Second Annual State of the University Address by Old Dominion University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.
Friday, November 3, 2023
Good morning, and welcome to the annual State of the University Address!
The state of our University is strong – stronger than ever.
In our continued journey to transform Old Dominion University and expand our profound impact regionally, nationally, and globally, we come together to celebrate our past, our present, and our future!
Indeed, the State of the University represents a special opportunity to highlight the individual and collective accomplishments of our fellow Monarchs!
Before we begin, there are a number of groups and individuals that I would like to recognize as their unwavering passion for our University is second to none.
I must begin with my bosses, members of the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors.
Please stand and remain standing when I call your name:
- Bruce Bradley, Rector;
- Murry Pitts, Vice Rector;
- Jerri Dickseski;
- Dennis Ellmer;
- Andy Hodge;
- Rudy Middleton;
- Dr. Juan Montero; and
- Ross Mugler.
These impactful leaders choose to share their time and talent with us.
Please join me in giving each of them a hearty round of applause for their dedicated leadership and selfless service!
In addition to the Board of Visitors, Old Dominion University is supported by a host of other boards that are dedicated to advancing the engagement and success of this institution.
To those in attendance, please stand and remain standing as your board is called:
- Alumni Association Board of Directors;
- Athletic Foundation Board of Trustees;
- Barry Art Museum Board of Directors;
- Educational Foundation Board of Trustees;
- Real Estate Foundation Board of Trustees;
- Research Foundation Board of Trustees; and
- All of our college advisory boards.
Let’s applaud these individuals for lending their expertise!
Next, I would like to recognize members of the Leadership Council.
At this time, I ask all members of the Leadership Council to please stand.
The Monarchs standing before you are true experts and strong leaders in their respective areas.
Please join me in applauding them for all that they do for ODU!
This administration and our institution are deeply committed to shared governance.
That critical work would not be possible without capable leaders to represent the interests and share the voices of various constituent groups.
At this time, I would like to ask the following individuals to stand and remain standing:
- Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Michael Carhart and all members of the Faculty Senate;
- All members of the Administrative and Professional Faculty Senate; and
- Student Government Association President Zaria Gassaway and all members of SGA.
Please join me in a hearty round of applause in recognition of their strong advocacy, endless support, and tireless work!
This next individual needs no introduction.
He has been an integral part of the fabric of this community for many years.
To my dear friend, Dr. Alfred Abuhamad, who serves as the President, Provost, and Dean of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, please stand.
Ladies and gentlemen, President Abuhamad is fully dedicated to his family, his institution, and his profession.
He is a true leader and tremendous colleague.
Today, President Abuhamad is joined by a large contingent of EVMS students, faculty, and staff.
To our EVMS colleagues and friends, please stand.
With the effort and expertise of hundreds of individuals on both campuses, we are closer than ever before to a successful integration.
Let’s take this opportunity to welcome EVMS into the ODU family!
And, last but certainly not least, I ask that you acknowledge my family, specifically my lovely wife and your First Lady, Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill, who is joined by my mother-in-law, Maria Rosas.
Please give my family a well-deserved round of applause for their commitment and service to the Monarch Nation!
As we think about impact and legacy, there are a few prominent individuals that I would like to pause and remember.
We often celebrate victories in the classroom, research, and competition, but I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the lives of three remarkable individuals, who left us this past year: the father of ODU athletic fundraising, Ed Fraim; former Women’s Head Basketball Coach, Nikki McCray-Penson; and a true champion of ODU and the region, Dubby Wynne
Please join me in a moment of silence.
Since 1930, Old Dominion University has fulfilled its important mission.
That original mission was solely dedicated to education.
However, in the decades that followed, which were marked by humble beginnings, we expanded our mission to include the worthwhile elements of research and service.
That expansion was possible due to the stewardship and vision of so many.
One of those individuals was Dr. Lewis W. Webb, Jr., who served as the first president of Old Dominion College.
In 1963, President Webb said, “The basic purpose of education is to provide the opportunity for each individual to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to recognize and discharge the personal and social responsibility of life.”
And, in 1969, the second president, Dr. James L. Bugg, Jr. said, “For the university has become the central pivot of our society, a society characterized by increasingly rapid change, where nothing is certain but uncertainty.”
That same year, President Bugg also said, “The post-industrial age which we are entering, the new technology which characterizes the cybernetic revolution, the increasingly interdisciplinary character of new knowledge raises questions of the relevance of contemporary education.”
These are examples that our institution has always been forward-focused.
Innovation is part of our foundation!
And, technology has always been in clear and constant focus.
These items represent pillars of strength at Old Dominion University.
In the words of our fourth president, Dr. Joseph M. Marchello, “Perhaps at no point in history have so many potentially powerful forces come together to influence the course of higher education.”
That sentiment was supported by our sixth president, Dr. James V. Koch, who said, “Undeniably, we are in a period of transition in American higher education.”
“Uncertainty exists in abundance.”
How familiar does this sound to each of you sitting here?
Today, we are joined by members of the Webb family – the family of our very first president!
As they stand, please join me in acknowledging them for their legacy!
These words from our prior leaders were true in the 1960s through 1990s, and they still ring true today!
Following more than a year of intensive work, our strategic plan, “Forward-Focused: Where Innovation Meets Possibilities,” began implementation this year!
This August, our very first progress report was shared with the campus and posted on the website.
Without question, our early results from the strategic plan demonstrate a clear conviction and strong momentum among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.
The center of our strategic plan – and all that we do at Old Dominion University – is fully and sharply focused on students, especially their engagement and success!
One ambitious goal is to ensure all graduating students have completed an internship beginning in 2027.
As a result, I am pleased to share that we have established the Monarch Internship and Co-Op Office.
At this time, I would like to ask the executive director, Dr. Barbara Blake, and her team to please stand.
Please join me in applauding these individuals for making opportunities attainable for current and future students!
And, beginning this fall, we made the transfer process from Tidewater Community College (TCC) to Old Dominion University seamless for a select group of students!
The TCC-ODU Monarch Ready Program is an exclusive, invitation-only preparatory program for applicants to our University.
Students start their first year at TCC and are provided targeted support for academic readiness as they prepare to transition to ODU in the second year.
Following their second year in college and first year at ODU, these students will earn their associate degrees from TCC as they continue to work towards their baccalaureate degrees.
This is a program that we are very excited about as a new Monarch journey begins for this cohort of approximately 100 students.
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank the TCC President, Dr. Marcia Conston, for her collaboration, friendship, and partnership in forging new opportunities right here in the City of Norfolk!
Dr. Conston, please stand as we applaud you!
Now, access and opportunity have always been points of pride for our campus.
Moving forward, we will maintain that effort, while also equally focusing on excellence and success.
This fall, our deep commitment to academic excellence was on display as we welcomed a record number of valedictorians and salutatorians.
Standing strong at 22, this cohort demonstrates that our institution is a destination for some of the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students.
Jennifer Burdette, a chemistry and biochemistry double major, is the University’s first undergraduate student to be selected as a Barry Goldwater Scholar.
This prestigious program was established in 1986 to honor the late Senator Barry Goldwater.
It is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.
Jennifer, a transfer student from TCC, is a perfect fit for this exemplary program as her collaborative research focuses on pharmaceuticals and infections.
Jennifer, please stand.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in applauding Jennifer for her prestigious selection, ongoing research, and future contributions as a medical scientist!
As our students are excelling in classrooms and laboratories, they are also engaging with various industries in the community!
A signature program of Old Dominion University is the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN).
Through an incredible network of mentors and mentees, this organization shines brightly.
Founded in 2014 and having served nearly 300 students, WIN has created meaningful connections and transformational experiences through mentoring and fundraising.
Their stories are powerful.
And, their impact is profound!
To all of those associated with WIN, please stand.
Our campus cannot wait to see all that WIN will accomplish as it continues to expand in the months and years to come.
Let’s show our sincere appreciation for their tremendous efforts and significant contributions!
The initiative, which recently received nearly $1 million in funding from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, exemplifies a campus-wide commitment to improve student retention.
Discover Your Dominion will help students understand the foundational principles of financial literacy, enhanced engagement, and a sense of belonging on campus.
At this time, I would like to ask the architects of Discover Your Dominion, Melanie Graham and Dr. Scott Harrison, as well as their partners, to please stand.
Let’s applaud these individuals for bringing new ideas and proven initiatives forward to benefit our students and enhance their success.
We are also partnering with the National Institute for Student Success (NISS), which is housed at Georgia State University.
The NISS has a proven history of empowering colleges and universities to achieve more.
They examine policies, practices, and structures among the key drivers of equity gaps that hinder student success.
The institute will work with campus partners on coaching and support that can create more equitable enrollment, retention, and graduation outcomes.
At this time, I would like to acknowledge our project sponsors and leads – Drs. Austin Agho, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, Brian Payne, and Evelyn Ashley – as they stand.
Please join me in applauding the work of this amazing team!
That was proven once again when a faculty member in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, who is a renowned scholar in computer vision and machine learning, was named a 2023 Outstanding Faculty Awards winner by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
That is quite the honor when you consider the number of faculty members across the Commonwealth.
Since the program was established in 1987, a total of 36 Outstanding Faculty Awards have been earned by our faculty.
At this time, I would like to ask Dr. Khan Iftekharuddin to please stand as we applaud this highly-regarded honor and well-deserved recognition!
And, perhaps the greatest example of excellence and service is our very own Dr. Nina Brown.
This past year, Dr. Brown celebrated a historic milestone.
She has been a powerful force on our campus for 55 years and counting.
An accomplished author with more than 40 books and a strong history of teaching and research, Dr. Brown took to the podium as part of our most recent Commencement exercises.
She proudly shared words of encouragement and inspiration with our graduate students.
Like always, she did not disappoint!
And, this past year, Dr. Brown answered the call to serve once again by stepping forward to lead the University Faculty Ombuds Program, which was developed for faculty and by faculty.
At this time, I would like to ask Dr. Brown to please stand.
Dr. Brown, you are a complete treasure and loved by so many.
Please accept our sincere appreciation and lasting gratitude from your ODU family for all that you have done on our campus and all that you will continue to do!
And, for a quarter of a century, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC) has served as a nationally-known applied research center focused on innovation, industry engagement, and digital transformation.
VMASC was established as the direct result of a close collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The goal was to create an academic center of excellence in modeling and simulation to advance and inform critical research.
Today, we can say that mission was accomplished as VMASC is the largest research unit at ODU supporting over 100 research faculty, scientists, technical professionals, and students, who performed over $15 million in sponsored research activity just last year.
VMASC proudly specializes in various areas, including modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence, and data analytics across such varied domains as advanced manufacturing, maritime engineering and management, cloud computing, cybersecurity, aerospace, and autonomous systems – just to name a few!
At this time, I would like to ask the Senior Associate Vice President for Applied Research, Dr. Eric Weisel, and the entire VMASC team to please stand.
Let’s applaud these talented individuals as we acknowledge their critical role and valuable work for our institution!
Building on the past success of our research efforts with like-minded organizations and well-positioned leaders, I want to take this opportunity to highlight one of our signature partnerships within our research enterprise.
Old Dominion University was a dedicated member of the consortium that established the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), as one of 17 Department of Energy national laboratories in 1984.
Today, we make an announcement that takes a bold step forward in our historic partnership.
ODU and JLab have officially established the Joint Institute on Advanced Computing for Environmental Studies (ACES).
This new endeavor represents JLab’s first joint institute with an academic partner, as well as the only Department of Energy joint institute involving a Virginia public university.
This comes on the heels of the public announcement that JLab is becoming home to the Department of Energy’s new High Performance Data Facility.
This joint institute brings together interdisciplinary expertise to address critical scientific questions in medicine, public health, and climate in the context of the broader environment.
As the first of its kind in Virginia, we have formed the interdisciplinary power to study the complex systems that underpin health and environmental concerns in Hampton Roads.
Co-founded and co-directed by Dr. Heather Richter at ODU and Dr. Malachi Schram at JLab, our vision is clear.
To honor our long-standing partnership with JLab and celebrate today’s important advancement, I would like to acknowledge the individuals, who are critical to these life-changing efforts, including our partners from the Department of Energy, JLab, and the Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium (HRBRC) in attendance.
Please stand and be recognized for our past work, current focus, and future success!
At a time when our academic and research enterprises are reaching unprecedented heights, we have taken a deeper dive and closer look at our operational structure to align with industry standards and best practices.
We cannot forget the Old Dominion University Police Department, which successfully secured reaccreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
This accreditation is considered the national gold standard and a level of excellence that we are so proud to daily demonstrate on our campus.
Of the approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, only 4.3% are CALEA-accredited.
And, only 2.2% of the roughly 4,000 university police agencies hold this recognition.
To the men and women of the ODU Police Department, please stand with pride and be recognized by the community that you serve and protect!
For more than a year, we have significantly benefited from the operation of two stand-alone divisions, University Communications and Digital Learning.
The organizational changes and financial investments in both of these areas have paid dividends for our campus.
At the forefront of our work, there is a strong focus on how we are telling the ODU story.
During the past year, University Communications has led that expanded and intentional effort.
In partnership with Information Technology Services, University Communications launched a new website that is more visually appealing and interactive.
This dedicated team has also been instrumental in the creation of new collateral, such as television spots and magazines, as well as signature mailings and direct outreach to highlight our important work in both research and social mobility.
Coverage of our coastal resilience research has reached national audiences.
And, we have more experts speaking on matters of public interest!
We have also recently introduced a branded beer and BBQ sauce, in partnership with local favorites like New Realm Brewing Company and the Dirty Buffalo, with a branded ice cream up next!
At this time, I would like to ask Vice President Jaime Hunt, the University Communications team, and their partners to please stand.
Let’s applaud them for their efforts!
Digital Learning has capitalized on our more than 40-year history with engagement and success in distance education with a complete rebranding effort around the new concept of ODUGlobal.
With a new look, expanded services, and increased support, a number of transformational approaches have been implemented.
Look no further than the establishment of our Military Transfer Pathways.
These 13 pathways support service members and enhance our military friendly position by reducing the amount of credits a service member has to take with ODU through the utilization of prior learning credits.
The designated pathways clearly communicate expectations and opportunities to prospective students and will be a key element of our outreach campaign to military communities locally, nationally, and internationally.
As a point of pride for our University and a focus moving forward in both Digital Learning and Academic Affairs, I want to recognize our faculty and staff, who were instrumental in building our 13 military pathways.
As these individuals stand, please join me in applauding them!
Additionally, ODUGlobal is now home to the newly-launched “Career in a Year” campaign, which encompasses a total of five programs.
This noncredit programming can be completed in less than a year and provides a launching point for an individual to embark on a new career path.
Also, I am so pleased to share that Digital Learning has been actively working in partnership with the School of Data Science and the School of Cybersecurity on two of our very first Artificial Intelligence (AI) certificates.
These graduate certificates will be available in Fall 2024.
Please join me in recognizing Vice President Nina Rodriguez Gonser, the Digital Learning team, and participating faculty – as they stand – for their incredible efforts and these important advancements!
And, most recently, we held the University’s first-ever AI Symposium with a number of AI events planned throughout the academic year by Digital Learning!
This forward-focused initiative will ensure that Old Dominion is at the forefront of digital transformation!
Could I ask all of the AI Symposium panelists and organizers to please stand?
Let’s applaud them!
In April of this year, approximately 700 Monarchs joined together to learn more about state funding and institutional processes during the inaugural Budget Summit with a keen focus on change and improvement.
The day-long event included breakout groups with more than 200 students, faculty, and staff engaged in idea and information sharing regarding the areas of efficiencies, innovation, and revenue generation.
We now have the Budget Summit Final Report, which will guide our future planning and implementation efforts with 21 specific recommendations.
Could I ask all Budget Summit participants to please stand?
Let’s acknowledge these individuals, especially Vice Presidents Chad Reed and Ashley Schumaker, for their active role in our operational and planning efforts!
I am happy to report that we are well on our way to addressing the identified opportunities.
One of the most significant issues was the negative impact and growing frustration of existing systems with various inefficiencies, including the inability to seamlessly communicate and integrate with other applications.
I am pleased to share that we are conducting a system-wide examination of software and technology-based platforms, including customer relationship management (CRM), to ensure seamless communication and full integration in order to reduce barriers, increase workflows, and improve outcomes.
And, I am also excited to announce a significant step forward in this important work.
Our campus has partnered with Salesforce and will be implementing the #1 CRM in education!
At this time, behind-the-scenes, technical work is occurring with several campus-wide groups being formed this fall.
As we plan for the development of a forward-facing interface and the activation of various features, we will have new automated possibilities and streamlined functions for admissions, advising, career services, marketing – just to name a few, and so much more across the student lifecycle.
Salesforce will be fully operational in 2024!
At this time, I would like to acknowledge Vice President Schumaker and all of those on the Salesforce implementation team.
Let’s give these folks a round of applause!
Without question, our first year in the Sun Belt Conference was one to remember.
Joining the Sun Belt has delivered on everything we were excited about and hoping for – less travel, more fans, better competition, and expanded coverage!
ESPN is such a great partner for the Sun Belt and has brought ODU Athletics into more households than ever before.
In our first year of Sun Belt competition, we displayed a championship effort that truly reflected and carried on the proud tradition of ODU Athletics!
We won three conference championships, including:
- Women’s Soccer;
- Women’s Tennis; and
- Men’s Tennis.
Although these players and coaches could not be here today due to away matches, let’s applaud these outstanding young women and men for being such great ambassadors of our University and the Commonwealth!
In the Sun Belt, ODU tied for the second most number of championships.
Now, that deserves a hearty round of applause!
And, we cannot forget Field Hockey.
Last year, they claimed the BIG EAST regular season championship.
The coaches and players of this nationally-recognized and highly-regarded program could not be here due to travel, but let’s applaud them for a job well done!
And, what about Leah Onosato, who is here with us today and became the Monarch’s first female golfer to win a conference championship this past spring?
Leah has such an incredible story that embodies determination and grit, and she has proven her ability to overcome with her relentless will to succeed.
Leah, please stand as we celebrate your individual accomplishment and Monarch pride!
Our 450 student-athletes were equally successful in the classroom.
Last year’s average GPA was 3.26, representing a department record, with women’s volleyball and men’s tennis as the top performers.
The same level of commitment in competition and in the classroom is carried into the community.
ODU Athletics completed a total of 5,321 hours of community service in the prior academic year, earning the top spot in the Sun Belt and ranking ninth among all NCAA D1 schools.
Now, that also deserves a hearty round of applause as well!
This kind of work cannot happen without great leadership.
At this time, I would like to ask the Director of Athletics, Dr. Wood Selig, to please stand as we applaud him!
As the gateway to the ODU Arts District, the Barry Art Museum is an artistic and educational destination for students, faculty, staff, and community members.
Founded by art collectors Carolyn and Dick Barry, the Barry Art Museum houses an extensive glass, painting, and doll collection.
The museum’s mission is to share educational resources through publications, exhibitions, educational programs, and collection stewardship.
In the past five years, the Barry Art Museum has brought a great deal of excitement and intrigue to the region.
This past summer, the museum announced a major gift from the Leah and Richard Waitzer Foundation.
The Waitzer glass and painting acquisition consists of 165 pieces in 20th-century and contemporary works.
Through the generosity of Leah and Richard's three sons, Eddie, Brad, and Scott, who serve as directors of the Waitzer Foundation, I am pleased to announce that this gift is valued at $10 million, which doubles the museum's holdings in glass.
To Eddie, Brad, and Scott Waitzer, as well as Vice President for University Advancement Alonzo Brandon, please stand as your ODU family shares our sincere appreciation!
At this time, I would like to make a special announcement about the future of the Barry Art Museum.
I am pleased – so pleased – to announce that the Barry Art Museum will be expanding with the design and construction of the Leah and Richard Waitzer Wing to be completed by the summer of 2027.
The expansion will provide five new exhibition spaces.
The new galleries will allow the museum to exhibit more of its growing permanent collection, as well as changing exhibitions.
The Waitzer Wing will provide new possibilities and limitless opportunities for the Barry Art Museum, our institution, and our region!
At this time, I would like to ask the following individuals to please stand:
- Carolyn Barry;
- Eddie, Brad, and Scott Waitzer;
- Charlotte Potter Kasic; and
- Members of the Barry Art Museum Board of Directors.
Please join me in acknowledging the generosity and leadership of these remarkable individuals!
Following more than two years of true collaboration, powerful partnership, and thoughtful planning, our integration with EVMS will come full circle on July 1, 2024.
As a result of dedicated funding and expanded support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and Sentara Health (Sentara), we are poised to make a profound impact on the future of our region and its people!
This could not occur without a long-term deal, which was approved by the Boards of Sentara, EVMS, and ODU.
I must take this opportunity to acknowledge the unwavering commitment of leaders from the state and Sentara for the manner in which they came together to place the significant and growing needs of our region first and foremost.
- Governor Glenn Youngkin and members of his Cabinet;
- Members of the General Assembly, especially our true champions, Chairman Barry Knight and Senator Louise Lucas;
- Members of the Sentara Board of Directors;
- Sentara President and CEO Dennis Matheis and members of his team, including Aubrey Layne and Dr. Jordan Asher; and
- Countless community leaders, who have made this their personal mission and passion!
To all of those who advocated for or invested in the integration, please stand.
Please accept a hearty round of applause!
To my fellow Monarchs, I am honored and humbled to stand before each and every one of you.
In closing, it is a privilege to serve as your president and lead an institution that is on the cutting-edge of discovery and distinction, as well as impact and innovation!
Without question, our University serves as the academic, cultural, and economic hub of Hampton Roads.
Let me say that again: we are at the center of what is happening in our region and beyond.
We are leading the way for this campus, our communities, and the Commonwealth.
This is not a responsibility that we take lightly.
In the past year, we have demonstrated time and time again that we are worthy of this level of excellence and deserving of this amount of recognition.
We are excelling in our worthwhile pursuits and creating lasting change that will advance Old Dominion University beyond our wildest dreams and define “Monarch Momentum” for generations to come!
As we boldly and proudly continue our pursuits, together, we will blaze an unrecognizable trail as a true pioneer in education, research, and service.
As the Old Dominion University of today, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and in preparation for those who will follow us, which reflects our mission and our work as an educational institution.
Our purpose is carried forward by our students and our alumni across our state, nation, and world.
With 22,515 Monarchs, our student body is finding their passions and exploring new worlds that they never knew existed!
Our alumni of nearly 170,000 strong are excelling as business leaders, chemists, cyber warriors, engineers, healthcare providers, teachers, social workers, and performers – just to name a few!
Our alumni are living out their dreams and making their mark on the big screen, the small screen, the hardwood, the diamond, the gridiron, the pitch, and even in space.
But, more importantly, each of them is serving as a strong citizen leader in living the Monarch values of care, concern, and civility.
As a global network of passionate and proud Monarch alumni, we are in classrooms teaching the next generation; we are in boardrooms creating policies and making decisions to ensure a bright and prosperous future; and we are in doctor’s offices, operating rooms, and laboratories providing care and cures for those in need.
We are proud members of a caring community like no other.
Together, we are relentless in serving others.
And, we are unstoppable in our efforts now and well into the future!
At Old Dominion University, we are thought leaders; we are talented; we are tenacious; we are tireless; we are trusted; and we are trailblazers.
Thank you, and GO MONARCHS!