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ODU in the News

Week of 11/4/13

Study: Storms would submerge Norfolk Naval Station
(The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 2, 2013)

Norfolk Naval Station's vital infrastructure wouldn't survive the kind of powerful storms and widescale flooding that rising seawaters are expected to bring by the second half of the century. And those conditions would likely get even worse in the following decades.
That's the conclusion of a three-year case study of the naval base, conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, which analyzed computer storm models based on varying degrees of sea level rise.
It was one of four government-funded studies conducted nationwide to assess the impact of sea levels rising as much as 6 feet over the next 85 years.
"Military bases... are designed to be able to withstand hurricanes and flooding and that type of thing - to some extent," said Kelly Burks-Copes, a Corps of Engineers research ecologist who led the study of the base. She spoke during an interview this week after presenting the findings at a conference at Old Dominion University.
"But there was a growing concern that the military's infrastructure was no longer sustainable in the face of exacerbated storms and that climate change was likely to cause frequent storms, stronger storms, even if they are infrequent, more flooding," she said. "And they needed the questions asked: What were the risks and if there were risks, were there ways to reduce the risks?"
The results drive home the immensity of the challenge the Navy faces preparing for a long-term threat as budget crises and government shutdowns undermine even short-term planning.
"It's so hard to think decades out when I think most of the time they are just trying to get to Friday," said retired Rear Adm. David Titley, who was the Navy's oceanographer and founding director of the service's task force on climate change. Titley, who now directs a center on climate change at Penn State, was a keynote speaker at the conference. "But at some point, you gotta do it." (More)

ODU students have smashing time with pumpkins
(The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 1, 2013)

Velocity equals distance divided by time, which means that a pumpkin dropped from the top of a 10-story building will fall at a rate of 12 meters per second before hitting the ground, whereupon that squash would be squashed.
To prevent that - and for six points of extra credit in physics class - teams of Old Dominion University students built catchers for the annual pumpkin drop, and shortly after noon on Thursday, they were tested.
Eighty pumpkins were hauled to the roof of the 100-foot-tall Batten Arts and Letters building and dropped, one by one (excepting the grand finale, which was a veritable pumpkin downpour) into catchers.
Or into not-catchers, such as a laundry basket (too small) and a very short box of foam (too thin).
Team "Plan B" filled a box 3 feet tall with pillows, someone's mom's black sofa cushions and a red ladybug Pillow Pet belonging to the sister of senior Julisa Torres. "She doesn't know," Torres said. "It's been in the attic."
The box successfully caught the first pumpkin intact. Cheers all around. But the integrity of the taped-together box walls suffered, and the next two pumpkins exploded in fountains of seeds. The sofa cushions and ladybug came out pretty well, considering.
Another team took the recycling route.
"Everything I'm using was found on the side of the road," said senior Ryan Gaudreau, as his team stacked a futon with foam padding, plastic wrap and bags of autumn leaves, with a tarp suspended like a hammock over the whole thing. "It's sort of a triple backup plan created at 3 a.m." (More)

Why We Still Care About the Kennedys
(Good Morning America, Nov. 4, 2013)

America still can't get enough of Camelot.
Just witness the books, films, special museum exhibits and a host of experts ready to whet the appetite of admirers in the countdown to the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The handsome young president was in office for only 1,000 days, but the image of his New Frontier -- an innocent time before the assassinations of brother Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the ensuing political turmoil -- still lives on.
"My sense is that it is largely a story of interrupted promise," said Russell Riley, co-chairman of the Presidential Oral History Program at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
"The elevation of Kennedy in the public mind is inextricably linked with the tragedy of his death. So much would have been possible had he lived." ...
On Dec. 6, 1963, White published an essay, "For President Kennedy: An Epilogue," that invoked the idealized metaphor in Life, the country's most popular magazine at the time.
"All of it is manufactured," said Joyce Hoffman, associate professor of journalism at Old Dominion University in Virginia and author of the 1995 book "Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion."
"Not anyone ever mentioned Camelot during the Kennedy years," she said. "Even Kennedy's own staff and cabinet members were appalled at the idea. ... Kennedy above all was a pragmatist and would have shuddered at the notion of something so whimsical as a fairly tale like that to characterize his administration."
Hoffmann argues that White lost his objectivity and his distortion of reality had a lasting impact on the nation.
"It endures because it speaks to our wishes for a less complicated world, where it 'never rained until sundown,'" she said. "The bad guys were simpler. Just the Russians." (More)

Gas royalties dispute puts SW Virginia center stage in governor's race
(Bristol Herald-Courier, Nov. 3, 2013)

Southwest Virginia could be a deciding factor in who wins the governor's seat in Tuesday's election.
The region was supposed to be a safe base for gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Here, he should have been able to count on solid Republican support while the heavily populated regions around Northern Virginia and Tidewater cranked out the massive toss-up votes, likely to fall into the hands of Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
But the natural-gas royalties controversy, sparked by a senior assistant attorney general's help to energy companies being sued by regional landowners, threw that plan into a tailspin.
It's likely the reason Cuccinelli has crisscrossed the region so often. It also explains why McAuliffe and supporters have blitzed the area with ads focusing on the controversy - an outright attempt to mix it up here. ...
Voters across the state have seen the spots a lot. Ads featuring pictures of the attorney general, gas drilling pumps and newspaper clippings have splashed across TVs in Southwest Virginia, near Washington, D.C., and in the Tidewater region.
The ads seem to have resonated with some regional voters, wrote Jesse T. Richman, political science associate professor at Old Dominion University.
"Some polls that have offered a regional analysis of their results suggest that Cuccinelli is not running as well in the southwest as one might expect," he wrote. "This may be due to the gas royalties controversy." (More)

Hispanic Heritage, History and Contributions Explored at Dahlgren Observance
(Navy.mil, Nov. 1, 2013)

Sailors and civilians celebrated Hispanic Heritage with stories, food, fun and reflection during an observance at the Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) Oct. 30.
"We tend to see everything from the fun side," said keynote speaker, Dr. Rafael Landaeta, as he cited unique traits of Hispanics. "Our strong families tend to celebrate everything."
Put Hispanics' social disposition together with family and you will have a celebration that can last a year, said Landaeta, adding that, "we tend to have our personal space very close, if not zero. Close human interaction makes us unique."
Landaeta joined local Navy leaders - including Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Commander Capt. Michael Smith, Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Commanding Officer Capt. Peter Nette, ATRC Commanding Officer Capt. Ian Hall, and Center for Surface Combat Systems Commanding Officer Capt. Don Schmieley - to interact and celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Dahlgren personnel. ...
Landaeta - who immigrated to the United States from Venezuela 15 years ago - said he is amazed at the number of Hispanics who served in the Defense Department and who won awards such as the Nobel Prize, Emmys, Grammys and Oscars.
Today, more than 58,000 Hispanic active duty and Reserve Sailors serve in the Navy, including five Hispanic flag officers and 216 Hispanic master chiefs.
The Old Dominion University professor also spoke about self-segregation among Hispanics.
"It's good to segregate for a time - it gives you a path to integrating into society but we need to forget about race and color," said Landaeta, encouraging the audience to "focus on things that really unite us and enhance what we have in common." (More)

ODU researches sea level, superstorms
(WAVY-TV, Oct. 30, 2013)

(Note: two videos accessible through this link)

Researchers at Old Dominion University held a conference to discuss sea level rise and future superstorms in Hampton Roads.
Scientists at ODU say the sea level is undoubtedly rising and could cause unprecedented flooding in Hampton Roads in the future.
City leaders, scientists and Navy officials attended the conference Wednesday. The Navy is in a unique position, because, unlike homeowners, it cannot move away from the water's edge.
The Navy wants to be prepared for rising sea levels, so it hired researchers to help.
"When I presented my first set of storms, somebody came up to me and told me that was ridiculous for a storm to come up and take a left," said Kelly Burks-Copes, who studied storm effects on Naval Station Norfolk. "They said it was unheard of and ridiculous to study." ...
Other researchers at ODU say the physical effects, like storm surge, wind and flooding, are just the beginning.
They focused on how long it will take every neighborhood in Hampton Roads to bounce back from a superstorm like Sandy. The findings show some of the biggest problem areas aren't located anywhere near the waterfront.
Dr. Josh Behr and researcher Rafael Diaz interviewed more than 7,000 households in the days and weeks after Hurricane Irene hit Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina.
From those interviews, they made 16 vulnerability maps. They range from mobility issues, to medical needs and finances - a category that surprised the researchers.
"Some neighborhoods that we recognize as stable lower middle class or middle class neighborhoods were showing up in our study as being financially vulnerable and we thought that was strange," said Dr. Behr. "We didnt expect that." (More)

Naval Station Norfolk weathers storm models
(Stars and Stripes, Oct. 30, 2013)

Naval Station Norfolk was under assault - the sea had risen by 6 feet, storm surge was pounding the piers and a Category 3 hurricane was barreling down with blistering 129 mph winds.
And before it was over, the sea would rise by 27 feet - roughly the height of a three-story building. Swaths of coastline would be underwater, installations swamped, aquifers filled with salt water, roads gone, power down. And that didn't include the human toll.
"It's pretty catastrophic," said Kelly Burks-Copes, a scientist in the Environmental Laboratory of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss.
It was Burks-Copes who led the 22-person team that dreamed up this worst-case scenario for the naval base, as well as two dozen lesser storm events, using computers and other simulators to gauge how vulnerable the installation is to coastal storms and sea level rise. ...
According to retired Rear Adm. David Titley, an expert on climate change as it affects national security, Hampton Roads is one of three areas in the country - along with south Florida and New Orleans - that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers most critical in terms of sea level rise.
Not only is this region dealing with a warming ocean, a slowing Gulf Stream and the effects of melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic, he said, but "the kicker in the teeth is the land in the Hampton Roads area is slowly subsiding."
The net effect is a threat to the area's vast military infrastructure, especially those of the Navy.
"A huge number of Navy installations are going to become affected over the coming decades," Titley said. "This is not something that will force us to move tomorrow, next year or the year after. But over the coming decades it will become a serious problem."
Titley spent 32 years in the Navy, from his first tour at Naval Station Norfolk from 1980-83 aboard a guided missile destroyer to eventually heading its Task Force on Climate Change.
This summer he left Virginia to lead the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University. He plans to be back in Norfolk to deliver a public lecture on climate risk at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Ted Constant Center at Old Dominion University. (More)

Storm impact: Models test effects on Naval Station Norfolk a year after Standy
(The Daily Press, Oct. 30, 2013)

Naval Station Norfolk was under assault - the sea had risen by 6 feet, storm surge was pounding the piers and a Category 3 hurricane was barreling down with blistering 129 mph winds.
And before it was over, the sea would rise by 27 feet - roughly the height of a three-story building. Swaths of coastline would be underwater, installations swamped, aquifers filled with salt water, roads gone, power down. And that didn't include the human toll.
"It's pretty catastrophic," said Kelly Burks-Copes, a scientist in the Environmental Laboratory of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss.
It was Burks-Copes who led the 22-person team that dreamed up this worst-case scenario for the naval base, as well as two dozen lesser storm events, using computers and other simulators to gauge how vulnerable the installation is to coastal storms and sea level rise. ...
Not only is this region dealing with a warming ocean, a slowing Gulf Stream and the effects of melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic, he said, but "the kicker in the teeth is the land in the Hampton Roads area is slowly subsiding."
The net effect is a threat to the area's vast military infrastructure, especially those of the Navy.
"A huge number of Navy installations are going to become affected over the coming decades," Titley said. "This is not something that will force us to move tomorrow, next year or the year after. But over the coming decades it will become a serious problem."
Titley spent 32 years in the Navy, from his first tour at Naval Station Norfolk from 1980-83 aboard a guided missile destroyer to eventually heading its Task Force on Climate Change.
This summer he left Virginia to lead the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University. He plans to be back in Norfolk to deliver a public lecture on climate risk at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Ted Constant Center at Old Dominion University.
His appearance is part of a two-day international forum entitled "Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation: Moving Beyond the Threat." Burks-Copes is also scheduled as a forum panelist. (More)

Yeates school kids, families host ODU women in fitness
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 30, 2013)

Old Dominion University's Lady Monarchs traded their blue and silver for the maroon and gold of the John Yeates Middle School Chargers at the school's Fall Family Fitness night.
The school's PTSA sponsored the event and invited the basketball team to join them. ODU women's basketball coach Karen Barefoot arrived at Yeates with a dozen of her players.
"Staying healthy makes for an active mind," she told parents. "Be active and be positive," she told the students, and then invited everyone to join her team on the courts for drills and shooting practice.
The Oct. 22 event was coordinated by Gina Herr, a health and physical education teacher. It was the school's second year offering a fitness program designed for families. "We are emphasizing the concept of wellness," Herr said, "not just sports and not just games."
Representatives from several community facilities were also invited to share in the evening's program. Staff from the YWCA and EternaWell chatted with parents and students about fitness programs developed just for youngsters. A sampling of healthy snacks and drinks was served as examples of alternatives to fatty and salty snacks.
Dental technicians and pediatricians offered friendly, but serious advice concerning the importance of routine checkups as students moved between martial arts demonstrations, corn hole games and a putting green. (More)

Va. Beach school parents say yes to Achievable Dream
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 30, 2013)

Some community leaders may be iffy on plans to bring An Achievable Dream to Seatack Elementary School, but parents whose children would be in the program said this week they welcome it.
About 175 parents and children went to the school Tuesday night to learn more. When the interim superintendent asked how many wanted it at their school, every hand in the room seemed to go up.
Parent Edward Sutton raised two.
"It's a killer program," he said. "They're teaching them how to balance a checkbook, how to survive in the real world." ...
The reaction was a 180-degree twist from a meeting earlier this month, which was intended to give information and gauge interest in bringing the Newport News program to Seatack.
At that meeting, few parents attended, and fewer spoke. Instead, Seatack leaders protective of the proud, historically black community said they were offended by the program's lessons in manners, speech, etiquette and hand-shaking. They said those lessons have no place in a school where the community has long known how to raise children right. ...
The Achievable Dream nonprofit organization runs a public K-12 school in Newport News, using donations from local businesses to fund a longer school day and year. With that extra time, educators teach social skills, take field trips and prepare students for life after high school.
They even get help paying for college. Each Achievable Dream graduate is promised a $2,000 annual scholarship for higher education, and four universities - Norfolk State, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia - have promised a free ride to any graduate who gets accepted.
"This is about making a college education very real and possible for them," said Shirann Lewis, assistant superintendent for elementary schools. "I can tell you from experience, a college education is very expensive." (More)

Free entrepreneurship classes for Hampton Roads jobless
(The Daily Press, Oct. 29, 2013)

Carol Miller had been out of work for three years because of medical reasons. Now, she's planning a personal notary public business.
"This is something I can do to earn income to help support myself and not be tied to a 9 to 5 regular business hour schedule," Miller said.
And Miller doesn't have to do it on her own, thanks to a new entrepreneurial program that's helped 22 others in Hampton Roads plan businesses. Unemployed or underemployed residents who would like to start their own businesses can get free business plan instruction and mentoring through Old Dominion University thanks to a $1.8 million federal workforce grant through Opportunity Inc., said program director Stephanie McCombs.
"The thought was if you're having a hard time finding a job in your own field and you have an interest in starting your own business, why not create your own job?" McCombs said.
Launch Hampton Roads started in June with the goal of helping 250 people create new businesses by 2015, said Stephen Lanivich, ODU assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship. The program, in addition to similar efforts in Richmond and Northern Virginia, will be evaluated for effectiveness to see whether the programs should be duplicated in other region, McCombs. Participants are evaluated for 18 months.
Ultimately, the program helps emerging business owners think with an entrepreneurial mindset by recognizing and leveraging available resources, like local business leaders or mentors, Lanivich said.
In the first week, participants hone their business plans by talking with accountants, lawyers, bankers and sales and marketing experts from the community.
As part of the classes, instructor J.C. Brinker Jr. of Old Dominion University's Business Gateway test whether participants' business concepts could withstand the scrutiny of investors. Attendees pitch their ideas much like how startup founders or product inventors do in ABC's "Shark Tank." In fact, the participants watch the TV show to see if they agree with the decisions of either the investors or business owners, who have to weigh how much money they're willing to accept with the potential trade-off of giving up control of their businesses. (More)

Why Terry McAuliffe is beating Ken Cuccinelli, in 5 charts
(The Washington Post, October 28, 2013)

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe is leading Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) by a wide margin. Recent surveys show McAuliffe ahead by a margin that hovers in the high single digits - 7 points, according to Quinnipiac University and Old Dominion University; 8 points, according to a recent NBC4/NBC/Marist poll.
There are plenty of possible reasons why McAuliffe is ahead: McAuliffe has painted Cuccinelli as a radical conservative, while Cuccinelli's messaging against the Democrat hasn't been effective. Cuccinelli's past positions scare off swing voters. Cuccinelli's campaign hasn't been error-free, to put it lightly. The gift scandal swirling around Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is poisoning Republicans up and down the ballot. The government shutdown has allowed Democrats to paint Cuccinelli as a Ted Cruz clone.
But here's the reason Republicans will blame for Cuccinelli's shortcomings: He's been massively outspent on television, still the dominant medium for conveying a campaign message.
And according to a breakdown of ad spending provided by a source watching the race closely, that's a compelling point. In total, McAuliffe's campaign spent more than $14 million on television ads between May 5 and Oct. 27, the data show. Cuccinelli has spent $8.5 million. And the outside groups backing both candidates skew in McAuliffe's favor as well: Democratic groups like Next Generation, funded by California environmental activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, and Independence USA, a PAC funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have poured almost $8 million into the state on McAuliffe's behalf. Outside Republican groups have added about $5.7 million in spending on Cuccinelli's behalf. (More)

Polling climate in Virginia
(National Center for Science Education, Oct. 28, 2013)

A new poll (PDF) conducted by the Old Dominion University Social Science Research Center included a question about climate change - and while a majority of respondents accepted the fact that human activity is a major contributing factor in climate change, the responses varied to a remarkable degree by political preference.
Asked, "Do you believe human activity is a major contributing factor in climate change?" 62.7% of respondents said yes, 34.5% said no, and 2.7% said that they didn't know. There was a political split in the responses: 66.4% of respondents supporting the Republican candidate for governor answered no, while 88.5% of respondents supporting the Democratic candidate and 68.1% of respondents supporting the Libertarian candidate answered yes.
According to the report, "The poll was conducted using a random digit dial landline and cell phone number sample of 670 likely voters with quotas by Congressional district. Results were weighted by phone use and by demographic characteristics (income, gender, and age). The margin of error for the survey was 5 percent." (More)

Les Smith Reports: Republicans, Democrats bring in the heavy hitters for governor's race
(WTKR-TV, October 28, 2013)

Today Virginia's gubernatorial candidates focused on Hampton Roads.
The Republican and Democratic campaigns had stops in Hampton Roads today rallying their bases and breaking out some heavy hitters just 8 days until the polls open.
On the Democrats' side, one of their biggest names, Former President Bill Clinton, spoke to the crowd at Nauticus in Norfolk talking about the differences between the ideologies of the two candidates saying McAuliffe will listen to ideas where Cuccinelli will stick with his beliefs.
Clinton is in the middle of a four-day campaign swing for McAuliffe.
Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli also had a big name, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Right now, he's one of the bigger GOP names out there and one of the top people in the Tea Party Movement.
Both criticized Terry McAuliffe's stance on abortion and questioned the honesty of his campaign.
The most recent poll for the governor's race, released by Old Dominion University last week has McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by seven percentage points. (More)