By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

Ted Ellis, Scholar-in-Residence in Old Dominion University's College of Arts & Letters, has been recognized for his service, receiving a President's Gold Volunteer Service Award from the White House.

"The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. I congratulate you on taking it upon yourself to contribute to the public good, and I'm proud to present you with the President's Gold Volunteer Service award in recognition of your 500 hours of service to this great Nation," President Joseph Biden said in a commendation letter. "Throughout our country's history, the American story has been strengthened by those who combine an optimism about what can be with the resilience to turn that vision into reality."

Ellis has been highly involved in various service projects across the country, including serving as the 400thYears of African American History Commission and Art Ambassador of the National Juneteenth Organization. He has also been recognized recently by the City of Galveston, where Juneteenth celebrations are thought to have originated for his work on Juneteenth history.

"The power of art is incredible, it empowers us, it heightens our senses and improves our human with and well-being," Ellis said.

During previous visits to the University, along with the exhibition and unveiling of a new painting, "The First Family," Ellis engaged with the Lamberts Point Community Center and the Children's Museum in Portsmouth, among others. And when the exhibition in the Goode Theatre was closed as precaution against the spread of COVID-19, Ellis participated in the Arts@ODU Summer Series and a virtual presentation, "Diverse Conversations with Ted Ellis: Using Art to Understand Racism," with the Office of Faculty Diversity and Retention, the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the 400 Years of African American History Commission, as well as an ongoing conversation series with the College of Arts & Letters this summer on Instagram and Zoom.

"The college is very proud to partner with Ted on this important work to bring attention to Juneteenth and conversations about race in America," said Jonathan Leib, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

The Barry Art Museum also acquired one of Ellis' paintings, "Writing a New History (STEAM)," for its permanent collection.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, much of Ellis' work this year has been virtual. On June 14, he will be the featured speaker for the University's Juneteenth celebration, "Juneteenth through Art and History." Free and open to the public, the event takes place at 3 p.m. on Zoom. No RSVP required.

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