively common but parents can be reassured that developmental stuttering is not associated with poorer outcome in the preschool years at least," Sheena Reilly, the study's lead author from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Parkville, said.
The researchers said the frequency of stuttering among their preschoolers - about 11 percent - was higher than in previous studies, perhaps because they started following the children very early in life. ...
Corrin Richels, a speech-language pathologist who has studied stuttering at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, said it wasn't all that surprising preschoolers who stuttered didn't tend to be worse off in other ways.
She said most of the anxiety and other problems that have been tied to stuttering are seen among teenagers and adults.
"The adverse outcomes come from being a person who stutters over a long period of time," Richels, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.
The researchers said parents of children who stutter are typically advised to wait a year before seeking treatment - which can be both time-intensive and expensive - to see if the stutter goes away on its own, unless the child becomes distressed or stops talking.
Richels said the new findings support that approach.
"The good thing is, we can now counsel families whose children have just begun to stutter that it is okay to wait," she said. (More)
Here's the skinny on TV broadcast of ODU-ECU game
(The Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 27, 2013)
More than a dozen Old Dominion fans contacted me recently to ask what television channel will carry the ODU-East Carolina football game this weekend.
I replied to most that it will be on Cox Communications channel 114.
But then came a text from my next door neighbor, Mary Ann Grogan: "There is no channel 114."
She's correct, so I contacted Emma Inman, a Cox Communications spokeswoman, and asked her to explain.
The explanation is fairly simply. Cox received permission to telecast the game from Fox College Sports Atlantic, a network Cox does not currently carry. Cox is creating a channel to televise the game.
Channel 114 will be up and running by Thursday with a promotion about Saturday's game, she said. The game begins at 7 p.m. Saturday.
In order to receive the game on Cox you need to have Essential Digital service, including a digital receiver.
Cox Communications, the dominant provider of cable TV in Hampton Roads, serves 329,688 households in the region.
Verizon FiOS, which serves 131,771 homes, and DirecTV, in 80,711 households, both carry Fox College Sports and will televise the game.
The game can be seen on FiOS channel 300, according to its listings. ODU officials said DirecTV will carry the game on channels 617, 623 and 626. (More)
Seeking clarity from NSU's leaders
(Editorial: The Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 27, 2013)
A majority of Norfolk State University's governing board voted late last week to fire President Tony Atwater, ending his two-year tenure without citing a cause.
In a statement emailed by a university spokeswoman, Rector Thomas Chewning explained the action by noting only that Norfolk State "faces several operational and academic challenges."
That's true. But the lack of transparency does little good for Norfolk State as it tries to fix long-standing systemic problems. It also sends the wrong message to highly qualified executives who might otherwise consider taking the helm at Norfolk State and steering the institution toward more stable ground...
Atwater has maintained Norfolk State is not in crisis, that he needs more time. But two years into his three-year contract, he was still assembling parts of his senior leadership team. Enrollment was flat last year and has declined about 6 percent this fall.
Still, the governing board's abrupt and opaque action last week makes it more difficult for the university to move on. After he was fired, Atwater noted the board's failure to provide a cause.
He suggested his dismissal was politically motivated and said concerns about the audits and the nursing program provided a pretext for merging NSU with cross-town rival Old Dominion University.
An ODU spokeswoman insisted there has been no discussion of a merger, and Del. Lionell Spruill, a Chesapeake Democrat and one of Norfolk State's biggest defenders, said Atwater owed the public an apology. (More)
Advice for potential NSU presidents: Rent, don't buy
(Column, The Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 27, 2013)
Norfolk State University's quick-trigger supervisory body must have an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu.
Barely two years after Tony Atwater started his tenure as president, the NSU Board of Visitors fired him and must search - yet again - for a chief executive.
And several members who were on the board that unanimously selected Atwater, including then-Rector Ed Hamm, voted Friday to get rid of him. NSU will still be on the hook to pay the president's base salary of $295,000 through June 2014, when Atwater's contract ends...
He was the first permanent NSU president with experience as a college president. However, his tenure at Indiana University of Pennsylvania ended badly, after the faculty gave him a vote of no confidence. He had been criticized for spending millions of dollars on capital projects.
NSU Rector Thomas Chewning declined, through a spokeswoman, to my request for an interview Monday. Other board members either couldn't be reached or didn't return my phone calls.
Two officials who did comment were Lionell Spruill Sr. and Chris Jones, state delegates from our region who sit on the Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission. They had learned of NSU's failure to turn in audits on time.
Spruill, a NSU alumnus and Chesapeake legislator, said it's tough to request funding for the university when officials "can't get their act together to get the audits done." Spruill didn't oppose the removal of Atwater, but he also criticized the Board of Visitors: "You don't have members on the board, in my opinion, that have Norfolk State's best interests at heart."
And he flatly denied there was any truth to the claim by Atwater, in a televised interview Friday night, that the state is contemplating a possible merger of NSU and Old Dominion University. That's an explosive charge, especially to alumni of both schools. (More)
Background revealed on NSU president's firing
(WAVY, Aug. 27, 2013)
After just two years as Norfolk State University President, Dr. Tony Atwater was fired Friday evening. Now WAVY.com has more information on what led to the dismissal he said he didn't know was coming.
"My termination was sudden, unexpected, and disappointing," said Atwater on Friday after his dismissal.
Suffolk Delegate Chris Jones wasn't surprised at all. He knew last Wednesday that Atwater's dismissal would be discussed at Friday's Board of Visitors meeting. Jones, however, did not know the board would vote 7-4 to fire Atwater on the spot.
Serving on the House of Delegates Sub Committee on Higher Education, a member of the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee, as well as a budget conferee, Jones helps determine where state money goes to support Virginia schools. He has been very aware of the goings on of NSU, and painted a picture of Atwater as a president out of touch with what was going on at the school...
Communication was a problem, too. Jones said he was amazed at the poor communication between the Atwater Administration and the Board of Visitors that oversees the school.
"I was shocked that the Board of Visitors did not know the Nursing School had lost certification, and it had to learn about the problem from a third party," Jones said.
"I was told by reliable sources that there are conversations in Richmond about a merger of Norfolk State and Old Dominion University," Atwater said on Friday.
WAVY.com asked Del. Jones about a possible merger and if there had been any serious conversations about it.
"I was very surprised to hear that. I was almost shocked," Jones said. "No ... and that's something I would hear... I would be involved with the discussion, if it were to occur. That has never been discussed, whether the schools will merge." (More)