Week of 9/9/13
Sen. Kaine holds roundtable with veterans in Norfolk
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 7, 2013)
Sen. Tim Kaine looked around the table Friday at a roomful of men and women who know firsthand what war entails and put forth his stance on U.S. military action against Syria.
One: If the U.S. doesn't launch an attack on Syria, President Bashar Assad will only be emboldened to continue using chemical weapons, he said.
Two: It is the role of Congress, not the president, to authorize war.
The first-term senator and former Virginia governor held a roundtable with nearly two dozen veterans at Old Dominion University on Friday to discuss the question of war powers - an issue that has grown more pressing after Assad's presumed use of chemical weapons killed more than 1,400 people in Syria on Aug. 21.
"It's been a thorny issue, constitutionally," Kaine said. "Presidents have often overreached and Congress has decided to let them because they don't want to go on the board and be accountable for their vote."
Kaine, a Democrat, said that as a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, he has been privy to classified briefings and was convinced by the evidence that Assad violated global laws governing war.
He's convinced, he said, that action against Assad is necessary - and that given the reluctance of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Security Council to throw their support behind President Barack Obama's call for a punitive response, it will only happen if the U.S. spearheads an attack. (More)
Kaine holds roundtable at ODU
(Video, WAVY-TV, Sept. 6, 2013)
Sen. Tim Kaine will meet with veterans and students at Old Dominion University Friday to discuss war powers.
"Kaine has taken an active role on this issue, having announced efforts in July to reform the 1973 War Powers Resolution in a way that lays out a clear consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action," his office said in a release.
The roundtable discussion is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Webb Center. WAVY News' Art Kohn will attend the discussion. (More)
Students voice their stance on Syria
(Video, WAVY-TV Sept. 8, 2013)
Students at Old Dominion University are taking a stance on Syria. Protesters gathered on the main lawn Sunday to speak out against a United States military strike. This comes as President Obama waits for the approval of Congress.
Protesters told WAVY.com they are war weary.
"I am really against the war in Syria that we are already involved in, I think. And I want to do whatever I can to help keep us from escalating it," said Richard Bennett, a protester.
The protesters handed out anti-war flyers that listed contact information for local representatives. (More)
Early ed group to make two announcements
(Inside Business, Sept. 6, 2013)
Elevate Early Education, a statewide lobbying group with local roots, plans to make what officials say are two big announcements at a social event Monday night.
President and CEO Lisa Howard said the first announcement is a multimillion dollar project and the second is a partnership with Old Dominion University. She declined to give further specifics until the official announcement.
"The projects that we will announce will advance early education not only here in our region but in the commonwealth," she said.
"We believe this will be a platform for policy change."
The "mix and mingle" event is intended to be a celebration for Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, an advocacy group that ignited various early education initiatives in the region.
Howard, who is also president and CEO of SBSHR, said the organization is closing at the end of the month after roughly eight years of service. (More)
Delegates celebrate higher ed with governor
(The Progress-Index (Petersburg), Sept. 9, 2013)
Two local delegates rallied with Gov. Bob McDonnell to celebrate enhanced higher funding for colleges during his tenure.
Delegate Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, joined the Grow By Degrees Coalition for events across in Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk, and Delegate Rosalyn Dance, D.-Petersburg, attended an event in Richmond.
"They really try to turn the focus on jobs, and especially kids getting jobs out of college," Cox said of the group. Founded in 2009 by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Grow By Degrees includes public officials, college and business leaders advocating for reinvestment after years of cuts and rising tuition. A major push was held Thursday, with events at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia Biotechnology Research Park in Richmond and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke.
"The main thing is, we've put about $400 million into higher ed since 2011. That's great," Cox said. "The other thing we've really been calling for is reform in higher ed. We want to make sure the money is spent efficiently. We want them to make sure we're not just adding money," but that the colleges are examining ways to stretch a dollar, especially in terms of graduation rates and student retention.
Dance, chief co-patron with Cox of the 2011 legislation, said it was a broad, bipartisan measure.
"That one of those few rare instances in which everyone was on one accord, that this was important," she said. As McDonnell rounds out his single term as governor, candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli have outlined their support, Cox and Dance said. (More)
From Russia with a Love of Classical Music
(Veer, Sept. 9, 2013)
On September 27, Andrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn will celebrate their 10th anniversary as the Invencia Duo with a free concert at Chandler Recital Hall on the campus of Old Dominion University, where each is a professor of music. The Duo will perform selected works from Chopin, Bowles, Gottschalk and, perhaps most timely, Florent Schmitt.
In May of this year, Invencia Duo released a studio recording of the composer's work titled Florent Schmitt: Piano Duet & Duo Works, Vol. 1. Distributed on the Naxo record label, the Kasparov and Lutsyshyn team received widespread, international accolades from music reviewers.
The American Record Guide wrote, "Schmitt's extensive oeuvre for two pianists could have no better musicians, and I eagerly await the remaining three volumes in this series."
The Naxo label describes the album's value this way: "Winner of the Prix de Rome in 1900, Florent Schmitt stands alongside Debussy and Ravel as one of the most original and influential French composers of his time. This is the first of four volumes including unpublished work and rarities for piano duo and duet, each representing Schmitt's rich harmonic palette and good humored lyricism." (More)
She's an inspiration - Jagdish Singh
(Inside Business, Sept. 6, 2013)
Jagdish Singh tells story after story of the lives that she's touched - and touched her - during her life's journey.
here's the man who was imprisoned after being wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit, the young cancer patient who needed funds to qualify for treatment, the child with a cleft palate who traveled from India for surgery, and the young Afghan soldier who lost both legs helping fight the Taliban and sought asylum in the United States.
But, there are two stories that Singh experienced in her own life that turned her into the inspirational woman she is today and continue to fuel her fire toward creating a world with love - not hate.
"My compassion about helping others was inborn, I think," said Singh, now 77. "I remember at the age of 5 in the village, there were Muslims and untouchables. I used to play with all of them." ...
The first one in her family to go to college, Singh, who earned a bachelor's in education from Baring Union Christian College in Batala, India, and later a master's degree in education, guidance and counseling from Old Dominion University, speaks proudly of her accomplishments - although she says it is God working through her.
"I understood, as I got older, that my grandfather didn't want me to play with them because to him, they were not worthy," Singh said. "That created a revolution in my mind." (More)
More state spending sought for Va. higher education
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 6, 2013)
Touting the economic benefits of higher education, a coalition of business leaders launched a lobbying effort Thursday to promote sustained state support of Virginia's public colleges and universities.
The campaign by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council is timed to coincide with this fall's statewide election and has drawn statements of support from both candidates for governor, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
The group kicked off the effort with a news conference at Old Dominion University, followed by similar events in Richmond and Roanoke.
It's a renewal of a similar campaign waged by the group in 2009 with the aim of reversing a decade of state budget cuts that drove college tuitions sharply higher.
That effort resulted in $400 million in new state spending for higher education since 2011, enabling state schools to enroll an additional 14,000 undergraduates, said Heywood Fralin, the council's chairman.
Moreover, tuition increases have slowed, and the percentage of working-age Virginians with college degrees has risen from 42 percent to 45 percent, said Fralin, a Roanoke health care executive.
The challenge now is to sustain the momentum, Fralin said. The group's long-term goal is to award 100,000 more college degrees to Virginians by 2025. (More)
Va. Higher Education Economic Study Released
(CBSDC-TV/The Associated Press, Sept. 6, 2013)
Every $1 that Virginia spends on higher education results in $1.29 in new tax revenue and more than $17 in increased economic activity, according to a University of Virginia report released Thursday.
The report by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service details the economic impact of the state's public higher education system, which consists of 15 four-year institutions, one junior college and 23 community colleges.
The study was commissioned by the Virginia Business Higher Educational Council, which also released its 2013 policy agenda during a news conference at Old Dominion University.
The council formed a Grow By Degrees coalition in 2009 following several years of state budget cuts that reduced per-student higher education funding in Virginia by about 50 percent. Following the coalition of business, education and community leaders' formation, the General Assembly passed legislation that helped slow down the rate of tuition increases and allowed 14,000 additional undergraduate students to enroll in 2009.
Coalition leaders say the study shows spending on higher education is a good investment. (More)
ODU survey notes traffic problems in Hampton Roads
(WAVY-TV, Sept. 5, 2013)
Old Dominion University released results from its annual survey about the quality of life in Hampton Roads.
The ODU Social Science Research Center designed the survey to give a look at the social and economic indicators of the quality of life in the area. It focuses on transportation and traffic, local and state government, education, health, emergency preparedness, the economy and crime.
"Respondents to the 4th annual Old Dominion University "Life in Hampton Roads" survey showed more confidence in the regional economy than in recent years, but traffic continued to be a key issue with about half of the participants expressing significant concern with congestion," read a press release from the university.
Although most people said they're happy with the quality of life here, more than 50 percent of the 812 people surveyed said traffic is their biggest concern. The survey found the average commute time has increased by nearly a minute over last year, and that about 45 percent of participants avoid visiting a business in a neighboring city due to traffic concerns.
More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of the impending tolls, and more than 50 percent said they would be less likely to use bridges and tunnels with tolls. (More)
Economic study on Va. higher education system to be released by lawmakers, education officials
(The Washington Post/Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2013)
An economic impact study of Virginia's higher education system is set for release in Norfolk.
A coalition of business and community leaders will unveil the study's results Thursday at Old Dominion University.
The Grow By Degrees coalition is sponsoring the study. The coalition was formed in 2009 following years of state budget cuts that reduced per-student higher education funding in Virginia by about 50 percent.
In addition to the study's results, the coalition will also release its upcoming policy agenda.
House Majority Leader Del. Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tommy Norment are expected to be on hand for the event, as is Old Dominion University President John Broderick. (More)
Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke passes his way into the record books
(The Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2013)
Taylor Heinicke's story dates back to his high school days in Georgia, when a scrawny teenager jumped at the first college scholarship offer he received. It was nearing season's end when Old Dominion quarterbacks coach Ron Whitcomb flew down to see Heinicke in person, and the schedule had taken its toll.
"They billed him as 6-1, 190, he was probably about 5-11, 170," Whitcomb said. "He looked like holy hell and I remember thinking this kid's going to get me fired."
"Kind of the opposite."
The Monarchs led the Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense and total offense last season. They won 11 games and Heinicke, who was only a sophomore, broke a decades-old college football record and earned the Walter Payton Award, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
But to understand how Heinicke became Old Dominion's leader entering Saturday's game at Maryland, you have to go back exactly one year and one day before he accepted the Walter Payton bust, to when he was confronted by the greatest heartbreak of his young life.
Brett Heinicke coached Taylor in youth football, volunteered with the boosters and never missed a game. So of course Brett was in the stands when the Monarchs lost to Georgia Southern in the FCS playoffs on Dec. 3, 2011, with Taylor under center as a freshman.
It was the last time they saw each other. (More)
Terrie Suit named to head state Realtors' association
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sept. 4, 2013)
Terrie Suit, Virginia's first secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, will become chief executive officer of the Virginia Association of Realtors, a 29,000-member trade organization based in Henrico County.
The association's board of directors made the announcement Wednesday afternoon after a unanimous vote. The appointment is effective Sept. 23, a day after she resigns as secretary.
Suit, 49, succeeds Scott Brunner, who left the organization in March after seven years at the helm.
She brings vast experience to the association in the areas of housing policy, real estate, finance and government affairs, the trade group said in a statement.
Tom Stevens, chairman of the search committee and past president of the Virginia Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors, said a national search was conducted to fill the position.
"Terrie is from Virginia," Stevens said. "She works for the state of Virginia. She reports to the governor. She knows the legislature, the political arena. She has great people skills. She's a communicator. She's the complete package." ...
Mary Dykstra, president of the Virginia Association of Realtors, said Suit's stellar track record in the real estate industry and her history as a housing advocate make her the right choice to lead the organization.
"Terrie embodies the leadership and visionary qualities valued in our chief executive," Dykstra said.
Suit received her bachelor of science degree in political science from Old Dominion University in 2005 and expects to complete her master's in business administration from the University of Mary Washington in 2014. (More)
McAuliffe: Cuccinelli tax cut would de-fund schools
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 4, 2013)
Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Tuesday that policies proposed by his Republican opponent would lead to devastating cuts in funding for Virginia's public schools.
Meeting with education students at Old Dominion University, McAuliffe said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's proposed $1.4 billion income tax cut would necessitate an annual reduction of at least $525 million in state education funding, leading to layoffs of more than 8,000 teachers.
For Norfolk schools, McAuliffe said, that translates into a budget cut of more than $16 million and more than 250 teacher layoffs.
Cuccinelli has proposed cutting the top individual income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5 percent and the corporate income tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. He has said he would offset the lost revenue by eliminating unspecified tax loopholes.
McAuliffe also attacked Cuccinelli's proposal to amend the state constitution to allow tax dollars to flow to private religious schools, saying it would further starve public schools of resources.
"Ken Cuccinelli has proposed a massive tax gimmick that would blow a $1.4 billion hole in Virginia's budget with no explanation of how he would pay for it," McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said in a statement. "Virginians deserve to know the dangerous implications of Cuccinelli's plan, including his proposal to divert funding from public schools to private schools." (More)
McAuliffe outlines plan for education
(Video, WAVY-TV, Sept. 3, 2013)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe appeared at Old Dominion University Tuesday morning.
The candidate met with students from the Darden School for Education around 9 a.m. at the Komblau Alumni Center Atrium.
He spoke 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)
Bobby Wilder pens a thank you note to 5,000 fans who traveled to East Carolina
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 3, 2013)
Every so often, after Old Dominion scored a touchdown, quarterback Taylor Heinicke completed a long pass or the defense made a stop, the 5,000 or so fans who traveled from Hampton Roads to East Carolina's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday night would begin the familiar chant, "ODU, ODU."
Though most of ODU's fans were packed in the far left corner of the stadium's visitor's side, coach Bobby Wilder and his players clearly heard them.
"It was inspiring," Wilder said. "There were moments in that game where I felt like it was almost a home game.
"We talked about it when we met Sunday, and the players are very grateful for the support."
ODU took 22 bus loads of people to Greenville, where the Monarchs fell to ECU, 52-38, in their first game against a Football Bowl Championship team.
"Someone at East Carolina made a comment that the most buses they've ever had show up was 10 when they played North Carolina State," Wilder said. "That speaks well for our fans."
Wilder posted a letter to ODU supporters on the school's sports Web site - odusports.com - late Tuesday afternoon, thanking them for their support.
ODU plays at Maryland Saturday at 4 p.m. It will be the Monarchs first game against an ACC school. Oddsmakers have made Maryland an 18-point favorite. ECU was a 14 1/2 favorite over ODU. (More)
Students start a semester. Teacher starts a career.
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 4, 2013)
One hour separated Kirsten Bagans from the first day, of her first year, of teaching.
In her second-floor classroom at James Monroe Elementary School, the third-grade teacher straightened chairs, hung last-minute posters, and stashed leftover supplies in a closet.
Reams of colored paper, abandoned chairs and upended tables littered the hallway outside. Heels clicked, and dress shoes smacked the floor as teachers hustled from room to room, swapping resources and advice.
For more than a week, Bagans had been preparing her room - and herself - for the 19 students assigned to her class. On Tuesday, the anxiety was palpable. She walked with determination, saying little while she worked. Soon, the names on her roster would be faces, the desks filled with more than textbooks. ...
Following the advice of her mother, a sixth-grade teacher at Blair Middle School, Bagans had been among the first in line for a job fair at Crossroads School. She grinned holding her contract.
Bagans grew up in the city's public schools. She studied at Old Dominion University and did her student teaching at Granby Elementary, the same school she attended as a child. (More)
Students vs. locals
(Letter, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 2, 2013)
On a recent Saturday night, I was visiting a friend who lives near Old Dominion University. As I walked down his street, a man approached me and hit me in the face.
I wasn't severely hurt. I notified the police, but my friend told me that this was normal, and the guy was probably a local resident.
I blame the school for not putting a greater emphasis on community relations. Students often take up all the parking on residential streets or throw raucous parties that disturb their neighbors well into the early morning hours (I once was one of those neighbors). Students' disdain for local residents is incredible.
ODU officials' stance seems to be that eventually, the school will just push all non-student residents out, and the problem will be solved. That's a horrible approach, and no wonder it leads to violence between local residents and students.
The school and the students have forgotten that Norfolk is a thriving community that does not rely on the university to survive. As ODU pushes more into neighboring areas, the school would do well to focus on making that transition amicable. The school should spend more money on policing and educating its student body on proper community relations.
However, for the time being, it seems that ODU cares only about building bigger stadiums and parking garages. It's a shame, too, because innocent people have been seriously hurt because of the school's reckless policy of encroachment.
Chris Fellini, Norfolk (More)