Dear Monarch Nation:

As we prepare to conclude the Fall 2021 semester and celebrate the achievements of our newest group of remarkable graduates and proud alumni during tomorrow's Commencement ceremonies, I am so pleased to share that Old Dominion University (ODU) has committed to work collaboratively with Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and Sentara Healthcare (Sentara) to explore aligning or affiliating an academic health center in order to address health disparities through education, research, clinical, and workforce enhancements and initiatives. With today's signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ODU, EVMS, and Sentara are fully committed to pursuing the many ways in which we can partner to strengthen health-focused academic program offerings, world-class research in both existing and new specialty areas, and state-of-the-art clinical care, as well as expand the workforce pipeline for needed healthcare workers.

This afternoon's public event and MOU signing represent a bold step forward. Collectively, we are stepping forward to publicly make a clear commitment to address the health disparities facing our region and its people. We can do more, and we will do more! Through our programs, our research, and our services, we will be stronger together.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to acknowledge EVMS President, Provost, and Dean Alfred Abuhamad, MD and Sentara President and Chief Executive Officer Howard Kern on their strong and visionary leadership of their organizations, as well as their dedication and passion for our community and the Commonwealth. ODU, EVMS, and Sentara are proud to serve as the academic and professional home to outstanding individuals who will be so critical to this collaborative effort as we move forward. It will truly take all of us working together!

The reality is that our region is leading in all the wrong categories, such as heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, and cancer just to name a few! Our prior work to establish a joint School of Public Health with Norfolk State University (NSU) and EVMS was an important step, but we must do more. Moving forward, we must be innovative in our approaches and intentional in our efforts. That work will be led by ODU, EVMS, and Sentara with direct involvement by NSU and Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD) as strong collaborators.

As this process evolves in the months and years to come, regular updates will be provided to the campus and the community. Together, I am confident that we can and will address the significant health disparities and make our community a better place to learn, live, and work!

With Monarch Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.