By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick has been named a 2020 Distinguished 400 Award winner by the federally established 400 Years of African American History Commission.

The award commemorates the 400th anniversary since the first Africans landed at Old Point Comfort (now Fort Monroe) by honoring 400 individuals to acknowledge and highlight their roles as trailblazers and champions for African Americans across the diaspora.

"President Broderick's commitment to diversity and inclusion makes him a role model - not to some of us, but to all of us," Provost Austin Agho and Interim Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Don Stansberry wrote in the nominating letter.

Throughout his tenure, President Broderick has prioritized diversity and inclusiveness in numerous ways. Among them:

  • Implementing a reorganization of the Office of Affirmative Action into the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.
  • Creating the Office of Intercultural Relations.
  • Setting up the President's Task Force for Inclusive Excellence and funding a budget to implement ODU's diversity strategic plan.
  • Establishing faculty diversity leaders for each college.
  • Establishing a student advisory group on inclusive excellence.
  • Hiring a female dean of sciences, the first African American and female dean of engineering, the first African American women's head basketball coach and the first Black provost.

His efforts have helped Old Dominion become one of the most diverse institutions in Virginia, with students of color making up 48% of enrollment. The University was recently listed as one of America's 100 "Best Employers for Diversity" by The University ranks in the top 15 nationally in graduating African American students.

For his initiatives on diversity, ODU's Diversity Champion Award was renamed in his honor. In addition, the Broderick Dining Commons was named for the President and First Lady Kate Broderick at the request of student leaders to recognize their commitment to inclusion initiatives and student success.

"President Broderick richly deserves this award," said Melvina Sumter, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice who spearheaded the commission's signature program called "Writing A New History: Let's Talk About Our Dream" and was among was among the ODU faculty and staff who nominated him for the award. "His efforts have not only benefitted our students, but the larger ODU community as well."

Three other Hampton Roads residents also were named Distinguished 400 Award winners: former Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton and Norfolk State University professors Cassandra Newby-Alexander and Colita Fairfax.

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