Kate Broderick’s Extensive Impact as First Lady
May 28, 2021
Kate Broderick has been the wife of the President of Old Dominion University - and much more. As First Lady of the University, publicly and behind the scenes, she has nurtured programs and students, leaving her mark from art to accessibility.
"Kate has been an integral part of John Broderick's presidency while making her own contributions to the vitality of the University," said Nina Brown, Eminent Scholar and professor of counseling and human services.
The First Lady said she wanted to emulate the standard set by her predecessor, Donna Koch. She's succeeded in her own way.
A former nurse and elementary school teacher, Mrs. Broderick served in several roles from 2005 to 2014 in ODU's Office of Educational Accessibility, including director and faculty and community liaison. "Kate achieved for many one thing that others could not always accomplish: She empowered students," Violet Strawderman '16 recalled at the opening of the Broderick Dining Commons.
When she received the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities in 2012, President Broderick called her an "amazing advocate for students with medical, psychological or learning disabilities. There is nothing she wouldn't do to help her students succeed, such as the December she drove a golf cart around campus in a snowstorm to ensure they were able to take their final exams."
One of her most significant achievements as First Lady was co-founding the Women's Initiative Network (WIN), which pairs first-generation female students with leading female professionals for mentoring and group sessions on such topics as financial and career planning. One mentor, Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said WIN has helped "accelerate the growth and success of future women professionals, teaching students about the value of paying it forward and becoming community advocates and leaders early in their career.
"It's a reflection of Kate and what's important to her and her ideals."
She also played a large role in the development of the Barry Art Museum. Carolyn Barry, who co-founded the museum with her husband, Richard, said it was the First Lady's idea to locate the museum on 43rd Street and Hampton Boulevard instead of a less prominent site.
"Kate is on our board, and she's an advocate for the museum throughout the University community. That's been very helpful," Richard Barry said. "We trusted John and Kate implicitly, and they delivered on every promise they made."
Perhaps her deepest influence has been with the students whom she has mentored. She and Eddie McClam '12, a defensive end, developed a ritual after each football game: She'd find him, ask him "Are you OK? Nothing wrong?" and hug him.
That continued by text when he played for the NFL. "I would always text back, 'Everything good,'" he said.
McClam, a college and career specialist at Oakton High School in Vienna, Virginia, considers her his other mom. She introduces him as her fourth son. "I wouldn't be the man I am today," he said, "if it wasn't for her and her encouragement and advice."
To read the commemorative section on President Broderick and First Lady Kate Broderick, as well as other articles, in the spring issue of Monarch magazine, go to www.odu.edu/monarchmag