By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University has received approval to establish a School of Supply Chain, Logistics, and Maritime Operations from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), a move that will enhance ODU’s coordination of maritime-related programming and research and optimize regional economic development in the supply chain and maritime industry.

The new academic unit will be in place by Oct. 1, 2023.

The school builds on the University's legacy of maritime-focused initiatives, including the International Maritime, Ports and Logistics Institute created more than 30 years ago in the Strome College of Business.

The school will support the work of the Maritime Consortium, approved by President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., in November 2021. The consortium aims to promote and expand ODU's maritime-related resources, and support the workforce and research needs of several industries – naval and defense, shipbuilding and repair, commercial shipping, port and maritime supply chains, offshore wind and more.

“The establishment of this school is another significant step forward in our efforts to be not just a regional leader, but a national and even a global trailblazer in this critical area,” President Hemphill said. “The school will prepare our students to enter the workforce ready to take on the jobs that are vital for our national defense and our regional economy.”

The school, which will be located in Innovation Research Park 1 on Monarch Way and housed under the Office of Academic Affairs, is expected to raise visibility and awareness of the University’s supply chain, logistics and maritime programs.

“The establishment of this school is another significant step forward in our efforts to be not just a regional leader, but a national and even a global trailblazer in this critical area.” - ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

The school will use several strategies to coordinate University-wide academic programming and research initiatives. The new academic unit will: 

  • Convene a committee to develop a strategic plan for maritime and supply chain academic and research programming. 
  • Provide an administrative structure where maritime and supply chain faculty housed in existing departments can be offered joint appointments between the school and the home department.
  • Support the M-Collaborative, a gathering of faculty and researchers across disciplines working on issues in maritime and supply chain.
  • Work with academic advisors and admissions representatives to ensure that all are aware of the maritime and supply chain opportunities available to students. 
  • Develop and administer a seed fund promoting collaborative research. 
  • Evaluate the school director based on their ability to develop and expand partnerships across campus. 

Enrollment growth is anticipated in these disciplines, especially in the graduate program.

This, in turn, will increase the talent pool available to the regional supply chain and maritime workforce, something industry leaders say is sorely needed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the demand for workers trained in logistics is projected to increase by 30% from 2020 to 2030. With its proximity to the Port of Virginia, military bases and shipyards, ODU is a key partner in workforce development for the region.

“As an ODU alum, industry employer and someone who remains active with the University, I’m excited that graduates of the School of Supply Chain, Logistics, and Maritime Operations will have the opportunity for an education both academic and practical born out of collaboration between the University and will launch their careers in the transportation industry with a world-class degree,” said Wayne Coleman, chairman of Norfolk-based CV International, Inc., and chair of the school’s advisory board. “This one-of-a-kind school in Virginia is only the beginning of a brand that will propel ODU into the spotlight not only regionally but across the nation as the place to go for your education in supply chain, logistics and maritime operations.”

The programs that will reside in the school are the Master of Science degree in maritime trade and supply chain management; graduate certificate in maritime ports and logistics management; graduate certificate in supply chain management; and a minor in supply chain management.

But the school will also actively work to enhance the coordination of ODU’s many existing interdisciplinary programs and research activities. This includes certificates in maritime history, coastal engineering, supply chain management and spatial analysis of coastal environments; undergraduate majors in maritime trade, ocean and earth sciences, civil engineering and geography; and graduate programs in maritime trade and supply chain management, ocean and earth sciences and environmental engineering. It also will engage with the Coastal Center for Cyber Innovation (which includes a focus on maritime cybersecurity), the Hampton Roads Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem, Open Seas Technical Innovation Hub, the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience, and the Spatial Analysis Interdisciplinary Laboratory, among other research centers.

The school also aligns with ODU’s annual campus theme — Blue Connections — which provides funds for faculty, staff and administrators to expand their courses and research projects related maritime and supply chain.

“The school responds to community needs and is positioned to become a critical part of the region’s efforts to bolster its supply chain and maritime strengths,” said Brian K. Payne, vice provost for academic affairs.

In November 2021, the Hampton Roads Maritime Collaborative for Growth & Innovation (HRMC) released "A Pathway for Maritime Innovation in Hampton Roads," a report prepared by TEConomy Partners that identified opportunities to leverage and expand the region's innovation and workforce support for industry partners. The recommendations included building a sustainable home and brand for maritime innovation in Hampton Roads. In July 2022, ODU hired Elspeth McMahon to serve as its inaugural associate vice president for maritime initiatives. The ODU Maritime Initiative aims to advance the University as a globally recognized institution for maritime opportunities.

“ODU is poised to be a leading maritime-centric university,” McMahon said. “We are dedicated to providing progressive education, research and innovation to promote the blue economy. The creation of this school reflects our progress in this direction.”

A search is underway for the inaugural director of the new school. Mileta Tomovic, professor of engineering technology, is serving as the school’s interim director.