Old Dominion University announced the naming of Kenneth J. Fridley, Ph.D. as its vice president for research effective January 10, 2024. Dr. Fridley has held the position on an interim basis since last August, while also serving as the dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology. Throughout this period, Dr. Fridley has provided strong leadership to the Office of Research, its personnel, programs, and initiatives, while also continuing his unwavering commitment to his college and his discipline.
Dr. Fridley will continue his dual role at the University as the vice president for research and interim dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology until a permanent leader for the college can be identified through a national search. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Austin Agho, Ph.D., will lead the search effort with the primary responsibilities for identifying a firm and convening a committee in the coming weeks. Provost Agho said, “I have enjoyed working with Dr. Fridley and having him as a part of the academic leadership team, but I have equally enjoyed being his colleague in the broader University structure. I am confident that he will continue to be a driven and successful member of the University community for many years.”
Dr. Fridley has extensive experience in academic and research administration. Prior to joining Old Dominion University in July 2022, Dr. Fridley served as the senior associate dean for administration at The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering for eight years. He also was the interim dean of the Honors College for one year and head of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering for 12 years. In these roles and during his 20-year tenure at The University of Alabama, he built a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and readiness for change, in addition to his long-standing history of grant activity.
Since becoming a Monarch, he has proven to be a visionary leader and active partner with a focus on teaching, research, and service. From a scholarly and research perspective, Dr. Fridley is recognized as a leading expert in engineered wood construction, performance, and hazard mitigation. He has published 65 peer-reviewed journal papers and co-authored the leading wood engineering design textbook, “Design of Wood Structures.” Dr. Fridley has been responsible for more than $14.4 million in sponsored research, which is supported by a wide variety of federal, state and industry sources. Much of his research has directly impacted the civil engineering profession, resulting in changes in national design specifications, standards and codes.
In being named the vice president for research, Dr. Fridley shared, “It has been such a busy and rewarding experience to serve in a dual role throughout the fall semester. I have gained a deeper appreciation for the University’s profound work across our tripartite mission of teaching, research and service. I am looking forward to providing a strong vision and transformative leadership to the University’s growing research enterprise and working with an outstanding group of dedicated research administrators and world-class faculty researchers.”
President Hemphill expressed his sincere appreciation and lasting gratitude to Dr. Fridley. The President stated, “Over the course of the past few months, I have seen Dr. Fridley as a truly active and highly capable leader on a number of complex and critical matters that have positioned Old Dominion University for greater levels of engagement and success in the areas of innovative research and economic development through best practices and innovative approaches. Without question, Dr. Fridley has a clear vision and detailed plan for how the Office of Research can facilitate and foster research and development throughout the University's academic colleges and research centers. Dr. Fridley is the right leader at the right time for Old Dominion University as we continue to advance our research footprint, impact, and specializations.”
Dr. Fridley’s appointment has received a positive reaction from members of the campus community.
- Sachin Shetty, Ph.D., who serves as the executive director of the Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems as part of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center and professor of Computational Modeling and Simulation Engineering, said, “As a proud Monarch alumnus and current faculty researcher, I congratulate Dr. Fridley on this well-deserved appointment. Under the leadership of President Hemphill, Dr. Fridley and his talented team are fully committed to enhancing the University’s research profile. As a top-tier research institution with the 2021 Carnegie Classification, our standing as a research institution continues to evolve, which will result in more active proposals and successful outcomes. Dr. Fridley will be a critical component of our continued development and future growth.”
- College of Health Sciences Dean Bonnie Van Lunen, Ph.D., stated, “Dr. Fridley’s collaborative approach has contributed to his resounding success in his own college and across the entire University. I appreciate President Hemphill’s ability to acknowledge phenomenal talent right here on our campus. With today’s announcement, Dr. Fridley will continue to excel at Old Dominion and receive significant levels of support from all of the academic deans and other Monarchs to advance our current and future research endeavors.”
- Faculty Senate Chair Michael Carhart, Ph.D., who is also a professor of History, shared, “Vice President Fridley recently completed a thorough revision of the research compliance and conflict of interests policy, which is a necessary measure given the increase in sponsored research that lifted us to R1 status. The Faculty Senate looks forward to Vice President Fridley’s leadership in the collaborative processes of policy and practice.”