By Amber Kennedy

The new Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at Old Dominion University (ODU) establishes the Commonwealth of Virginia’s largest academic health sciences center. Launched this month, Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences is a result of Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) integrating with ODU.

The integration brings five academic colleges and schools together into Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at Old Dominion University:

  • Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS);
  • Ellmer College of Health Sciences;
  • Ellmer School of Nursing;
  • EVMS School of Health Professions;
  • and the proposed Joint School of Public Health (awaiting approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Council on Education for Public Health), a partnership with Norfolk State University.

“The launch is just the beginning of our continued journey that will mark lasting impact, sustained improvement and positive momentum in the fundamental areas of education, research and clinical care throughout our region and the commonwealth,” ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., said. “As the largest academic health sciences center in the state, we offer more programs, enroll more students and produce more graduates.”

EVMS brings its rich 50-year history as a medical school founded by the community, for the community, to ODU, a Research 1 (R1) institution classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. By integrating with ODU, nearly 2,195 EVMS employees became state employees and more than 1,440 students became Monarchs.

In a letter to campus, President Hemphill wrote, “As we have successfully secured all required approvals, most notably from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the launch marks a transformational moment in the storied history of our great institution with the official establishment and first day of Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at Old Dominion University. It is a direct result of nearly three years of unwavering collaboration, true partnership and hard work at both the individual and collective levels across our campus and the community.”

In a recent video message to EVMS, Alfred Abuhamad, M.D., now serving as ODU’s executive vice president for health sciences and dean of Eastern Virginia Medical School, acknowledged the hard work and investment of talent and time by faculty and staff.

“Because of you — and your dedication to our shared ideals, your faith in our promise — we stand today on the shoulders of our founders and all who came before us empowered to shape a future that is stronger and healthier for our entire community and even beyond,” he said.

The integration was achieved through the leadership and support of Governor Glenn Youngkin and Virginia’s General Assembly, including The Honorable Sen. L. Louise Lucas and The Honorable Del. Barry D. Knight, who served as chief co-patrons of the enabling legislation. The General Assembly allocated $65 million for operations in the 2024-26 biennium budget.

Sentara Health is a committed partner to the integration, dedicating approximately $350 million in funding over the next decade to ensure high-quality training for the next generation of healthcare professionals.

On June 7, the University announced two major gifts of support totaling $40 million. Dennis and Jan Ellmer committed $20 million to provide scholarships for students pursuing health sciences degrees at ODU. The awards, through the Dennis & Jan Ellmer Health Scholars Program and the Dennis & Jan Ellmer Nursing Scholars Program, represent a unique mix of both need- and merit-based criteria. Within a decade of operation, the Ellmer Health Scholars Program alone will provide a total of $3.3 million in direct support of 275 total scholarship awards in both new and renewable formats.

The academic health sciences center bears the name of the late Macon Brock and his wife, Joan Brock, whose generous gift of $20 million established the Brock Opportunity Scholarship for medical students. The scholarship will support promising students with financial need who live in Virginia, are interested in caring for underserved populations, and plan to practice in Hampton Roads or Virginia upon completion of their residency or fellowship.