Special Feature
Donna Koch:
Old Dominion got an equal partner in its latest first lady

Working diligently behind the scenes throughout the Koch presidency was Donna Koch.

When the university hired her husband 11 years ago as its CEO, it actually got an experienced team in the bargain. As the former first lady at the University of Montana, Donna Koch knew the role well. And, like her husband, she has left her mark at Old Dominion.

In addition to managing and co-hosting countless social functions and dinners at the President's House, she co-founded the Friends of the Library organization, serving as both a board member and chair of its Program Committee.

She was an active member of Town-N-Gown, the Faculty Wives and Friends group, and the Lady Monarch Pride. She attended numerous campus events, including concerts, lectures, social activities and annual occasions like Founders' Day, and was even in the stands cheering at the men's and women's home basketball games.


"She was completely committed to the university community and its welfare," said Ellie Costulis, administrative assistant to the president. "She was equally an advocate of this university as President Koch."

Costulis, who worked closely with the first lady on many events in recent years, said she quickly came to appreciate her "unbelievable time management skills."

Indeed, for all that she did, time management was essential. In addition to her heavy involvement in university functions, Koch somehow managed to pursue a few of her own interests.

Throughout the 1990s she taught English and American history part time at Tidewater Community College, and for the past two years served as assistant to TCC President Deborah DiCroce. Koch also returned to school at Old Dominion to pursue a second master's degree, in history, which she received this spring.

In the community, she was active in the First Lutheran Church, was a member of three local book clubs, and served as a board member of The Dwelling Place, an emergency shelter for homeless families.

No one more than her husband knew or valued all that she did, both in the community and on behalf of Old Dominion University.

"If times had been different when she was growing up, she easily could have become a college president herself," he said. "When she's gone, people will begin to understand all the things that she has done for Old Dominion."

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