With mobilizing the alumni base to get involved as its top priority this year, the Alumni Association couldn’t have chosen a more enthusiastic president to lead the charge than Mike Fowler ’94 (M.B.A. ’04). He has a genuine interest in supporting his alma mater and great pride in all that it has become.
“Old Dominion University is a relatively young institution. However, we have reached an age of maturity where a multitude of things are converging that will set the stage for tremendous strides,” Fowler said.
“We now have approximately 114,000 living alumni. We have the ability to support the university like never before in terms of money or volunteerism. We have a tremendous leader in President John Broderick. He has a very bold vision and the ability to see it through with the right support.”
Fowler is quick to offer ideas on how former students can become re-engaged with ODU, but at the same time he notes that it’s not a one-way street. By becoming involved in areas that interest them, alumni also benefit from the experience.
“I think that supporting ODU’s administration is best done through learning more about legislative advocacy, giving back in terms of money or volunteerism where possible, and getting involved via the numerous academic, athletic or cultural events held on campus. There is definitely something for everyone. All it takes is a visit to our website or calling the alumni office.”
Fowler said he joined the Alumni Association board in 2007 to learn “from all angles” what the university does to fulfill its mission and “to give something back to the institution and the college community that had given me so much.
“Both of my degrees were earned at ODU. I met my wife, Stephanie, while we were in undergraduate school. I have many fond memories of establishing great friendships and working at the 4400 Campus Club. Lastly, I have enjoyed so many good experiences going to athletic events, being involved with the Big Blue Club and meeting new friends.”
Fowler takes great pride in the progress ODU has made since his student days. He points to the increasing SAT scores of freshmen, nationally recognized faculty, new residence halls, the President’s Lecture Series, and the growth of cultural events and venues, such as the Diehn Concert Series and the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries. He’s also excited to see what new athletic director Wood Selig has planned to build on the “incredible surge of interest” in an athletic program that last year saw football return to campus and the men’s basketball team play in the NCAA tournament. Fowler realizes there is more to be done, however, and he believes an involved alumni base can help. He offers these suggestions:
• Join or start a chapter, recruit a student to the university, mentor an ODU student, or share job or internship opportunities at your place of employment.
• Become a legislative advocate for ODU, which is significantly underfunded when compared to peer universities in Virginia. “This is true even though we have done our job in educating more Virginians (as a percentage of our current student body) than any other state school, and kept our tuition rates low. If you are an ODU alumnus, this ought to make you concerned.”
• Help support student scholarships and alumni programs by making our fundraisers, such as the fall Alumni Awards Dinner and spring golf tournament, more profitable.
Fowler credits Dana Allen, assistant vice president for alumni relations, along with her staff and the university administration for their support of the Alumni Association, and is counting on continued support from ODU’s growing cadre of graduates.
“I hope my fellow alumni will join me in giving back to ODU and having fun doing it,” he said.
Michael J. Fowler ’94
Degrees: B.S. in business administration, M.B.A. in finance
City: Norfolk (proud Ghent resident)
Occupation: Financial adviser and Certified Financial Planner, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
ODU Student Activities: Member of Theta Chi fraternity, Interfraternity Council representative
Community Activities: South Hampton Roads YMCA youth athletics coach, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk division, chair elect