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2011 State of the University Address

President John R. Broderick

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

President John R. Broderick delivered his State of the University address on August 23 to a crowd of 1,100 faculty, staff and students, as well as local business, community and political leaders, at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Broderick talked with pride about the university's transformation into a state-of-the-art urban research institution with a vibrant campus life during his annual State of the University address. A full copy of the speech is listed below:


What began in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of The College of William and Mary has flourished and grown into one of the nation's leading metropolitan research universities in 2011.

As you arrived on campus today, you no doubt saw the physical evidence of that evolution in our modern campus, with its state-of-the-art academic and research buildings, championship-producing athletic facilities and lively campus life and entertainment areas.

But the heart and soul of that transformation lies within our 24,000-plus students, nationally recognized teaching faculty and forward-thinking researchers, who each and every day are pushing the frontiers of knowledge to create a better world.

Indeed, that better world starts right here at the university that boldly claims to be the Idea Fusion community.

I am pleased to report that Old Dominion was recently selected by The Chronicle of Higher Education to be one of the best colleges in the nation for which to work, specifically for our commitment to an environment where faculty and staff are included in decision-making and strategic planning.

The dedication, creative thinking and hard work of our faculty, staff and administrators are the keystone to this incredible institution. Therefore, I'd like to take a moment to publicly thank all of you for making Old Dominion a great place to work.

I cannot go further without also acknowledging the collaborative and collegial working relationship I enjoy with the Faculty Senate, which is ably led by Dr. Paul Champagne from the College of Business and Public Administration.

And nowhere has the collaborative work of the campus community been more apparent than in our SACS reaccreditation efforts. Thank you, Marty Sharpe and Sara Morris, from the College of Business, for your superb efforts in directing this all-encompassing task. Special thanks are also due to Mona Danner, from the College of Arts and Letters, and Worth Pickering for taking the lead in developing a Quality Enhancement Plan as part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process.

If our faculty and staff are the keystone in the ODU arch, then support and funding from the commonwealth of Virginia must be the pier, the foundation stone upon which it all rests.

I am grateful to Gov. Bob McDonnell and the members of the Virginia General Assembly for recognizing the importance of Old Dominion's role in this great commonwealth's future by allocating $12.6 million for our efforts toward access and affordability. I am equally appreciative of our philanthropic supporters, who over the past three years have donated nearly $34 million to this great institution. A special thanks to Vice President Alonzo Brandon and his staff for their hard work.

But now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Despite this show of support, ODU remains the lowest-funded institution in the state. This year, I will persist in voicing the extraordinary accomplishments of Old Dominion in every city and every venue where decisions are made and support is won.

This also will include an effort to connect with alumni and friends to generate key private funds.

As many of you know, I was selected by Gov. McDonnell to serve on his Commission on Higher Education Reform. One of the group's outcomes, "Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century," provides a unique opening for Old Dominion.

When we submitted our six-year plan, let me assure you that we stressed the need for a continuing commitment to fund the large in-state enrollment growth we have experienced over the last five years.

One example of where immediate help is needed was reported recently by local media. ODU has a greater need for more full-time faculty and support infrastructure than any other institution in the state.

We have provided everything the commonwealth has asked of us:

  • Serve Virginians - ODU has enrolled more Virginians than any institution in the last five years;
  • Partner with the community colleges - We accept the largest number of community college transfers of any institution with a statewide articulation agreement. And thanks to the leadership of Associate Vice President Andy Casiello, we have significantly expanded our existing partnership with VCCS;
  • Produce STEM-related graduates - STEM, of course, refers to science, technology, engineering and math, and ODU has the second-highest percentage of graduates in this category; and
  • Remain affordable - Old Dominion has the lowest tuition among the doctoral institutions.

We also pledged in our plan to strengthen our retention and graduation rates. Additionally, we proposed, if new funding is awarded:

  • To increase our online offerings in conjunction with the community college system;
  • To increase our commitment to STEM-related disciplines, including nursing;
  • To expand programs like Project Lead the Way; and
  • To further enhance our initiatives in bioelectrics, modeling and simulation, and the ODU Business Gateway.

Last, but not least, we included within our plan a request to provide our faculty and staff a modest salary increase.

All of what I just outlined squarely meets the fundamental objectives of the Higher Education Commission and the "Top Jobs" legislation.

While the governor has provided ODU a seat at the table in some key decision-making for higher education, my presidential colleagues from the Colonial Athletic Association did the same by appointing me the league representative to the NCAA for the next four years.

As a result, I represent the CAA among a select group of 40 college presidents from across the country in examining significant intercollegiate issues, such as financial sustainability, reinforcing integrity and academic success.

Clearly, our success on the courts and on the fields is well known. But did you know that four of our students were honored as the top academic performers in the CAA for their respective sports?

These students, gifted in both the academic and athletic arenas, are:

  • Amanda Bieber, field hockey, a biological sciences major;
  • Kristofer Hague, men's swimming and diving, an electrical engineering technology major;
  • Trian Iliadis, men's basketball, a biochemistry major; and
  • Phil McCarthy, baseball, an exercise science and pre-med major.

I also want to recognize Associate Professor of English Tim Seibles, who has agreed to serve as Old Dominion's NCAA faculty athletics representative. Tim is taking over for Professor of Psychology Janis Sanchez-Hucles, who held the position for two decades. Thank you both for your dedication and service to our student-athletes.

For more than 80 years, Old Dominion has proudly served Hampton Roads and the commonwealth of Virginia. This continues today with our strategic plan to invest in research and spur economic growth in areas where jobs can be retained or generated.

A good example is the work done at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, which recently initiated collaborative studies with G.E. Global Research.

Last year's launch of the ODU Business Gateway was also designed to advance that goal and provide streamlined access to our intellectual capital, technology and infrastructure to solve problems, expand capabilities and create new ventures.

In one year, more than 100 businesses, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, military commands and others have been served by the ODU Business Gateway.

From helping a premier health care system achieve world-class performance, to assisting more than 300 military veterans as they grow their businesses, to educating 200 professionals in cutting-edge sustainability techniques, the ODU Business Gateway is making quite an impression.

Actually, a measured impact of nearly $200 million was reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Business Gateway's reach goes well beyond Hampton Roads. Creare Inc., a high-tech R&D firm located in New Hampshire, looked past some leading institutions in New England to tap into the resources here at Old Dominion to test and evaluate its latest aircraft arrestor design. As did French-owned AirBus, where an ODU aerospace engineering professor will deliver training in Toulouse in October.

The extraordinary success of the ODU Business Gateway triggered the creation this summer of the Innovation Foundation.

This new foundation represents:

  • Increased opportunities for consulting engagements for our faculty;
  • Easier access to the university for businesses; and
  • Valuable internships and jobs for students.

Last year, I spoke to you about another new project to identify and address the multifaceted impact that rising sea levels have on our region. While many have argued about the actual cause of sea level rise, the fact is that the waters are rising.

Rebecca Costa, author of "The Watchman's Rattle," warns that "when beliefs dominate, knowledge takes a back seat, which causes education to be marginalized." Our need to study this critical issue is not a belief - scientific readings all over the region prove that it is both legitimate and factual.

ODU's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative kicked off last fall with a forum led by Navy oceanographer David Titley and continued throughout the year with research and educational efforts.

For example, faculty hosted a workshop to determine how to help cities tackle their infrastructure problems. Researchers are working with the Department of Defense to identify how climate change will affect its military facilities.

We recognize that dealing with rising sea levels is not just all science and engineering. In fact, that may be the easy part. How people respond to it and make decisions is more difficult. To better understand this important aspect of sea level rise, Old Dominion has four projects that look at everything from perceptions and attitudes to how to teach climate change concepts. This research is interdisciplinary, involving components of health sciences, business, education and even the arts.

Recognition is not the purpose of our efforts, but it is rewarding and affirming to know that others are taking note. National Public Radio has featured ODU's work in several news segments, and an op-ed piece by project leader Larry Atkinson, Slover Professor of Oceanography, appeared in newspapers across the country. And Assistant Professor Poornima Madhavan was elected as the first-ever psychologist to the prestigious Science and Technical Advisory Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

While on the topic of recognition, biological sciences professor Mark Butler was selected as an Outstanding Faculty Award winner by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Mark is the 25th ODU professor to be honored with this award since 1991, more than any other Virginia institution except one.

I am proud to say that we have SCHEV Award winners in all six of our academic colleges, and I'd like to invite all of our SCHEV Award winners to please stand so that we can give them a round of applause for their dedication and inspiration in the classroom. I never miss an opportunity to tell prospective students and families that the very best teaching faculty are here on the ODU campus.

Whether in the College of Sciences studying ice melts in the Arctic Circle or the College of Health Sciences re-envisioning local and global health, our faculty members continue to push the limits of research and scholarship. In examining the issues around child hunger or the impact of human behaviors on the housing crisis, faculty are bringing their valuable research into the classroom, encouraging students to see the world in new and dynamic ways.

The leading goal of Old Dominion's strategic plan is to provide students with the tools to succeed. Clearly, the first step toward success happens in our classrooms.

But just as our students are well rounded and multidimensional, so, too, must be our approach to their success. Therefore, over the last year a committee worked to create an infrastructure to ensure student success. From this committee's noteworthy efforts, a new division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services was formed under the leadership of a new vice president, Ellen Neufeldt.

From the point of first contact with prospective students through helping our graduates start rewarding careers in their first job, the new division will ensure a seamless support system. Most importantly, it will collaborate with partners in Academic Affairs as it enriches active learning and engagement that foster a climate of success.

Additionally, a student success advisory board, co-chaired by Provost Carol Simpson and Vice President Neufeldt, has been created to increase our retention and graduation rates. Many initiatives are already under way, such as a sophomore success program, enhanced advising and expanded tutoring programs.

One of the most significant physical resources for student success is the soon-to-open Student Success Center. Wrapped around Perry Library, it consolidates all the support services that students need to excel, including advising, tutoring, experiential learning and academic skills assessment.

At the front of the library, the unique Learning Commons brings together library resources, state-of-the-art technology and services to facilitate student learning. The flexible space is designed to foster informal, collaborative and creative work, and social interaction among students. Students can:

  • Check out an iPad along with a library book;
  • Polish their presentation skills in a sound studio; or
  • Have a hearty debate while sipping a cup of coffee.

Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch noted, "A mind is a fire to be kindled." At ODU, we believe our professors are the tinder and our innovative learning environments are the spark, which allow student minds to burn brightly with the power of knowledge.

One shining example is a team of graduate accounting students from the College of Business and Public Administration, under the leadership of student Sara Crabtree, which bested more than 30 teams from around the country to win the Association of Government Accountants Case Challenge in July.

Another is Team Tidewater Virginia, led by our own John Whitelaw, an environmental engineering doctoral student in the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology. This group of Old Dominion and Hampton University students is one of only 20 teams worldwide selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. The prestigious event challenges students to design, build and operate the most affordable and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

The Team Tidewater house, called Unit 6 Unplugged, was constructed on the Old Dominion campus this summer and will be moved to our nation's capital for the competition beginning Sept. 23. Thousands of tourists, architects and engineers are expected to visit the house.

Students, of course, remain at the heart of our university. I am pleased to report that we continue to offer rigorous and challenging programs, while remaining accessible and affordable to thousands of students across the state. In fact, some 87 percent of our student body comes from Virginia and, as I noted earlier, our tuition remains among the lowest in the commonwealth.

We have a thriving partnership with the Virginia Community College System, particularly Tidewater and Thomas Nelson community colleges locally, and offer joint programming with Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University and several other institutions.

In addition to providing students with an outstanding education, our aim is to be a solutions provider for the region and beyond, as we enhance the metropolitan area's reputation as a great place to live, learn and work.

Last fall, we launched Engage ODU, an endeavor that focuses student and faculty resources on the needs of the community.

Under those auspices, ODU's Social Science Research Center, housed in the College of Arts and Letters, polled local residents about "Life in Hampton Roads." It will also begin a comprehensive survey this fall on the region's so-called "creative class" - 25-to-35-year-olds who are educated and driven - to gauge their perceptions about the region and their motivations for staying or leaving. The goal is to entice more of our best and brightest to remain in Hampton Roads.

Drive along the southern boundary of the ODU campus and you'll see the beautiful townhouses of the 43rd Street Norfolk development emerging from what used to be a series of asphalt parking lots. This joint project of the city of Norfolk and ODU's Community Development Corporation features 51 homes that are being sold at prices that workforce families can afford.

The university has been selected to participate in the White House Interfaith and Community Service challenge. This campus-wide initiative combines our commitment to the community with a push to enhance the cultural skills of our students.

Old Dominion remains committed to serving those who serve our country. We were once again selected as one of the top 100 military-friendly universities in the country, and for good reason. Approximately 23 percent of our student body is military-affiliated and our sizable Army and Naval ROTC programs continue to win academic and tactical kudos.

Additionally, Old Dominion continues to serve as the primary academic partner of NATO's Atlantic Command Transformation.

Within the Darden College of Education, the TEAMS project aims to improve services to military-connected students in K-12. Locally, TEAMS was a key partner with Newport News Public Schools in obtaining a $2.5 million grant to provide assessment, professional development and student services.

This fall, ODU is co-hosting an international forum on religious engagement with the Washington-based Institute for Global Engagement. It will bring together civilian and military leaders to consider the implications of religious freedoms on U.S. foreign policy and global security.

Let me turn to the issue of safety and security on campus and in the communities surrounding it. While our campus crime statistics are on par with institutions throughout Virginia, several high-profile robberies, the senseless death of Christopher Cummings and the injuries sustained by Jake Carey and Sidney DeLoatch-Overton are unacceptable. Our priority continues to be making ODU a safe and supporting community for everyone.

Last January, I brought in national campus security consultant D. Stafford and Associates to evaluate our safety and security measures. The recommendations resulted in more than $2 million in additional enhancements, such as:

  • More police officers;
  • Video surveillance cameras;
  • Lighting;
  • Safety forums;
  • And more.

However, as we know, the majority of the incidents happen off campus, where many of our students live. Addressing crime in the neighborhoods, where the university has less authority, takes a different approach and certainly more collaboration.

ODU Police and Norfolk Police have been working together to further enhance their joint policing efforts and perhaps you've already seen the fruits of this renewed commitment.

Norfolk has provided additional officers in marked vehicles, on bicycles and on foot patrol solely dedicated to the area surrounding the university. Together, the departments have fanned out across the neighborhoods to pursue a community-policing philosophy, talking with residents and establishing relationships.

Additionally, the departments will be offering training to both students and residents through the Citizens Police Academy.

I want to thank Mayor Paul Fraim, City Manager Marcus Jones and Chief of Police Sharon Chamberlin for their commitment to this collaborative effort.

A university-wide group of leaders, under the direction of Gwen Lee-Thomas, has been meeting throughout the summer to respond to my charge for a plan to enhance off-campus efforts as we head into a new academic year. As a result of their efforts, Old Dominion is implementing a number of measures.

We are expanding our existing safety task force to a broader-focused ODU community one. This group will look at areas of safety, education, literacy, economic stability and community stabilization.

Additionally, ODU will launch an initiative to engage local-area landlords to voluntarily complete a safety audit and support a checklist of community standards for their properties.

Next is a student-led initiative to instill a culture of pride and responsibility - both on-campus and off - among students, faculty and staff as Monarch Citizens.

Perhaps the most critical part of our success is Old Dominion's need to continually re-envision and revitalize our commitment to and our work in the communities directly surrounding the university. Any successful metropolitan university has strong ties with its neighbors. We are as enriched by the community's contributions as, we trust, the community is by the university's presence.

This fall, we will partner with the local community in a more robust and strategic manner to maximize and expand the current outreach efforts of Old Dominion faculty, staff and students.

To the academic colleges: As you continue to share your expertise and resources with the surrounding communities, I challenge you to continuously evaluate the impact that your work has in the local neighborhoods in a way that demonstrates our commitment as a metropolitan university and as a good neighbor.

Additionally, I am establishing a new position - chief operating officer - that will take responsibility for ensuring that the university implements a comprehensive coordination of strategies needed to help solve these issues across all vice presidential areas.

David Harnage, a former vice president at Old Dominion who possesses more than 30 years of experience in higher education settings, will assume direct responsibility for public safety.

He will support and move forward the efforts already set in motion by Vice President Bob Fenning and Police Chief George Votava. He'll also be responsible for managing and cultivating our strong relationship with the city of Norfolk.

A lot has been done to address safety concerns, but our work is not over. Safety is a continually evolving and changing issue and, as such, the university and all its partners must be vigilant and adaptive in our efforts. It is crucial that all stakeholders take an active role in efforts to make the greater ODU area the safest in which to live, learn and work.

Before closing, I would like to invite ODU mascot Big Blue to the stage. Big Blue won the National Mascot of the Year award from Capital One, defeating 15 other mascots, garnering more than 2 million votes and shattering all previous voting records in the process. I was with Big Blue at the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day when we accepted the award on national TV, and believe me when I say Monarch Nation couldn't have been more proud.

Thank you, Big Blue, for being here today, and congratulations!

Big Blue's achievement is typical of ODU athletics, where champions are created every day, on the court and in the classroom. And it's also typical of the pride and determination that every member of the Old Dominion community possesses.

Longtime Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh said, "The essence of leadership is that you can't blow an uncertain trumpet."

I believe the notes we are playing at Old Dominion are abundantly clear to everyone.

The state of Old Dominion University is strong. Together, we are composing a masterpiece that makes our community, our nation and our world a better place for all.

Thank you.