Steve Daniel Retires after Three Decades of Chronicling ODU's Progress
When he retires this month, Steve Daniel will wrap up a career of almost 33 years as Old Dominion University's writer/editor extraordinaire.
His current roles as editor of the university's online campus news publication, ODUOnline, and of the newsletter Community Connection that ODU distributes in neighborhoods around campus are only two of a dozen or more jobs he has performed in communications/public relations departments on campus.
Daniel has also edited The Courier, Alumnews, Old Dominion University magazine and The State of the Region annual report produced by ODU's Regional Studies Institute. He is writer of the popular Then & Now column in Monarch magazine, and is known, too, for his excellent photography, especially of flora and fauna on campus. As a hobby, he writes song lyrics and poems.
An avid follower of Monarch sports, Daniel has been known to challenge ODU's star basketball players to games of one-on-one or H-O-R-S-E. But over the years he has been more likely to excel on another sort of court; he is a former collegiate tennis player.
John R. Broderick, the ODU president, and James V. Koch, president emeritus and Board of Visitors Professor of Economics, have worked closely with Daniel and both praise his communication skills and personal integrity. But both also noted a slight fault: while growing up in Kentucky, Daniel developed what has become a lifelong attachment to the University of Kentucky basketball program.
"I have worked with Steve for 20 years and never, ever saw him lose his temper," said Broderick, who in his former position as vice president for institutional advancement was Daniel's direct supervisor. "He is a remarkable wordsmith and his vast knowledge of everything involving Old Dominion and its history will be missed. He actually was the person who picked me up in 1993 for my job interview here. I do need, however, to correct the record on something - Steve would get a bit testy with me every time Connecticut beat Kentucky in basketball, which is all of the time!" Needless to say, Broderick is a Connecticut native.
Added Koch, "Except for his irrational support for the Kentucky Wildcats, Steve Daniel is a great guy - skilled, professional, timely and understanding. The State of the Region report (which Koch supervises) would never have appeared but for Steve."
Debbie White, senior associate athletic director, knows that Daniel is also very loyal to Monarch athletics. "We have been so fortunate to have worked with Steve throughout the years in athletics. He not only provided our teams great exposure through the campus and alumni publications, but he became an ardent fan as well. I especially remember his fondness for our women's basketball program and the joy on his face the night his son sang the national anthem at one of their games in the old field house. His knowledge of the University and loyalty will be missed."
From Karla C. Johnson, former executive assistant to the vice president for government affairs, licensing and events (1985-2000), Daniel gets the highest of marks. "Over his many years at ODU, in both his personal and professional lives, Steve Daniel has proven over and over again what it is to be a caring and honorable human being and to possess an exemplary work ethic in everything you set out to accomplish.
"I remember when he almost singlehandedly produced and edited both of the university's internal news publications and never missed a beat," Johnson said. "No one ever had any concern that what he put in print would be anything but the best, and that what he wrote would be fair and balanced. I was proud to work with him for 15 years and wish nothing but happiness for him and his wonderful family. Enjoy your retirement, Steve, you have earned it, and then some."
Other editors who have worked with Daniel at ODU marvel at his way with words and knowledge of grammar.
"Like a surgeon with a laser, Steve is a meticulous craftsman with his green editing pen," said Janet Molinaro, publications editor in the Office of University Publications. "When Steve has edited a piece, there's no point in checking behind him. He's always right! I will miss the camaraderie of getting a second opinion and having Steve as a safety net for my mistakes."
Jim Raper, editor of Monarch magazine, said Daniel personifies some of the best attributes of our university - high-quality service with a smile, attention to detail and competitive spirit. "We will miss his steadiness, his institutional knowledge, his unsurpassed copy editing skills and his liberal contributions of wit and wisdom to our daily labors."
Daniel joined ODU's Office of Public Information as a writer in 1981 after earning a bachelor's degree in English from Centre College in Kentucky and a master's in communications from Wichita State University.
While the office has changed names a few times over the years, Daniel worked in the same area throughout his ODU career. He was named editor of Alumnews (ODU's alumni periodical) in 1983 and became editor of The Courier, the former faculty/staff newspaper, in 1986. He held down both editing jobs for more than two decades (1986 to 2009), including 12 years as editor of Old Dominion University magazine. At the time of his retirement, he served as editor of InsideODU and Community Connection, and performed various other writing and editing duties.
"Among the most positive changes I have witnessed at the university has been the growth and beautification of the campus," Daniel said. "But even more important has been ODU's ever-increasing reputation when it comes to outstanding faculty, academic programs and students, as well as its ongoing commitment to having a diverse campus community. Through it all, I have been impressed by the hard work and dedication of many support staff members throughout the university."
Daniel is a past Customer Relations Employee of the Year and was a member of both the Hourly and Classified Employees Association and the Association of University Administrators. He coordinated the HACE Thanksgiving food drive on campus for many years.
He says he has enjoyed promoting the university on and off campus. "As one who got his start in journalism working for weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Kansas, I consider myself fortunate to have had an opportunity to apply that background at ODU and to share the university's many success stories over the years through writing and editing."
Daniel's advice to new employees: "Give it your best! And, take advantage of the many opportunities offered by this unique work setting."
He said he had a hard time identifying one "most memorable moment" in his nearly 33 years at ODU. Here are a few that he offered:
Having the Concert Choir sing a song he wrote about Old Dominion (to the tune of "Oklahoma") at a Founders' Day luncheon.
Going with former photographer Bob Firek to interview an ODU alumnus who worked at the White House, and getting a behind-the-scenes tour by one of President Clinton's personal valets. Then, later, being escorted off the grounds after setting up and taking a picture of the ODU alum in what apparently was a restricted area of the White House lawn. (Luckily, the film wasn't confiscated, and Firek's photo ran on the cover of the next alumni publication.)
Trying to stop former Lady Monarch great Ticha Penicheiro on a fast break during a charity basketball game, which he said was both a humbling and humiliating experience.
Having an opportunity to meet many interesting people, including Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, "A Prairie Home Companion's" Garrison Keillor, former Black Panther Bobby Seale, ODU alumnus Tommy Newsom of "The Tonight Show" band, ODU alumna and Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Beth Polson, author Molly Ivins, a number of Virginia governors, and former Lady Monarch greats Nancy Lieberman and Anne Donovan.
In his retirement, Daniel said, he plans to devote much of his time to volunteer work in a variety of arenas, and to continue with his nature photography. He's also hoping to get back to playing some tennis, to the degree that his knees will allow.