By: Annette Finley-Croswhite

Since 2020, Provost Austin Agho’s Leadership Development Series has offered a forum for over forty-eight participants to explore their leadership interests. The 2023 cohort included Drs. Joanna Garner (Center for Educational Partnerships), Anne Jeng (Community and Environmental Health), Gary Beck (Communication & Theatre Arts), Barbara Hargrave (Biological Sciences), Hua Liu (Political Science & Geography), and Tim Anderson (Communication & Theatre Arts). A fourth cohort is planned for spring 2024, and the program will begin accepting applications in December 2023. A call for nominations will be forthcoming.

The 2023 Provost’s Leadership Development Series (PLDS) was facilitated by Dr. Kate Hawkins, former Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Paul Currant, Senior International Officer, Dr. Shanda Jenkins, Director of the Office of Faculty Diversity and Retention, and Dr. Annette Finley-Croswhite, Director of the Center for Faculty Development. The series is focused on creating positive transformational change and offering aspiring leaders the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding about how Old Dominion University operates and what it means to be a leader. As part of the series, cohort members pursue team projects addressing key university issues. Each team is given $1000 to facilitate projects. Eligible cohort members who participate in PLDS events, complete a group project, and prepare a personal action plan receive a Certificate of Completion. We are happy to announce that all six members of the 2023 cohort received their Certificates.

In the third series, participants attended core sessions on: 1) Seeing your world through new lenses; 2) Leadership and trust; 3) Leading for equity and excellence; and 4) Leading in times of change. Bonus sessions offered cohort members insight into fiscal matters, legal issues, leadership and communication, and courage and integrity in leadership. The cohort also participated in a group book read of David Gergen’s "Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are Made." Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Austin Agho hosted a final group luncheon with Associate Vice President for Corporate Partnerships Sarah Jane Kirkland as guest speaker.  

The 2023 cohort was divided into two groups to devise specific projects. Group 1 consisted of Garner, Beck, and Jeng who created a podcast series entitled “Monarch LEADS” focused on ODU leaders and their diverse perspectives on leadership. Eight podcasts were created, and these amazing and inspirational discussions are housed on the Center for Faculty Development website. We encourage you to investigate and listen: Monarch LEADS. Garner states, “The Monarch Leads podcast was a natural extension of our group’s desire to find out more about the experiences of colleagues who lead in various capacities at the university.” Beck added, “The series drew attention to the motivations and experiences of many great changemakers and innovators here at ODU.”


Group 2 consisted of Hargrave, Liu, and Anderson who worked with the ODU Office of Counselling Services to launch a cross-college campaign entitled “Our Students Matter: Monarch Mental Health Wellbeing Campaign.” The campaign encouraged faculty to complete the Kognito Mental Health Training to better understand how to identify and respond to mental health problems in the student population. Kognito. 23% of ODU faculty completed the Kognito Mental Health Training.  Group 2 also created a story map to provide details of the campaign and to reveal completion rates by college and department. Story Map. Hargrave noted satisfaction that her group project “created opportunities to contribute to the well-being of our ODU students.” Liu articulated that working with her teammates gave her a “structured and comprehensive understanding of leadership.”

We hope you will congratulate members of the third cohort of the Provost’s Leadership Development Series. Additionally, if you are tenured teaching and research faculty, librarians 3 & 4, clinical associate and clinical full professors, non-tenure-eligible, and non-departmental-affiliated research faculty, we ask that you keep you eyes open for an upcoming announcement about how to apply for participation in the fourth cohort. The PLDS is your chance to focus on your leadership trajectory.