Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

In concluding the 2021-2022 academic year and preparing for the next phase of our journey, both as individual Monarchs and a collective campus, we have a great deal to be proud of, including our continued engagement in classrooms and laboratories; recent recognition and advancements in research; and expanding reach and impact in the community. All of this has occurred in the midst of a global health pandemic where flexibility, resiliency, and tenacity have been a constant in our approach and action and shown that our campus can respond to any and all challenges.

As we reflect on last week's Commencement ceremonies and other activities, more than 2,700 Monarchs have officially joined our worldwide alumni network of approximately 160,000 thought leaders and scholar citizens. To those who graduated, your ODU education has fully prepared you for the next step in your personal and professional lives. To those who are continuing to pursue their studies, ODU will keep you first and foremost by investing in your success. To those who are preparing to join the ODU family, we cannot wait to welcome you!

This past year was marked with incredible achievement and monumental progress. Together, we implemented new initiatives and reached unprecedented heights. That exemplary work is evident across our campus and in our community. For example, last August, we held an event to celebrate a joint School of Public Health, which is truly a regional effort led by ODU with strong participation and full support from both Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and Norfolk State University. And, last November, we joined with community and industry leaders to launch the ODU Maritime Initiative, which promises to have a significant economic impact on the region and the Commonwealth. We ended 2021 by receiving the prestigious Research 1 classification, thereby placing us among the nation's top elite research institutions, and announcing a significant partnership with EVMS and Sentara to establish an academic health center in order to address health disparities in our local communities and workforce needs in the healthcare industry. These bold steps forward and critical work will continue to advance in the months to come.

The reality is that none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the engagement and support of dedicated Monarchs who are honored to call ODU their academic and professional home. To the world-class faculty and dedicated staff who diligently work every single day to proudly serve ODU and advance our worthwhile mission of teaching, research, and service, please accept my sincere gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for all that you have done and will continue to do! Throughout the academic year, I had the pleasure of visiting with each of our academic units, including centers, departments, and schools. This was truly a unique experience in which I was able to see first-hand the collaboration, collegiality, and connection that defines and enables the ODU journey for past, present, and future Monarchs. And, in the coming academic year, I look forward to having the same level of engagement with each of our service units.

We also connected with supporters in new and profound ways, thereby reaching increased levels of engagement and giving. Last August, we traveled the Commonwealth of Virginia on the Monarch Nation Tour to engage with alumni and supporters. It was a powerful experience and one that showed the significant impact of ODU on individuals and communities. And, just last week, members of the ODU family came together for an event to recognize Cynthia Faschini '92 and Andrew Wallach '78, the namesakes of the Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies to be located in the new Health Sciences Building, which is currently under construction and slated for opening in 2023. Individuals like Andy and Cynthia are what make ODU such a special place to learn, live, and work. This is just one example of the incredible stories exhibiting the spirit and strength of our campus community.

The Fall 2022 semester presents a great deal of optimism and opportunity as we write the next chapter in Old Dominion University's storied history and promising future through our on-going strategic planning work. Indeed, this is an exciting time to be part of Monarch Nation. Again, thank you for your outstanding work throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. I hope each and every one of you have a relaxing and rewarding summer! GO MONARCHS!

With Monarch Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.