Runte accepts presidency at Ottawa’s Carleton University
Will continue tenure here through June
Old Dominion University President Roseann Runte has announced that she plans to step down July 1, 2008, to accept the position of president at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Runte succeeded James V. Koch as Old Dominion’s seventh president in July 2001.

“I wish to thank so many people for the privilege of serving this fine university, which is definitely positioned on a trajectory toward continued success,” Runte said in a note to the campus community. “I am proud of all we have achieved together. Seven years of dreams and accomplishments have flown by at the speed of light.”

“The Board of Visitors is most appreciative of all that Dr. Roseann Runte has achieved and accomplished, and grateful for the tireless efforts she has put forth during her nearly seven years as president of Old Dominion, said Rector Marc Jacobson. “Under her leadership, the university has made great strides in every area imaginable. She has helped raise the profile of Old Dominion as a respected academic and research institution.

“We couldn’t have asked for more. And while we are saddened to see her go, we know that she is leaving behind a university that is well positioned to continue the remarkable progress that has been made, and we wish her well as she embarks on her own new journey,” Jacobson added.

Jacobson said the board will appoint a Presidential Search Committee soon, to include Board of Visitors members and representatives from the faculty, staff and alumni. The search committee will select a consulting firm to aid in the process of finding a new leader for Old Dominion, but the final decision on a successor to Runte will be the responsibility of the Board of Visitors, Jacobson said.

Runte came to Old Dominion having previously served as president of Victoria University, principal of Glendon College and president of l'Université Sainte-Anne, all in Canada. She is the first woman to hold ODU’s top office.

During her tenure, Runte has been credited with achievements on many fronts, from enrollment and campus expansion to legislative relations and fundraising. A capital campaign she put in place has exceeded its $100 million goal. She directed a tremendous period of growth in new campus facilities, valued at more than $100 million, and set in motion a plan for the university to pursue and achieve Top 100 status as a public research university.

She also led a significant effort in academic affairs where both undergraduate and graduate programs have flourished. ODU’s research portfolio and reputation grew through her support that brought needed funding to interdisciplinary areas including bioelectrics and modeling and simulation, which has made an enormous contribution to the local economy.

Through all her tireless efforts in administration, Runte has remained faithful to her love of students and the classroom, teaching at least one course each year. In addition, she has continued to write academic, creative and editorial pieces.

She has served on numerous boards and commissions including UNESCO, the Club of Rome, the National Bank of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Foundation for International Training, EXPO 2000 and the Southern Commission on Colleges. She is president of the American Council of Education’s Commission on International Education and a member of the International Parliament of Cultures.

President Runte has been awarded the Order of Canada, the French Order of Merit, fellowship in the Royal Society, a prize from the French Academy and a number of honorary degrees. Back to top

Worcester’s Carol Simpson named provost
Carol Simpson, formerly vice president and provost at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., became Old Dominion’s provost and vice president for academic affairs on Jan. 7. Her appointment was announced Dec. 17 by President Roseann Runte.

Simpson was selected following a nationwide search. John R. Broderick, vice president for institutional advancement and chief of staff, who chaired the search committee, said more than 85 applications were reviewed by the 18-member committee, which resulted in four candidates interviewing on campus late last year.

Runte said Simpson has a remarkable record as an administrator, researcher and teacher.

“Carol Simpson understands firsthand the balance it takes to be a superb faculty member and researcher,’’ Runte noted. “She brings significant experience to Old Dominion not only from her work in higher education, but also from her involvement as a program director for the National Science Foundation.”

Simpson comes to Old Dominion with more than 15 years’ administrative experience. She held her latest position at Worcester Polytechnic Institute since 2005, and served as associate provost for research and graduate education at Boston University from 1999 to 2005. She also has more than four years’ experience as a program officer with the National Science Foundation, overseeing a $7 million budget.

As a faculty member, Simpson served as professor and chair of the earth sciences department at Boston University, associate professor at both Johns Hopkins University and Virginia Tech, and visiting assistant professor at Oklahoma State University and Brown University.

An expert in structural geology and tectonics, she has authored more than 50 refereed publications and more than 80 professional conference papers. Simpson’s honors include a Best Paper Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA), selection as a member of the AURA U.S. National Solar Observatory oversight panel, and election as a fellow and councilor of the GSA.

She received a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Wales, a master’s in geology from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and a doctorate in structural geology from ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Simpson succeeds Thomas L. Isenhour, who served as provost the past five years. Back to top

Proposed bond package includes $87.2 million for ODU
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced on Dec. 13 a proposed $1.65 billion bond package for higher education needs in Virginia. If approved, Old Dominion will receive $87.2 million for construction and renovation projects to support the expansion of research initiatives.

“The proposed bond package supports innovative research, providing facilities across Virginia for researchers to develop new, cutting-edge technologies and turn them into commercial assets,” Kaine said. “Our colleges and universities also help us build a workforce prepared to compete in a global economy.”

The new construction and renovation projects in the package primarily focus on supporting workforce development initiatives, retaining students, supporting research and providing modern facilities for areas with demonstrated needs, such as education, engineering, nursing, business and the sciences. The proposed package is composed of funding through a General Obligation Bond and through the Virginia College Building Authority. The General Obligation Bond must be passed by the General Assembly and requires approval by voters in a general referendum on Election Day in November.

President Roseann Runte praised Gov. Kaine’s efforts. “We are grateful to him for recognizing the needs of our students and faculty and for assuming such a strong leadership role in moving to obtain the necessary capital projects to support the colleges and universities in Virginia,” she said.

The proposed bond package allocations for ODU include financing for six capital projects: construction of a Student Success Center; construction of a consolidated arts complex for the visual arts, studio arts and Stables Theatre; construction of a systems research and academic building; renovation and construction of child development centers on the Norfolk campus and at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center; renovation of the Education Building; and renovations to Spong Hall and Rollins Hall. Back to top

University shares in maglev award
Old Dominion and its magnetic levitation engineering research team will work on a $7.9 million project with MagneMotion Inc. (MMI), a Massachusetts firm, to explore maglev-based transportation systems for the Federal Transit Administration.

The project is part of the FTA Urban Maglev Program, which is designed to create transportation systems similar to existing monorails, but with vehicles that are levitated and propelled by electromagnetism.

MMI was one of five competitively selected grantees originally tapped by the FTA to perform studies and develop technical approaches to urban maglev transportation systems. After it completed a successful proof-of-concept phase, the company was asked to submit a development proposal, which has now been funded. The new project will be led by MMI and will utilize the company’s expertise and patented technology, as well as the expertise of ODU engineers and the campus maglev infrastructure.

“This effort gives us at ODU a wonderful opportunity to enhance our efforts to develop affordable Maglev systems by combining our assets with those of MagneMotion,” said Jeremiah F. Creedon, ODU director of transportation research.

About $6.3 million in funding was awarded by the FTA for the first two phases of the project, more than $700,000 of which will go to ODU. Cost sharing by the grantees, largely in the form of the existing infrastructure contributions, will bring the project total to $7.9 million.

By the end of the 18-month first phase, the system will have been designed and analyzed, and a prototype constructed and validated at a 170-foot test site on or near MMI’s facilities in Acton, Mass.

Assuming success at the end of the first stage, the second stage will include installation and test of a 500-foot prototype system using a portion of an elevated maglev guideway which was installed on the ODU campus in 2002 as part of an unrelated maglev development effort. Long-range plans call for an operational system at ODU. Back to top

Proposals due soon for Staff Dream Fund Award
Proposals for the first ODU Staff Dream Fund Awards program are due Monday, Feb. 4.

Established by President Roseann Runte, the awards will go to deserving employees to help them realize a long-held dream. Up to two awards will be made in the first year of the program.

The award consists of $2,000 to $4,000 and five days of paid time off for each winner to fulfill his or her dream – for example, pursuing studies in an area unrelated to work, traveling to another country or visiting family far away. The awards are not intended to address personal hardship situations, emergencies or job-related professional development.

Full-time classified employees and administrative and professional faculty with five years of continuous full-time employment are eligible. For more information about the award or how to submit a proposal contact Kathy Williamson at or 683-4564. Back to top

Campus raises $140,000 in recent CVC fund drive
The campus community once again exceeded its Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign goal, raising more than $140,000 for local, regional, national and international charitable organizations, including area United Way agencies.

Pledges through Jan. 2 totaled $140,423, or 8 percent above the $130,000 goal.

“I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this worthwhile campaign. Through our collective efforts, we are helping to meet the needs of those less fortunate who rely on the support of charitable organizations and agencies,” said Karen Travis, assistant vice president for institutional advancement, who headed the campaign for the second straight year.

The following campus divisions exceeded their goals:

  • President’s area, consisting of the equal opportunity/affirmative action, university counsel and president’s offices;
  • Institutional advancement;
  • Academic affairs central, consisting of the following areas: academic affairs/consortium, career management, distance learning, higher education centers, international programs, library, registrar and University College;
  • Development office;
  • College of Sciences; and
  • Darden College of Education.
  • Institutional advancement recorded the highest participation rate by far (74 percent), followed by the development office (52 percent), the Darden College of Education (49 percent) and the College of Health Sciences (46 percent).

Overall, 837 members of the campus community participated, for a rate of 38.6 percent; the average gift was $167.91. Back to top

CLT’s Blackboard Olympics scheduled for Jan. 22-24
The Center for Learning Technologies announces three marathon events in its January Blackboard Olympics. Faculty and teaching assistants are invited to participate in one or all of the events, to fine-tune their use of Blackboard as a teaching and learning tool. All will take place in room 411 of the Gornto TELETECHNET Center.

  • Jan. 22 – Blackboard Assessment: Traditional and Alternate Methods
  • 8:30-10 a.m. – Blackboard Essentials
    10:15-11:30 a.m. – Understanding the Differences Between Traditional Assessments (quizzes, tests, exams) and Alternate Methods (projects, activities, group work, etc.) and When to Use Them
  • 1-3 p.m. – Using Blackboard Test Manager and Respondus
  • 3:15-4:30 p.m. – Using Questionmark.

Jan. 23 – Blackboard Content: Managing Course Content

  • 8:30-10 a.m. – Blackboard Essentials
  • 10:15-11:30 a.m. – Understanding the Differences Between Local Content, Content Collection and iTunes U, and When to Use Them
    1-3 p.m. – Using Local Content and Content Collection
  • 3:15-4:30 p.m. – Using iTunes U for Podcasting.

Jan. 24 – Blackboard Collaboration: Tools for Student Engagement

  • 8:30-10 a.m. – Blackboard Essentials
  • 10:15-11:30 a.m. – Understanding the Differences Between Threaded Discussion, Chat, Virtual Classroom and Adobe Connect Online Meetings, and When to Use Them
  • 1-3 p.m. – Using Blackboard Discussion, Chat and Virtual Classroom
  • 3:15-4:30 p.m. – Using Adobe Connect Online Meetings.

Faculty and TAs can register for the day and attend the sessions they need. To register visit E-mail or call Susan Boze at 683-3172 or Julie Moustafa at 683-6485 for more information. Back to top

Friends of Women’s Studies dinner honors composers
Cabaret 2008, the Friends of Women’s Studies’ annual dinner, is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19. It will feature Virginia Opera artist Genevieve Després and local favorite Lisa Coston, with accompanist Bobbie Kesler Corletto, who will perform selections by women composers, from Hildegard von Bingen to Bessie Smith.

The dinner, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Ted Constant Convocation Center, will be preceded by a social hour at 6 p.m.

For more information or reservations contact the women’s studies department at 683-3823 or Back to top

Program on “Carl Sandburg and Segovia’s Guitar” is Jan. 25
“Carl Sandburg and Segovia’s Guitar” is the musical program for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures’ 14th Cultural Matinee at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25.

It will feature a concert by John Akers in the Batten Arts and Letters Building auditorium. In addition to the performance of Sandburg’s best-loved guitar music, the program will include the poet’s guitar-inspired writings and a narrative about his love of the instrument.

Akers is a featured performer at the Carl Sandburg Home, National Historic Site, in Flat Rock, N.C., and the Sandburg Home in Galesburg, Ill. Back to top

Prof publishes article in Harvard Business Review
An article by Shaomin Li in the December issue of the prestigious Harvard Business Review, “Mao’s Pervasive Influence on Chinese CEOs,” explores the influence the late Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong continues to have on the professional tactics employed by top Chinese business leaders.

Li, professor of management, and his co-authors, Kuang S. Yeh, of National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan and Garry D. Bruton of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, studied high-level business executives in China who utilize management tactics that emulate the methods used by Chairman Mao to consolidate his power, subjugate his subordinates and maintain the support of the public. Back to top

Faculty, student teams win global knowledge event
Competing against five other colleges and universities, Old Dominion faculty and student teams took first place in the annual WorldQuest competition. It was the eighth consecutive year that the ODU faculty team won first place and the second consecutive year for the student team.

The competition, held Nov. 15 at the Chesapeake Conference Center, tests international knowledge in such categories as faces and places in the news, geography, current events and culture.

This ODU faculty team included Michael Philson, executive director of international programs; Chris Drake, professor of geography; Tim Kidd, instructor of geography; Fran Hassencahl, assistant professor of communication and theatre arts; Maria Fornella-Oehninger, lecturer of political science and geography; Tim Nevin, visiting professor of history; Corliss Tacosa, adjunct assistant professor of political science; and Bruce Seifert, professor of finance.

The student team included Alexander Palmer, Raquel Fratta, Tatiana Slepen’kaya, James Lomax, Bethany Metzgar, Julia Campbell, Evan Campbell and Cody Zimmerman. Back to top

Speakers urge grads to protect freedom
Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and award-winning author M.G. Vassanji addressed more than 1,000 graduates during Old Dominion’s 107th commencement ceremonies Dec. 15 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. They spoke of challenges, opportunities and responsibilities the graduates now face.

Snow, who spoke at the morning ceremony to graduates of the colleges of Engineering and Technology, Education and Sciences, urged graduates to keep learning “because in the great game of life, the unexpected is the rule, not the exception.

“The point is, you are headed into the great unknowable – a life defined, enriched, decorated and upended by surprise,” he said. “It is a time of inexpressible excitement and promise.”

Snow talked about the American character, both good and bad, and noted that graduates will face serious questions about God and country that lie at the heart of their life and times.

“You will receive the challenge each American generation hands to the next – the duty to keep freedom’s flame bright, and to serve as a force for decency and not bare-knuckled power. ... The moral: don’t diss the United States. Appreciate it. Refine it. Improve it. But don’t mess with the basic ingredient – freedom.”

He counseled graduates to acquire discernment, moral knowledge and patience to distinguish between good arguments and bad ones, good practices and bad ones, and truth and falsehood

“Take pride in this day, but realize that this is just the beginning. The best and most exciting days lie ahead, as do those filled with fear and dread,” he noted. “The two go hand-in-hand. But the journey will strengthen you. It will forge your character. It will define you.”

Award-winning novelist and editor M.G. Vassanji spoke during the afternoon ceremony to graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business and Public Administration and Health Sciences, and received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

The Kenyan-born Vassanji, who emigrated to Canada and later studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told graduates how he discovered the idea of freedom in college.

“Not the freedom from a dictatorship, which is easy to understand. ... But the freedom I discovered was to be and say what you want; to define yourself. To believe that what you thought mattered, and you should therefore express yourself. ... All this came about through a single act of generosity by an American university system abetted by kindness from individuals.”

Vassanji noted that the world has changed, having become less secure and more dangerous. “Our moral principles and our freedoms are under stress, and we are not sure what is quite right.”

He encouraged the graduates to “set an example to the world and make it more peaceful.” Back to top

Hughes renamed Dragas Hall
Board also approves two new doctoral programs
The board of Visitors voted that Hughes Hall be renamed Dragas Hall and approved two doctoral programs on Dec. 7.

Hughes Hall was renamed in advance of the recent demolition of Dragas International Center, which was in the area of the Foreman Field renovation project, and in honor of former Rector George Dragas Jr. and his brother Marcus G. Dragas for their significant support of Old Dominion.

The proposed Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree follows a mandate from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing that all advanced nursing practice programs (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and nurse anesthesia) move from the master’s level to the DNP level by 2015.

The proposed Doctor of Engineering degree is designed to meet the educational needs of practicing engineers who seek terminal degrees to prepare for high-level engineering and leadership positions.

In other matters the board approved:

  • A new policy on tenure-track positions funded by research centers, which contains principles to guide the appointment of these positions and establishes communication between the director of the research center and the chair of the academic department;
  • Revisions to the policy on tenure, which adds information on when the selection of potential external reviewers must occur and addresses the addition of documentation to a faculty member’s portfolio for tenure; and
  • A revision to the policy on academic rank and promotion in rank, which addresses the addition of documentation to a faculty member’s portfolio for promotion.

The board approved the title of emeritus for Abdel Agami, professor of accounting. Back to top

Black History Month
Multicultural Student Services is assembling a full calendar of Black History Month events, which can be viewed at

Scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, is the presentation of a previous broadcast, “BET’s Hip Hop V. America,” which features a discussion of the effects of hip-hop on the African American community, and society’s views of black culture, the N-word and more. It will be in the Cape Henry Room of Webb Center. Back to top

Economic Outlook Conference set for 23rd

Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of, will be the featured speaker for Old Dominion’s Annual Economic Outlook Conference on Wednesday, Jan. 23, part of the Economics Club of Hampton Roads series.

Co-sponsored by the College of Business and Public Administration and Towne Bank, Zandi's presentation will begin at noon at the Norfolk Marriott Waterside Hotel. The cost of the luncheon and presentation is $30 for nonmembers. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 683-4058.

Zandi, whose research interests include macroeconomics, as well as financial, industrial and regional economics, is responsible for’s forecasts, model development and consulting practice.

His recent work includes studies of the determinants of personal bankruptcy and the impact of globalization and technological changes on real estate markets.

In addition to the afternoon presentation, the regional economic forecast will be presented at 10:45 a.m. by ODU professors Vinod Agarwal, Mohammad Najand and Gil Yochum, who comprise the university’s Economic Forecast Team. The regional forecast is free and open to the public. Back to top

Nine nominated for Va. Outstanding Faculty Awards
Nine Old Dominion faculty members were nominated for the 2008 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards program. Administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and funded by a grant from the Dominion Foundation, the program will select statewide winners for awards of $5,000 each. The recipients will be announced early next month. ODU honored its nominees at a luncheon on Dec. 6 and awarded each of them an account of $500 to support their scholarship.

The following are excerpts from the nominees’ personal statements, which were part of the nomination materials.

Bridget L. Anderson
Assistant Professor

While taking a History of the English Language class at Western Carolina University, I made the startling discovery that some of the elements of my great-grandparents’ speech were actually relic forms dating back to Old English. Moreover, I learned that there was an official-sounding name for our way of talking – Appalachian English – and that it was studied by linguists and anthropologists (my people had always just referred to our speech as “talking mountain”). I interviewed members of four generations of my family and provided a grammatical analysis of the data for a paper which I presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. My undergraduate professors changed the trajectory of my professional life by encouraging me in these early stages of linguistic scholarship. By age 20, I had formed a very clear vision of myself as a linguist who would focus her scholarship on the social meaning of the sounds of vernacular varieties of American English.

Janet M. Bing
University Professor

I had always been interested in language and communication and had studied English literature both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. I assumed that I would become either a writer or a musician. However, while I was in graduate school, a classmate and I decided to drive to Mexico during spring break. I took along only my guitar, my portable typewriter, a bathing suit, and a change of underwear. On the trip, I uncovered a lifelong passion to learn all that I could about other cultures. So I volunteered with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to work in international work camps in France and Morocco. During my free time, on the advice of the AFSC, I hitchhiked through France and Spain with another volunteer (still with my trusty guitar and typewriter); this was quite an adventure for a young woman from rural Iowa.

Shaomin Li
Business Management

I grew up in China, at a time when Mao closed all the universities. ... When Mao died in 1976, the universities reopened. With only three years of formal school, I taught myself and was admitted to Peking University. My quest for knowledge and truth led me to study political economy, without realizing it would become a dangerous profession. This quest eventually led me to tackle one of the most important questions facing contemporary political and economic leaders: Why do countries with similar endowments and culture take drastically different paths of political and economic development, resulting in some becoming affluent and free while others are suffering through corruption and poverty? My study landed me in jail in a country that does not practice the rule of law – the very subject of my research. Five months later, under strong condemnation from the international community, I was freed. This ordeal prompted me to leave Hong Kong and return to my adopted country, the United States.

Edward S. Neukrug

Both counseling and teaching excite me, and for many years I did both, but my final calling was to academia. Eventually, I gave up my clinical practice and went full force into the academic life. And this is where I have stayed – loving (almost) every minute of it. Yes, I’ve thought of changing careers at times. Doesn’t everybody? As Bob Dylan said, “Maybe I could have been a doctor and saved some lives that were lost.” Or maybe a lawyer and fight corruption. Or maybe an engineer and follow in my father’s footsteps in construction. But, my core, the center of my being is in academia. After 30 years of teaching I am still enthralled by what I do. In fact, driving home the other day after teaching two three-hour courses, back to back, I could feel the smile on my face as I said to myself, “This is a great job.” Why is it so great? Because I impart knowledge, and if I do it well, I see it in my students’ faces. I can see them change.

Stacey B. Plichta
Community Health Professions

I truly believe that training health services researchers is a sacred trust. We produce researchers, policy makers, and stakeholders who will take part in deciding how and to whom health care is delivered in the United States and abroad. These scholars, once they graduate, become the health policy leaders and producers of new knowledge. I specialize in teaching mid-career professionals the art and science of health services research. Many of my students are in positions in which they make decisions that affect the health of hundreds, and even thousands, of others. However, for many of them, the fear of science and math is a barrier to understanding health services research. In order to help them overcome these fears, I engage them with student-centered learning techniques from the moment they enter our program at Old Dominion. I work hard to make the math accessible and keep them active participants in their own education.

Donald H. Smith
Associate Professor
Sociology and Criminal Justice

A diverse group of students enrolls in the online criminal justice courses: a combination of place- and time-bound students, single parents, veteran police officers, active-duty military (often in Iraq or Qatar) and traditional-aged students. They are persons who previously had to find day care or to travel to class after a full workday, and they could take, at most, only one or two classes per semester. ... This diverse population creates an environment where our 20-22-year-old students can interact with experienced law enforcement personnel and can learn from them. Course discussion boards are filled with exchanges on the “how and why” of the material that cast the topics being studied against the backdrop of real-world experience, with each group gaining from the exchange. Learners become teachers by sharing experiences interactively, and that expands course content and allows class members access to the professional expertise of their fellow students.

Wayne K. Talley
Professor and Eminent Scholar

My transportation and maritime experiences form the basis for class discussion, thereby providing insights from personal experiences into concepts that are not found in the course reading material. For example, a maritime student from Korea asked if he could accompany me recently when I delivered a series of maritime lectures in Korea. His presence was of significant benefit since he organized the presentations, interpreted the language and clarified the differences between American and Korean cultures for me that enhanced the ability of my audiences to better understand my messages on port development and management and transportation. This experience taught me once again about the critical role of communication and organization that I first learned in high school, but also reinforced the importance of culture and language when working with people, albeit professionals, in another country.

Lawrence B. Weinstein
University Professor

Much of my research involves how protons and neutrons behave in the nucleus of the atom. ... Research at Jefferson Lab involves many skills and activities. I spend time thinking about physics and how to measure things; I analyze data on computers; I interpret results; I design and build huge particle detectors. I wear a hard hat, steel-toed shoes, and safety harness turning a large wrench high above the ground installing detectors. The variety makes life interesting. As a professor, I also delight in teaching at all scales, from the individual to the classroom and from the lecture hall to the printed word. Whereas research involves communicating newly discovered facts to peers, teaching involves communicating previously known facts to students. The research audience already appreciates the joy of discovery and the delights of understanding the world around us; students can be introduced to these joys and delights. Teaching allows me to communicate the love of learning to others.

G. Richard Whittecar
University Professor
Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Is teaching the dominant pillar defining my professorship? Perhaps, but I see the mix of teaching, discovery, integration of knowledge and service in my life akin to the swirl in a loaf of marble rye bread. It is virtually impossible to separate these components. Much of the time these four aspects of my work occur in roughly equal proportions. My love for the environment feeds my curiosity into how surface processes have evolved throughout Earth’s deep time. Teaching has become the tool for sharing my discoveries. I know how profoundly an understanding of these topics can transform a person’s perception of their role in the world, being both a fleeting spark on the timeline of history and a persistent driver of degradation on existing ecosystems. Thus my concern for the lives of my students drives me to challenge them to examine the ways they interact with the surrounding environment, and to continually search for new and more effective courses and educational techniques to deliver that perspective. Back to top

Nun from Zimbabwe finds friendship and knowledge on Old Dominion campus – again

Twice now, Old Dominion University has served as a place of refuge and learning for Sister Agatha Munyanyi from Zimbabwe.

Three decades ago, she spent several years on the Norfolk campus studying medical technology and getting a master’s degree in clinical chemistry. She had come to the United States as a young novice to avoid the revolutionary upheaval that eventually brought independence from Great Britain – and the new name of Zimbabwe – to her native Rhodesia.

This fall, after intervening years of working in medical laboratories and training technicians in her country, she returned to ODU to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. She believes the program will better prepare her to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is worse in Zimbabwe than anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conditions overall in her country currently are bleak and sometimes dangerous, she says, and her Sisters of the Child Jesus congregation suggested that this would be a good time for her to continue her education in the United States.

“Politicians have messed up again. I am coming from a Zimbabwe suffering from economic hardships. Inflation is at 4,000 percent. When I returned to Zimbabwe in 1981 I was just in time for reconstruction after the civil war. When I go back this time, I will be involved in another kind of reconstruction,” she says.

Sister Agatha, wearing a gray habit and white veil, turns heads as she moves about the Alfriend Chemistry Building to teach undergraduate classes or advise students. But she is rapidly settling in. Her ever-ready smile and soft voice, together with her reputation as a hardworking chemist, have won her dozens of friends since she arrived late in the summer.

One of her biggest champions is Patricia Pleban, associate professor and assistant chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Pleban was new to the ODU faculty in 1979 and accepted Sister Agatha as her first master’s student. “She was an excellent student and you could always count on her being there, even on weekends and holidays, unless it was a religious holiday,” Pleban says. “She was, I can say, a moderating force on other students.”

Sister Agatha contacted Pleban in the spring of 2006 to inquire about returning to ODU to enter a Ph.D. program. But Pleban is more involved now in teaching and administrative work than in research, and could not serve as a doctoral adviser. She recommended Sister Agatha to another faculty member, Lesley Greene, an assistant professor who joined ODU in 2006, and whose research interests are similar to those of Sister Agatha.

That match has worked out well, in all sorts of ways.

Greene, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Miami, is something of a globetrotter herself, having done research and been affiliated with academic institutions in Germany, Israel and England. “I had spent seven years in England before I came to ODU, and I remembered how hard it is to get settled, even if you have family and friends in the U.S.,” she says.

So Greene worked with her graduate students and others such as Alicia Herr, the chemistry department manager, to make Sister Agatha feel at home in Norfolk. One of Greene’s graduate students, Hai Li from China, took it upon himself to canvass neighborhoods near campus, and he found a good home for the Catholic nun. It is a house shared by three other female ODU graduate students, each of whom is devout, one being Hindu and from Nepal and the other two Muslim from Bangladesh. “These women were looking for a roommate. They didn’t want anybody who would smoke and drink and party, and that’s what they got in Sister Agatha,” Greene says.

“We are mature women and religious people, so our home is the ideal place for us to focus on our studies,” Sister Agatha adds. One of the roommates, Trisha Ahmed, studies computer engineering and has been able to help her new Catholic friend master computational chores. “She keeps telling me, ‘Sister, don’t worry. I’ll show you how.’”

Pleban and Herr have taken the lead in finding or donating necessities like home furnishings, cooking utensils and linens. On a recent chilly November afternoon, Sister Agatha was wearing a brightly colored ski sweater over her habit. “All of my clothes were light. When the weather turned cold I was freezing, and Professor Pleban brought this in,” she said, rubbing the sweater’s sleeve.

What she needs most now is transportation. Although she does drive – “I learned the first time I was here” – she cannot afford a car on the modest pay she receives as a teaching assistant. She has to depend on volunteers to drive her to church or to the grocery store.

“There’s no way anyone in my country could send me money,” Sister Agatha points out. “With the inflation, they’d have to send a roomful of money for it to be worth anything here.”

The little bit of money she brought with her from Zimbabwe took a hit immediately upon her arrival in the United States. She was caught up in a dispute between two airlines and ended up spending more than 48 hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport before she could negotiate her way onto a plane to Norfolk.

“They said they required $300 for a new ticket to Norfolk and I kept telling them I did not have that money. I was saying to myself, ‘Dear Lord, what have I done, coming to America!’ When I finally got to Norfolk, I saw a woman with open arms in the airport and I just ran into them. It was Alicia (Herr), although I didn’t know her then. All I saw was open arms and that is what I needed.”

Greene says that Sister Agatha is writing a research proposal that will have her focus over the next four years on the genesis of Parkinson’s disease, work that will “try to decipher the second half of the genetic code.” For her first semester, the new Ph.D. student also has her hands full with teaching and preparing an application for a scholarship that could help her with expenses. She will get some extra funding during the first six months of 2008 from a multidisciplinary seed grant that Greene received in November from the ODU Office of Research.

“The training that she will get here is fundamental training that is very good, in that it carries over into many areas of biochemistry, into cloning, making proteins and characterizing proteins,” Greene says.

If all goes as she plans, Sister Agatha will be 58 when she returns to Zimbabwe in 2011 as Agatha Munyanyi, Ph.D. She says she looks forward to the challenge, although there is no way for her to know whether longtime head of state Robert Mugabe will still be in power, or if political and economic unrest will have settled.

“I definitely will go back. I want to teach in medical school, teach medical technologists, clinical chemistry and biochemistry. And I want to be involved in research, such as HIV/AIDS research, and especially research work that encourages other women into the field. When they see a Catholic nun doing medical research they say, ‘If a nun can do it, I can do it, too.’’’

“I’m sure she is a role model for women, and what she learns here will advance her country, tremendously,” says Greene. Back to top

Acclaimed poet Nikky Finney to deliver MLK lecture Jan. 22
Nikky Finney, renowned poet and author of the critically acclaimed book of poetry “The World Is Round” and the poignant poem “Brown Country,” will deliver Old Dominion’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Hampton/Newport News Room of Webb Center.

A native of Conway, S.C., Finney is a professor creative writing at the University of Kentucky and is serving as the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., during the 2007-08 academic year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Talladega College in Alabama.

In one of her most well-known poems, “Brown Country,” Finney expresses her love of country music, but also her ambivalence about keeping quiet about it. She writes: “How do you explain being African/and loving country.” She sums up her internal war in the last few lines of the poem: “Country music is historical/This is the music we were lynched by/These are the hangman’s songs.”

Finney published her first book of poems, “On Wings of Gauze,” in 1985. “Rice,” a collection of stories, poems and photographs, was published in 1995. Her acclaimed poetry collection, “The World is Round,” was published in 2003 and won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry the following year. She is editor of the anthology “The Ringing Ear,” a contemporary collection of poems by 100 African American writers. It was published in 2007 by the University of Georgia Press.

After arriving at the University of Kentucky, Finney met fellow poet Frank X. Walker, who helped her create a workshop for black writers. Walker named the group the “Affrilachian Poets,” after looking up the term “Appalachian” in a 1988 encyclopedia and discovering that the word was defined as “white residents of mountain regions.” “Affrilachian” is a fusion of the words African American and Appalachian, a term that describes black residents from Appalachia, a region of the United States that extends from southern New York state to northern Mississippi. Back to top

King Award goes to local resident Ulysses Turner
Old Dominion will present its 21st Martin Luther King Jr. Award on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to Ulysses Turner of Norfolk. He will be honored during an invitation-only dinner.

Since 1987, Turner has been the owner of Atlantic Apartment Rentals/Development Co. in Norfolk, an enterprise engaged in land acquisition, spot demolition and the development of modern houses and apartment buildings in various areas of the city.

He serves on the board of the Old Dominion Community Development Corp., the board of Towne Bank and the ODU Education Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and a member of 200+ Men. Back to top

Customer Relations Award presented to Frankie Lopez
Frankie Lopez, a grounds worker for Facilities Management, received the 2007 Customer Relations Employee of the Year award at the Department of Human Resources’ Annual Recognition Program on Dec. 11.

Although he has worked at Old Dominion less than two years, he has already made an impact on his colleagues and on other members of the campus community with whom he comes in contact.

Grounds supervisor Chad Peevy, who supervises the department Lopez works for, describes him as honest, reliable, genuine, friendly and polite. Calling him an “ambassador for the grounds department,” Peevy has been impressed by Lopez’s friendliness.

“He greets people walking by with his friendly smile, a friendly hello, and they are drawn to him. I have witnessed Frankie wishing ‘good lucks’ to students he knows and I have seen him talk to faculty members about how nice the campus is looking.

“I know of three instances where Frankie has witnessed personal injuries on campus and provided assistance to those involved.”

Lopez’s positive attitude has also rubbed off on his co-workers on the turfgrass maintenance crew, Peevy said, resulting in more camaraderie and a more positive attitude toward the job at hand.

According to Peevy, Lopez recently requested that he take out equipment to pick up litter during those times when his work requires him to wait on others before he can finish his assigned tasks.

“I would not have thought of my grounds staff as having much opportunity to communicate with our customers,” Peevy said. “They carry loud equipment, wear dark glasses (for safety) and wear hearing protection – all of which seals them up into themselves and their work. Frankie has, however, broken through this shell. ...”

As winner of the Customer Relations award, Lopez received a $500 bonus and three days of recognition leave.

The following employees were also nominated for the Customer Relations Employee of the Year Award: F. John Barker, College of Business and Public Administration; Harry Boucicaut, Distance Learning; Sarah Daniel-Ash, Institutional Research and Assessment; Annette Davis, Facilities Management; Connie Davis, College of Health Sciences; Todd Dergenski, OCCS; Kathy Heins, College of Business and Public Administration; Jean Martin, Graduate Studies; Karen Omtvedt, International Admissions; John Pratt, OCCS; Robin Samuel, Financial Aid; Amy Shay, Distance Learning (John Tyler Community College site); Darlene Smith, Distance Learning (Southside Virginia Community College site); Robin Smith, Distance Learning (Olympic College site); Ronald “Bill” Smith, Facilities Management; Miriam Tejeda-Alvarado, Civil and Environmental Engineering; and David Weisser, Athletics.
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More than 100 employees honored at Annual Recognition Program
The following employees were honored for their years of service to the university on Dec. 11 at the Annual Recognition Program, sponsored by the Department of Human Resources.

35 years
Thomas Loizides, OCCS

30 years
Rosa Breathwaite, Finance; Anicia Compuesto, OCCS; Ella Hoskins, Shirley Hoyt and Joanne Johnson, Facilities Management; Samuel Jones, Webb Center; Jean Martin, Graduate Studies; Jeffrey Spyker, OCCS; Delores White, Finance; Brenda Whitehurst, Human Resources.

25 years
Helen Caldwell, Honors College; Connie Davis, Health Sciences; William Henley, OCCS; Alicia Herr, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Blanche McFarland, Registrar; Katrina Ross, Admissions; Lynda Shirk and Judy Smith, Budget; Carolyn Ward, EO/AA.

20 years
Kay Alexander, OCCS; Barbara Aultman, Webb Center Scheduling; Sharoyn Baker, Student Affairs; Frances Banks, Facilities Management; Jesse Braxton, Athletics; Sheila Brinck, OCCS; Timothy Cromartie and Dannie Gavin, Facilities Management; Susan Harris, OCCS; Sheila Hegwood, Aerospace Engineering; Roy Henderson, Facilities Management; Eddie Hughes, Peninsula Higher Education Center; Lisa Jeffress, New Student and Parent Programs; Jacqueline Johnson, Finance; Mary Johnson, OCCS; William Johnson, Webb Center; Deborah Long, Facilities Management; Ramonsa May, Student Housing; Ken Saal, OCCS; Velma Salaam, Finance; Dyann Spratley, Registrar; Cynlithia Williamson, Parking and Transportation Services; Polly Young, Webb Center.

15 years
Calvin Bray and Karen Daniels, Public Safety; Sheila Haqq, Student Health Services; Shelia Johnson, Facilities Management; Aaron Joyner, Facilities Management; David Kozoyed, OCCS; Murray Leatherwood, Facilities Management; Alfredo Mateo, Finance; Agatha Trumps, Financial Aid; Linda Vining, Distance Learning (Engineering and Operations); Susan Walker, Facilities Management; Richard Wood, Public Safety.

10 years
Joe Blanchard, Virginia Beacher Higher Education Center; Carmela Casey, Finance; Tommie Coppage, Public Safety; Jarin Cornish, Finance; Tiffany Cummings, Engineering Technology; Mary Dempsey, Public Safety; Edward Evans, Facilities Management; Jane Fiesta, International Admissions; Ann Granum, OCCS; Jerry Harrell, Distance Learning (Academic Technology Services); James Harris, University Auditor; Monica Harvey, Facilities Management; Dave Hollembeak, Human Resources; Larry Howard, Public Safety; Rachel Ann Hunter, Virginia Beach Higher Education Center; Margaret Jones, Undergraduate Continuance; Tyna Joyner, Facilities Management; John Kreul, OCCS; Lorenzo Pierce, Athletics; Sandra Reardon and Bernard Runk, OCCS; Margaret Strachan, Financial Aid; Doug Streit, OCCS; Patricia Yancey, Facilities Management.

5 years
Brenda Blount, Finance; Deborah Bond, Philosophy; Natrina Brooks, Registrar; Jane Carlson, Distance Learning (TELETECHNET); Kris Carroll, OCCS; Marfesa Clark, Distance Learning (TELETECHNET); Sava Comsudis, OCCS; Carrie Duran, Engineering and Technology; Rick Eley, OCCS; Robert Gesek and Danny Grant, Webb Center; James Kelly and Jacqueline Lockhart, Facilities Management; Donald Nash, Naval Science; Marelene Patac, University Libraries; Pratik Patel, OCCS; Christopher Powell, Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Shawn Sarauw, Environmental Health and Safety; Elizabeth Sisson, University Libraries; Dwayne Smith, OCCS; Lillian Thompson, Child Study Center; Christina Upton, Student Health Services.
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Hotel opening set for Jan. 31
BAL dedication event is scheduled Feb. 61

SpringHill Suites by Marriott, the latest addition to the University Village, will celebrate its grand opening Thursday, Jan. 31, with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m.

The hotel features 114 suites and a 24-hour business center. An invitation-only reception will follow. Proceeds from a silent auction and cash bar will go to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.

BBL, the Albany, N.Y., construction and development firm that built and owns the hotel, also will announce a gift to Old Dominion in the form of a $50,000 scholarship endowment. The awards will go to outstanding participants from ODU’s Lambert’s Point Summer Program.

ODU SpringHill Suites is located at 4500 Hampton Blvd., next to the Constant Center. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool and spa, and offers a free breakfast buffet for guests. It also features the Monarch Sports Grille, which is open for lunch and dinner For more information visit

Across Hampton Boulevard, the university will celebrate recent renovations to the Batten Arts and Letters Building with a reception at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the west foyer. The event will include the dedication of the Charles N. Cooper Room. Back to top

Memorial service for Wayne Burton is Jan. 20
A memorial service will be held in the Diehn Composers Room at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, for Wayne M. Burton, head of access services at Perry Library, who died Dec. 1, 2007. A Norfolk resident, he was 58.

Born in Amelia County, Va., Burton served the University Libraries for more than 30 years. He was named ODU Librarian of the Year in 2003.

Survivors include his brother, William L. Burton Jr. of Warrenton, Va., and one niece and nephew.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice. Condolences may be offered to the family through Back to top

Thanks for support of HACE holiday projects
The Hourly and Classified Employees Association cannot survive without its members and support from the campus community, and I would like to thank President Runte, Vice President Fenning and Glenda Humphreys for their continued support.

Each year HACE collects food and money to provide baskets to needy employees at Thanksgiving. This year we gave out 130 food boxes and gift certificates for turkeys. I wish to thank Steve Daniel, who coordinates the project; all who donated; and the employees who collected the food and helped with the sorting and boxing.

Again, thanks to the generosity of the ODU community, we were able to give out toys to 74 children of Band 1 employees at our Spirit of the Holidays party. We hosted over 100 children and parents at the event.

Thanks go to Jeraldine Davis, who did an outstanding job of coordinating the party; Lynda Shirk and Jenny Caja, who purchased gifts and supplies; and to all who volunteered in other ways.

– Judy Smith
HACE President
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CLT awards Faculty Innovator Grants
The Center for Learning Technologies recently announced its Faculty Innovator Grant awards for 2007-08.

The grant program encourages faculty to explore the use of technology in teaching and learning issues that are targets for improvement and innovation. Proposals involving collaboration of two or more faculty members from the same department, or different departments in the same or different colleges, were encouraged.

The lessons learned by the recipients will be shared as an important step in promoting or fostering a campus-wide dialogue on innovation in teaching and learning. The final report for each grant will be published on the CLT Web site between March and May, 2009, as a resource for the campus community. Recipients will also present their completed projects as part of CLT's series of workshops, panels and events.

The awards are as follows:

  • Construction Project Portal – Carol Considine, Engineering Technology
  • Working Together: Using Conferencing Software to Facilitate Distance Collaborative Learning – Kevin DePew, English; collaborating faculty: Joyce Neff, English, and Matt Oliver, English
  • Integrating School Library 2.0 in the Preparation of School Librarians – Gail Dickinson, Educational Curriculum and Instruction
  • iStudy Abroad: Portable Media Technologies to Enhance Language Acquisition and Promote Cultural Competency – Betty Rose Facer, Foreign Languages and Literatures; collaborating faculty: Stephen Foster, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Peter Schulman, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Lee Slater, Foreign Languages and Literatures; and Michael Dean, Office of Study Abroad
  • Improving Students’ Information Literacy in the Age of Wikipedia – Jennifer Kidd, Educational Curriculum and Instruction; collaborating faculty: Joan Hecht, Teacher Education Program; Lynn Schultz, Educational Curriculum and Instruction; and Erin Warham, Educational Curriculum and Instruction
  • Learning Introductory Operations Management with Online Technology and Business Process Software – Ling Li, Information Technology and Decision Sciences
  • Creating a Set of Four Interactive Video Demonstrations of Religion, Race, Ethnicity and Gender Issues in Counseling – Garrett J. McAuliffe, Educational Leadership and Counseling
  • Video Podcasting Accompanied by Embedded Learning Strategies Using SolidWorks Cosmos – Moustafa Moustafa, Engineering Technology; collaborating faculty: Stella Bondi, Civil Engineering Technology
  • Using Video to Enhance Patient Handoff and Student Nurse Simulation – Donna Rose, Nursing
  • Modeling & Simulation for International Studies (new course) – John A Sokolowski, VMASC-MSIM Graduate Program; collaborating faculty: Catherine M Banks, VMASC
  • Dynamic Image Manipulation and Simulation in an Inquiry-based Geometry Course – Jeffrey J Steckroth, Educational Curriculum and Instruction; collaborating faculty: Natalie Hutchinson, Mathematics and Statistics.

“What intrigues me about ‘The Wire’ is that it is a place where they bring together lots of social issues that we as a society need to talk about. They present them in a very compelling, dramatic and personal way that I think could lead to broader social discussion about drugs, the underground economy, lack of proper education, cycles of poverty, the decimation of the urban core.” (Jeffrey Jones, associate professor, communication and theatre arts)

– “HBO’s ‘The Wire’ tackles journalism”
Newsday, Jan. 6

“If we don’t have to spend a lot, lot, lot of money, it’s quite possible it could be a good investment. Preseason camps bring in people from different locations. ... It’s something that has become more and more important to the sports fan.” (James Koch, Board of Visitors professor of economics)

– “Beach officials hope to lure Redskins’ training camp to Sportsplex”
The Virginian-Pilot, Jan. 4

Faculty response to the store has also been positive. “They love the atmosphere, and of course they like the fact that there are a lot more trade books.” (Holly Miller, assistant director, University Village Bookstore)

– “A new space for bibliophiles”
Port Folio Weekly, Jan. 1

“She was an attractive woman, a courageous person. I had hoped that some kind of a political arrangement would’ve been made between her and Musharraf that would have given her the chance to come back into power and have a power-sharing arrangement which would have brought stability to Pakistan. That’s the thing that’s missing.” (William Whitehurst, Kaufman Lecturer in public affairs)

– “Local expert explains the impact of Bhutto’s assassination”
WAVY-TV, Dec. 27

“Almost every entrepreneur that’s making a product wants to somewhere have it be made in their own little plant, and we have to tell them sometimes that’s really not feasible.” (Jerry Robertson, director, Technology Applications Center)

– “ODU’s innovation center turns inventors’ dreams into reality”, Dec. 24

“By the force of his personality and his intellect,” Marshall gave the Supreme Court a unified voice with which to interpret and explain the meaning of the Constitution and how it was to operate. (James Sweeney, associate professor of history)

– “The greatest: John Marshall”
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dec. 23
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