Week of 5/20/13
Today's most promising jobs have health in common
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, May 18, 2013)
I came in dead last.
That's why a survey caught my eye recently that compared 200 jobs by income, stress and hiring outlook.
Lumberjacks elbowed out newspaper reporters for spot No. 199.
I'm not going to argue with them. A pen may be mightier than the sword, but it's no match against a chainsaw.
Of course, I had to peek at the other end of the spectrum, where No. 7 leapt to my attention:
That was the other major I was considering when going to college in Missouri three decades ago.
Journalist? Or occupational therapist? ...
Over at Old Dominion University, enrollment in health sciences grew by 10 percent during the past year.
"The economy has gotten tight, and costs keep going up, so students and their families are looking for something where they know they are going to have a job at the end of it," said Shelley Mishoe, the dean of the college of health sciences there.
Registered nurses are red-hot in job potential, but it's also competitive to get into ODU's nursing school, with only 25 to 30 percent of applicants snagging a spot. Dental hygienists and laboratory techs also are in demand. (More)
Group: Big dreams for local mass transit achievable
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 19, 2013)
It was unanimous. All 30 tables of participants in last year's Reality Check conference on the region's future said transportation was a key issue to tackle. Twenty-seven, or 90 percent, supported expanding mass transit. On Thursday, about 150 people gathered at Old Dominion University to review the results and start moving forward.
Dwight Farmer, director of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, imagined a multirail network - with light rail, high speed and Amtrak - connecting the region to other parts of the state and beyond.
Don't think it's impossible, said guest speaker Robert Grow, president and CEO of Envision Utah. Utah, he said, is known for its conservatism, with Democrat Bill Clinton finishing third in 1992, behind Republican George H.W. Bush and independent Ross Perot. Yet voters in the state twice approved tax increases to extend rail lines, Grow said.
A detailed report of the local findings is available at the Urban Land Institute's website, hamptonroads.uli.org. Some wondered why only 11 tables - 37 percent - raised the issue of rising sea level last year. ODU veep Bob Fenning said the university's on top of it, with a sea-level initiative. Fenning noted that ODU had just announced the appointment of Hans-Peter Plag, a professor in South Africa who studies climate change and rising sea level. (More)
Time for another 'Reality Check'
(Inside Business, May 17, 2013)
During Game Day, an Urban Land Institute-sponsored event held last year at Old Dominion University, more than 300 stakeholders gathered for an exercise in visioning the region's future growth. But architect Burrell Saunders, ULI Hampton Roads District Council chair, said that exercise only started the conversation about working together.
On Thursday, the conversation with last year's participants continued with "Reality Check: The Inception of Your Vision," held again at Old Dominion University. But because of press time, details of the event could not be provided for this issue.
Instead, Saunders talked about the findings from the May 2012 event, released last week. At that event, 30 tables of 10 people each worked together to map where additional transportation, population, jobs and development could go using yarn and Lego pieces, and to define what areas should be protected.
Game Day participants, Saunders said, were asked to come up with three guiding principles for deciding future growth. According to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the Hampton Roads population was 1.697 million in 2012 and is expected to grow 6.7 percent in the next 10 years.
According to the findings, guiding land use principles listed most consistently last year were - regionalism; quality of life; business and economics; land use patterns; transportation; and the environment.
Most tables agreed that Hampton Roads communities need to work together, despite the state code that limits the extent of regional planning and collaboration.
"A strong economy depends on the development of an interconnected, efficient transportation network within the region as well as external connections by water, rail and roadways," the findings said. (More)
Hampton Roads apartment market getting overbuilt?
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 20, 2013)
Bulldozers are making room for new high-end apartments and retail space on Granby and Freemason streets and across the alley on Boush Street in downtown Norfolk.
Buddy Gadams, the developer behind the yet-to-be-named project, is building 136 luxury apartments from the ground up, and he isn't stopping there. He plans to develop three more apartment projects downtown in the next 18 months, but he isn't ready to discuss details.
All that is in addition to the Gadams-owned Wainwright Building downtown, which he is converting from offices to apartments. He's developing apartments in Norfolk's East Beach community, too.
"I think we've seen a transition from home ownership to rental for a lot of different categories of folks," especially young professionals, retirees and members of the military, Gadams said. ...
Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics at Old Dominion University, questions whether some of the people who lost their homes or were underwater on their mortgages are starting to recover and re-enter the housing market.
Home sales and median prices have been consistently - if slowly - improving over the last year.
Meanwhile, the Hampton Roads apartment market gained 439 renters from October 2011 to October 2012. In the same time, about 1,300 units were added to the overall supply.
Vacancy rates - a benchmark that plays a role in how much developers can charge in rent - likely will increase to 8 percent this year as new supply outpaces demand, according to the Real Data report.
Across the region, the apartment vacancy rate increased to 7.3 percent in October (the latest data available) from 6.4 percent in October 2011.
"My concern here is, are we building too many units in a very short time?" Agarwal said. "Could it be that we are simply overreacting to this market?" (More)
(Inside Business, May 16, 2013)
She might have lost a show, but she hasn't lost her voice.
Cathy Lewis, the former host of "What Matters," a show on the PBS station WHRO, saw the show go off the air because of funding cuts. However, her radio show on WHRV FM, "Hearsay with Cathy Lewis," is still on every weekday with about 30,000 listeners tuning in each day.
And as executive director of the Civic Leadership Institute, Lewis helps train up-and-comers - alongside oldtimers - in the fine art of leadership. In the past year, the institute has teamed with Old Dominion University to start a Civic program there.
"We both see it as a way to instill the ethos and skill set of public service and, if some of these students want to stay in Hampton Roads, we see it as a strategy to combat brain drain," Lewis said. "In addition, I've spent the past several years making the case for civility - I like to think of the radio show as a living civility lab - and will be taking that case to corporations and organizations this year. The case statement is that a civil environment can reduce risk and increase innovation." (More)
Old Dominion's American-made man
(ESPN.com, May 16, 2013)
After he'd lost his dream job, Jeff Jones threw a party.
It was easier that way.
The festivities seemed to lessen the blow of a fall that started with Jones guiding Virginia, his alma mater, to the Elite Eight and ended with drama and bundles of losses that his bosses would not accept.
The final outcome seemed simple to him. He just hadn't won enough, the ultimate sin at any major program. He was fired in 1998. ...
Last month, Jones was tabbed by Old Dominion to restore a program that reached the NCAA tournament in 2010 and 2011 as an anchor in the CAA but won just three conference games during the 2012-13 season.
Jones worked with Dr. Camden Wood Selig, Old Dominion's athletic director, at Virginia. That connection, combined with the program's past success, magnified Jones' intrigue in the position.
He said there's promise in the fact most of the players on the roster were underclassmen. Those players have a new coach who's not intimidated by the circumstances. Jones pushed American to its first NCAA tourney appearances in 2008 and 2009. That squad went 11-18 the season before he arrived.
"I don't know how to quantify it, but there's no question in my mind that I'm a smarter, better coach and hopefully, I'm a smarter, better person having gone through both the good times and the bad," Jones said. (More)
Region's April home sales are up 10.9 percent
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 16, 2013)
Home sales in South Hampton Roads continued to pick up in April, but the median price of existing homes was essentially flat, according to a report released Wednesday.
Buyers purchased 1,150 existing homes in South Hampton Roads last month, up 10.9 percent from the 1,037 bought in April 2012, according to the Virginia Beach-based Real Estate Information Network, the region's multiple-listing service.
The median price of existing homes came in at $189,950, up only $50 from April 2012.
Still, "the housing market seems to be recovering," said Vinod Agarwal, economics professor at Old Dominion University. "Sales volumes are up. Prices have not gone up as much," but they have increased nearly 4 percent year to date.
Distressed sales in Hampton Roads dropped to 27.8 percent of total sales in April, down from 31 percent the same month last year. Distressed sales include foreclosures and short sales, which occur when a seller owes more on a mortgage than a house is worth.
Compared with April 2012, a larger percentage of foreclosed homes were sold last month, while the percentage of short sales decreased. Foreclosed homes typically sell for less than short sales, so that may have contributed to the flat median price for the month, Agarwal said. (More)
Talks continue, but Wilder's pay raise is coming soon
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 16, 2013)
It's taken months longer than anticipated, but negotiations for a new contract between Old Dominion and football coach Bobby Wilder are going well and a new deal should be signed by mid-June, athletic director Wood Selig said.
Selig had said shortly after the football season ended in early December that he planned to "tear up" Wilder's contract, which had nine years remaining, and negotiate a new deal. He pledged to do so in part because of ODU's success - the Monarchs were 11-2 last season and are 38-10 under Wilder - and because the school is moving up to Conference USA in 2014.
Selig said he wants to increase Wilder's pay to a level comparable with other C-USA coaches by 2015.
Although negotiations have taken longer than expected, Selig said they have been amicable and that a deal will be reached.
Wilder is represented by Dennis Cordell, who founded the Washington firm called Coaches Inc. The firm represents dozens of coaches, including Virginia head football coach Mike London, Florida International and former Norfolk State basketball coach Anthony Evans and ODU quarterbacks coach Ron Whitcomb.
"We haven't had a chance to work through every topic that we need to," Selig said. "There are two or three points that both sides want to get right. But things are going well." (More)
Summer Arts Festival Guide: Get into art outside
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 16, 2013)
WHEN JEAN BENVENUTO first brought her paintings to the Boardwalk Art Show in Virginia Beach during the early 1980s, there was much she didn't know.
She didn't have a tent, so she built an 80-pound display stand that was "totally exposed to the elements," the artist said. "My plan for the elements was a huge plastic drop cloth."
Weather wasn't the problem. She was all set up when another artist approached her and said, "You're in my space." ...
"That's my new-kid-on-the-block story," said the artist, who now has the surnames Benvenuto Stith and teaches art at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, where she lives. She and Whitworth have exhibited their work beside each other for 32 Boardwalk shows, and will this year, too.
"We sort of raised our kids out there together, and got to know our extended family," which includes other artists who set up on that block each year, including Carlton Abbott of Williamsburg.
Along with paintings, Benvenuto Stith will bring to the June show her new figure drawings, some developed into mixed media pieces with a more finished look. Her price range: $75 to $2,000. It's a new direction for her, spurred by a life drawing class she recently took that was led by Elizabeth Leeor at Old Dominion University. (More)
Raspiller: John Tyler ready for 'next level'
(Chesterfield Observer, May 15, 2013)
Dr. Edward E. "Ted" Raspiller wasn't unhappy in his current post as president of the Brazos County Campuses at Blinn College. He wasn't sending out résumés, looking for an escape route from Bryan, Texas.
But when Dr. Marshall Smith announced his retirement as president of John Tyler Community College last November, the "ideal opportunity," as Raspiller described it, was simply too much for him to ignore.
"Virginia's community college system is one of the best in the country," Raspiller said in an interview with the Observer last week. "To be part of that at a school like John Tyler is very exciting." At 48 years old, he will become the Chesterfield college's seventh president on Aug. 5.
Nobody is more aware than Raspiller of the challenge inherent in succeeding Smith, who guided JTCC through a period of unprecedented growth during his nearly 23 years at the helm.
"Marshall Smith has done an unbelievable job," Raspiller added. "The foundation is in place and they're ready to go to the next level. I couldn't have scripted it any better."
A self-described "student of community colleges," Raspiller began his pursuit of higher education by earning an associate's degree from the College of DuPage in Illinois.
Having earned his doctorate from Northern Illinois University, he's spent much of his career in the Midwest. In addition to two stints at Blinn College, he's held positions at Southeastern Community College in Iowa, Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin and Texas State Technical College.
He does have ties to Virginia, though, having directed a doctoral program in Community College Leadership at Old Dominion University from 2006 to 2010.
Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, referenced Raspiller's familiarity with the commonwealth and his "thorough pedigree" as two of the many factors that made him the most attractive candidate for JTCC. (More)
Troubleshooter: Fraud protection customers can bank on
(WVEC-TV, May 14, 2013)
In the nerve center of Hampton-based Old Point National Bank, there are hi-tech computers keeping track of tens of thousands of transactions. Every move a customer makes with his debit or credit card is tracked to create a customer profile In order to help identify fraud.
"They use very complicated computer algorithms to figure this stuff out. It actually is pretty amazing the type of technology they use and the types of inputs they use to find the patterns. They look at patterns across the entire consumer base and then overlay that with your type of usage," explains Robert Shuford, Old Point's senior executive vice president.
Those patterns are what makes it easier for banks to spot suspicious activity. Often times, banks know something's wrong before you do.
Yorktown resident Carissa Butler had no idea someone was trying to use her credit card number in Florida until she got a call from her bank.
"Clearly I didn't because I live in Virginia and the charges happened in Florida," says Butler.
Shuford says a customer who's the victim of fraud has zero liability if it's reported or caught within a reasonable amount of time. That puts pressure on the banks to sharpen their detection skills because fraud is costing them millions.
Fraud expert and ODU accounting professor Dr. Douglas Ziegenfuss says people would be surprised to learn what banks know about them. What they learn about you protects their bottom line.
"Any losses that they have to incur obviously go right down to the bottom line and jeopardize their profitability," he notes. (More)
Making this region friendly to bicycles
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, May 15, 2013)
As cyclists gather tonight for the annual Ride of Silence, memorializing those killed on bikes in Hampton Roads, it's appropriate to note the recent work of our communities to make the roads safer.
Norfolk has added miles of striping and shared-use markings to Colonial Avenue, Granby Street, Llewellyn and Ocean View avenues and other major bike commuting routes throughout the city.
It's beginning a bike-share program that provides bicycles for city employees to use on a short-term basis.
Old Dominion University was just awarded the coveted title "Bicycle-Friendly University," one of six in Virginia, mostly because of its popular Bike ODU program allowing students and employees to check out bikes for free. ...
Biking is great exercise. It doesn't pollute the atmosphere. It encourages riders to appreciate their neighborhoods and communities in ways that driving can't.
This month is Bike Month, with all manner of activities to entice people onto a two-wheeler. It's also time to appreciate the changes under way in Hampton Roads to make the streets safer for everyone. (More)
Olympic gold medalist McCurry to speak at ODU
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 15, 2013)
Olympic gold medalist Francine McCurry is among the scheduled speakers for a conference Saturday at Old Dominion University.
The Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women runs from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., at the Webb Center. Life skills coaching expert Chemise Platt also is among the scheduled speakers.
The conference is designed to educate young women on topics including leadership skills, career development, self-esteem and living a healthy lifestyle.
McCurry, a Bethel High School and Hampton University graduate, won gold in last year's Olympics as a member of the women's 4-by-400-meter relay team. (More)
Viewpoint: College pet owners may be happier, healthier
(USA Today College, May 14, 2013)
Pet owners, particularly dog owners, are happier and healthier than those living without companions, according to findings recently published in the medical journal Circulation.
Pair that with the fact that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has used animal therapy programs in hospitals and nursing homes for over a decade, one could see why owning a pet could be beneficial college students.
"They need attention but so does school," says Cassandra Reeves, 21, senior at Middle Tennessee State University. "My puppy [a Bassett hound/Husky mix] keeps me sane a lot of the time."
Researchers at Ohio State University found that chief reasons for college students owning pets were to help cope with adversity or to help feel less lonely.
"College is a very stressful environment for them and sometimes they can feel isolated or overwhelmed" says Sara Staats, Professor emeritus and lead author of the study. "Many feel their pets will help get them through these difficult and stressful situations, and ... without their pet, they would feel lonely." ...
If, after considering all options, adopting a pet is still something you want to do, it can be worth it.
"They do beg for attention from time to time which can get annoying when I am busy doing homework," says Shayla Fett, 20, sophomore at Old Dominion University. "[But] I can't imagine myself without them, they definitely make me a happier person." (More)
ODU recognized as a 'bicycle friendly university'
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 13, 2013)
Old Dominion University has been named a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.
The honor recognizes the school's new bike-share program, Bike ODU, which was introduced last fall with a fleet of 48 bicycles.
Students, staff and faculty who are members of the Student Recreation Center can check out the bikes at no charge.
They come with a U-lock, helmet and basket, and may be borrowed for up to one week.
So far, Bike ODU has tallied more than 3,000 user days - the number of days the bikes have been used by riders.
ODU officials say the program promotes physical fitness while decreasing the use of cars on campus.
ODU is one of six Bicycle Friendly Universities in Virginia and one of 58 nationwide.
It's the only one in Hampton Roads. (More)
Will insurers pay you not to speed?
(MSN Money, May 13, 2013)
Would you speed if you were paid not to?
That's the thrust of a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that motorists followed speed limits when offered financial perks.
The study, conducted by researchers from Old Dominion University in Virginia and Western Michigan University, focused on 50 people who drove cars equipped with GPS trackers designed to monitor speed. Drivers who didn't go over the limit received $25 each week.
But motorists who drove 5 to 8 mph too fast were penalized three cents each time. If they went 9 mph or more above the limit, the penalty doubled to six cents.
"This had a robust effect in getting drivers to reduce their speeding," says Ian Reagan, the study's lead researcher and now a senior researcher for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). "Egregious speeding, driving 9 or more mph over the limit, was just about eliminated for those that had the incentive" not to speed. ...
Insurers should consider rewarding policyholders if they obey speed limits, which would reduce traffic accidents, deaths and injuries, and the resulting auto claims and health coverage costs, says James Bliss, an Old Dominion University professor and one of the NHTSA study's key researchers.
It's too soon to tell if insurers would adopt such a plan, and if they did, how it would work. One option could be predetermined bonuses to drivers who don't speed, similar to Allstate's "Safe Driving Bonus Check" of up to 5% of premiums for every six months of accident-free driving. (More)
Alan Merten earned $1.87 million in last year of GMU presidency
(The Washington Post, May 13, 2013)
As he left the presidency of George Mason University last year, Alan G. Merten earned nearly $1.2 million in retirement benefits, making him one of the nation's top-paid public university leaders, according to a new survey.
Merten's total 2012 compensation for his 16th and final year as GMU president was $1.87 million, the survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education found. That placed him fourth among 214 public college and university presidents.
Here is compensation data for other public higher education leaders in Virginia and Maryland who were among the top 100 nationally: ...
**Charles W. Steger, Virginia Tech president since January 2000, received about $858,000, ranking 7th;
**Teresa A. Sullivan, University of Virginia president since August 2010, received about $732,000, ranking 15th;
**Michael Rao, Virginia Commonwealth University president since July 2009, received about $686,000, ranking 22nd;
**William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland since August 2002, received $490,000, ranking 80th;
**Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County since May 1992, received about $487,000, ranking 82nd;
**Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland at College Park since November 2010, received about $483,000, ranking 83rd; and
**John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University since June 2008, received about $473,000, ranking 87th. (More)
Cost to rebuild ODU basketball? $440,000 a year
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 14, 2013)
The cost of nearly everything is rising with Old Dominion's impending move to Conference USA. Compared to the amount the Monarchs were paying former men's basketball coach Blaine Taylor, however, the school isn't extending itself as far in its deal with new coach Jeff Jones.
Jones and ODU agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him $440,000 annually, plus a yet-to-be determined amount for radio, television, marketing and performance bonuses, according to a letter of agreement obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. A formal contract has yet to be signed and may contain additional details.
Taylor made just under $750,000 in 2011, the last year for which tax records are available for the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation, which provided the bulk of his salary. He was fired in February, a month prior to the finish of his 12th season.
Taylor received $420,000 in 2011 from the foundation, which is private. Jones' deal calls for a base salary of $206,200, with "supplemental income" of $233,800 paid by ODAF, athletic director Wood Selig said. (More)
Another Verlander makes a name for himself
(USA Today, May 13, 2013)
The larger-than-life faces and bodies of former Old Dominion University baseball players beckon from the outfield grass. In right center, next to his retired No. 35 and last name, is a frozen blue-and-white image of Justin Verlander in the middle of his pitching motion splattered on the wall.
A few feet away stands Monarchs right fielder Ben Verlander, quite literally playing in the shadow of his famous brother.
But the pressure of being Justin Verlander's little brother is not showing, as Ben, 21, leads the team with a .367 batting average, a .633 slugging percentage and 10 home runs this season.
MLB POWER RANKINGS: Cardinals take top spot
NCAA POLL: Vanderbilt ranked No. 1
A year ago, though, Verlander hit .250 while posting an 8.83 ERA. So Verlander, brother of the game's most dominant pitcher, is now a full-time hitter, and that's good for him, his family and Old Dominion, which already has recorded nine more wins than it did all of last season. But, mostly, it's best for Verlander. Almost instantly by making the decision to give up on pitching, a 6-5, 225-pound Cy Young Award-winning weight was lifted off his shoulders and relegated to the outfield wall. (More)