ODU's Six-year Plan in Response to State's 'Top Jobs' Legislation
The Old Dominion Board of Visitors at its quarterly meeting on Sept. 15, 2011 approved a six-year plan for the university that addresses initiatives from the commonwealth's "Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011."
When he signed the "Top Jobs" bill in June, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that the legislation aims to increase access and affordability of higher education in Virginia, creating a pathway toward awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years. It was also created to bring more innovation and accountability and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concentration to the state's colleges and universities.
President John Broderick, who said that ODU's six-year plan addresses the requirements of the legislation, noted that programmatic content and proposed responses are already under way in a number of areas as directed by the university's own 2009-14 strategic plan.
ODU's six-year "Top Jobs" plan contains three components:
- The first acknowledges the relative funding of the institution and the importance ODU places upon the receipt of funds to address the significant enrollment growth of the university over the past five years.
- The second is composed of current and proposed initiatives (consistent with the "Top Jobs" legislation) that ODU is undertaking to promote access, affordability and economic development.
- The third consists of five specific initiatives that are important aspects of the legislation for which incentive funding would be needed.
While the university is committed to meeting the fundamental objectives of the "Top Jobs" legislation through carryover funds and non-personal services increases, the five proposed initiatives in ODU's six-year plan would require investments beyond the current capabilities of the institution, Broderick explained in materials supplied to the board.
These initiatives, summarized below, focus on improving access, STEM enrollments/graduation and economic development:
- A request for additional general funds to support the Advance Virginia through 2+2 online distance learning initiative, involving 10 predominantly STEM and high-demand degree programs. This joint proposal between ODU and the Virginia Community College System will expand access to STEM and health care degree programs by creating new online degree programs, reducing time to graduation, and making better use of both institutional and student resources. ODU's projected enrollment growth over the six-year period would reach approximately 20,000 student credit hours.
- A request for general funds to encourage middle and high school students to enter into STEM-related disciplines through the university's leadership in the Project Lead the Way program. ODU is the designated Virginia affiliate of this national initiative, which provides rigorous curricular and other support to middle and high schools in an effort to promote increased participation in STEM-related disciplines and prepare students to become innovative and productive engineers and scientists. Included within ODU's six-year plan is a request for additional funds to expand the Project Lead the Way program to 75 additional middle schools and train 100 middle school teachers.
- A request for a significant additional investment in ODU's Center for Bioelectrics, which builds upon its past success in developing novel cancer therapies, immunotherapies and other medical environmental applications that can dramatically improve upon human health and welfare. This investment would result in the commonwealth and ODU housing the most significant bioelectrics research and commercialization activities in the world.
- Building upon the commonwealth's 2011-12 investment in medical modeling and simulation, a request for further investment with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center and the collaborative efforts of Eastern Virginia Medical School in this new and rapidly growing field, The investment would focus on several niche areas, such as a patient blood management training center and enhancements to the immersive Virtual Operating Room.
- Based on the current success and momentum of ODU's Business Gateway and new Innovation Foundation, a request for an investment in an Integrated Business Accelerator in Innovation Research Park, with accompanying technical and business support services for both commercialization and business development programs.