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ODU President John R. Broderick Delivers 2010 State of the University Address

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick outlined his vision for a "Transformative University" at the annual State of the University address Tuesday morning at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The President's speech, before more than 1,000 faculty and staff, military, business and community leaders, and local and state legislators, outlined the university's strategic plan and push to become one of the nation's preeminent metropolitan research universities. (Watch video of address here: Video Read full text of address here: Text )

"We are the largest university within the nation's 36th largest metropolitan area, which has a population in excess of 1.5 million," Broderick told the breakfast crowd. "My vision is that Old Dominion University will be recognized as one of the nation's preeminent metropolitan research universities by contributing to all aspects of life in Hampton Roads."

Earlier this summer, Broderick was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell, along with 30 other educational leaders, to the Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment. The President said many of the commission's goals line up closely with those of Old Dominion University.

"The predominate goal at the state level is to make higher education accessible to qualified students, regardless of their background or their ability to pay. But this doesn't mean simply increasing numbers," Broderick said. "In addition, we must support the governor's effort to increase degree attainment," particularly in needed areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education.

Broderick said one of the goals of the university's strategic plan is to continue to position Old Dominion University as a driver of economic growth for the region. The president said ODU generates about a billion dollars annually in economic activity in Hampton Roads. "We take this responsibility seriously and will leverage our investments to create further growth through strategic partnerships."

The proof of that is the creation of the ODU Business Gateway, which Broderick said transforms the way the university interacts with business. "The Gateway provides a single entry point to the university's intellectual capital, world-class infrastructure and innovative technologies."

Broderick said the university also has a duty to engage with its community. "Having the resources within this campus and not sharing them is simply not an option," he said. "We must honor the trust placed in us by parents, taxpayers, students, faculty and donors to participate in intelligent thought and action for the common good."

Initiatives such as the new Study of Critical Issues, which will examine the most pressing challenges facing Hampton Roads, an effort led by Vice President of University Advancement Alonzo Brandon; and a project to identify the multi-faceted impact climate change and rising sea levels will have on our region, led by former ODU president Jim Koch and oceanography professor Larry Atkinson, are examples of this engagement, Broderick said.

The president's speech also outlined the previous year's achievements by students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters. And Broderick spoke about ODU's master plan, and the challenges of moving the university forward in a difficult financial environment.

"While it certainly can have a significant impact, the current economic crisis will not break us," Broderick said, noting that Old Dominion managed to weather the financial crisis last year with no layoffs and the second-smallest tuition increase among Virginia universities.

"Our number one priority has been to lessen the impact on the people within our community. As a result, we've assessed and examined programs, structure and operations to decide what to advance, what to put on hold and what to let go."

The president said the one blessing of the difficult financial picture is it forces Old Dominion University to figure out what it is and where it wants to go. And the lifeblood of the university, Broderick said, is its people. That's why the school took a number of actions to buffer the impact of losing state dollars, and was able to opt out of the one-day furlough for state employees.

"Keeping students means helping them succeed," Broderick said. Following a report on ODU's efforts at enhancing student life and student success, the President appointed a committee to review the report's recommendations, define what constitutes success, and recommend a structure to better support students here.

"The committee, led by vice president Glenda Humphreys and composed of representatives from across campus, recommended establishing a vice presidential-level position for student engagement and student enrollment services to further our commitment to student success and student learning. I will move forward on that recommendation this fall."

That fits with the goal in ODU's strategic plan of providing students the tools they need to succeed, Broderick said. "Probably the tool we value most on this campus is our expert faculty," he said. "Faculty members are the heart of this institution, and their engaging - in many cases, award-winning - teaching and research are the reasons our students are equipped for success when they graduate."

Broderick said the school's new Center for Learning and Teaching excellence will support ODU's faculty, offering workshops and other training. And the Student Success Center and new Learning Commons, under construction at the Perry Library, will further give students the tools they need to succeed, Broderick said.

"Of course, not all of college is about the classroom," Broderick said. "For that reason, we provide a wealth of amenities and extra-curricular activities that is becoming more and more residential. Some 6,500 students now live within walking distance of campus."

Another of the university's strategic plan goals is to gain a national reputation through key academic programs. Broderick said that is "well underway," with the school's two-year-old doctoral program in counseling being named the top such program in the country, and the creation of a bachelor's degree in modeling, simulation and visualization engineering, making ODU the only school in the United States offering a complete advanced education in M&S.

Broderick spoke about the importance of the M&S industry to Hampton Roads, and Old Dominion University's pivotal role in it, an issue which gained headlines recently with the announced closure plan for Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), a key customer for Old Dominion's M&S research expertise.

"JFCOM has been a longtime partner and friend. It has been an important catalyst for many of our successes," the president said. "While we have worked at diversifying our efforts at modeling and simulation, it remains of critical importance to our region, the Commonwealth and our nation that the mission and capabilities of JFCOM remain in Hampton Roads."

This article was posted on: August 25, 2010

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