By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., hailed the annual Founders' Day celebration as "an opportunity to reflect on our rich history and plan for our promising future."

The theme of luncheon, which was held Friday in the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, was "New Beginnings: Celebrating the Latest Chapter in University Leadership and Honoring Historic Firsts in our Past."

After the audience viewed a montage of "firsts" put together by Steven M. Bookman, the University archivist, and the Founders' Day committee, President Hemphill discussed engagement in a newly launched, yearlong strategic planning process, with a goal of creating a shared vision that would "propel ODU to national and international prominence."

"A new beginning provides the opportunity to look with fresh eyes at the possibility of what lies before us," he said. "I am confident, very confident, there are great possibilities ahead for this institution and this community. There is a steadfast and optimistic spirit that I can feel at ODU. This spirit can be felt right here on campus, across the community and throughout the commonwealth. Like each of you, I am excited about what we will accomplish together as a Monarch Nation."

The event, which has been held since 1987, was co-hosted by Town-N-Gown, an independent association dedicated to developing a mutual understanding between Old Dominion and the civilian and military communities of Hampton Roads.

The organization's president, Rob Grandon, presented its Rita M. Costello Community Service Award to Thaler McCormick, chief executive officer of ForKids, one of the largest service providers for homeless families and children in Virginia.

McCormick has been with the organization for 25 years and became its CEO in 2001. She has grown the organization from serving just 16 families in Norfolk to serving more than 70,000 individuals annually in Southeastern Virginia. She has implemented a broad network of public, private and nonprofit partnerships. Most recently, she oversaw a $25 million capital campaign to create regional service centers in Suffolk and Chesapeake.

"ForKids is an organization that has been working to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty in Southeastern Virginia for more than 30 years," Grandon said. "Her efforts were pivotal in bringing to life the two regional service centers, one in Suffolk and another in Chesapeake. The addition of these facilities will allow Thaler and the ForKids organization to serve a far greater number of families in the years to come."

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