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Old Dominion University Will Continue to Excel as an Urban Research Institute Serving All Virginians, Broderick Says

As the university that's known as the Idea Fusion community, Old Dominion is helping create a better world, President John R. Broderick said Tuesday.

Broderick talked with pride about the university's transformation into a state-of-the-art urban research institution with a vibrant campus life during his annual State of the University address.

In front of a breakfast crowd of 1,100 faculty, staff and students, as well as local business, community and political leaders, at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center, Broderick spoke of a university growing in size and stature, and diligently following the goals articulated in the Commission on Higher Education Reform, assembled by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Broderick thanked McDonnell and the members of the Virginia General Assembly for recognizing Old Dominion's role in the state's future by allocating $12.6 million for the university's efforts toward access and affordability.

"But now is not the time to rest on our laurels," Broderick said. "Despite this show of support, ODU remains the lowest-funded institution in the state. This year, I will persist in voicing the extraordinary accomplishments of Old Dominion in every city and every venue where decisions are made and support is won."

That also includes an effort to connect with alumni and friends to generate key private funds, Broderick said, noting that philanthropic supporters have donated nearly $34 million to ODU in the past three years.

Broderick pointed out that Old Dominion is perhaps unique among the state's public doctoral institutions in its ability to meet McDonnell's goals for higher education in the commonwealth.

"One of the group's outcomes, 'Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century,' provides a unique opening for Old Dominion," Broderick said. "We have provided everything the commonwealth has asked of us."

That includes, Broderick said:

  • Serving Virginians - ODU has enrolled more Virginians than any institution in the last five years;
  • Partnering with the community colleges - ODU accepts the largest number of community college transfers of any institution with a statewide articulation agreement;
  • Producing STEM-related graduates - ODU has the second-highest percentage of graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math category; and
  • Remaining affordable - ODU has the lowest tuition among the doctoral institutions in Virginia.

Broderick said if new funding is awarded to the university, the school has pledged to increase its online offerings in conjunction with the community college system; increase its commitment to STEM-related disciplines, including nursing; expand programs like Project Lead the Way; and further enhance initiatives such as the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, and the ODU Business Gateway.

ODU's strategic plan includes an effort to invest in research and help spur economic growth in the region. Broderick said the 2010 launch of the ODU Business Gateway aims to meet that goal, providing streamlined access to the university's intellectual capital, technology and infrastructure to solve problems, expand capabilities and create new ventures.

Broderick said in a little over a year, more than 100 businesses, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, military commands and others have been served by the Business Gateway.

"From helping a premier health care system achieve world-class performance, to assisting more than 300 military veterans as they grow their businesses, to educating 200 professionals in cutting-edge sustainability techniques, the ODU Business Gateway is making quite an impression," the president said.

"Actually, a measured impact of nearly $200 million was reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce."

Broderick said the success of the ODU Business Gateway helped prompt the creation this past summer of the Innovation Foundation, which seeks to increase opportunities for consulting engagements for faculty members, provide easier access to the university for businesses and offer internships and jobs for students.

In last year's State of the University address, the president spoke about a project to identify and address the multifaceted impact that rising sea levels have on the Hampton Roads region.

"Our need to study this critical issue is not a belief - scientific readings all over the region prove that it is both legitimate and factual," Broderick said.

ODU's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative began last fall with a forum led by Navy oceanographer David Titley, and has continued throughout the year with interdisciplinary research efforts involving all six ODU colleges.

"We recognize that dealing with rising sea level is not just all science and engineering. In fact, that may be the easy part. How people respond to it and make decisions is more difficult," Broderick said. "To better understand this important aspect of sea level rise, Old Dominion has four projects that look at everything from perceptions and attitudes to how to teach climate change concepts."

Broderick also highlighted the university's engaging, innovative teaching methods in his address.

"Whether in the College of Sciences studying ice melts in the Arctic Circle or the College of Health Sciences re-envisioning local and global health, our faculty members continue to push the limits of research and scholarship," he said. "In examining the issues around child hunger or the impact of human behaviors on the housing crisis, faculty are bringing their valuable research into the classroom, encouraging students to see the world in new and dynamic ways."

Broderick also noted the selection of biological sciences professor Mark Butler as an Outstanding Faculty Award winner by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the 25th ODU professor to be honored since 1991. ODU boasts the second-highest total among all Virginia colleges and universities, he added.

Broderick said the leading goal of Old Dominion's strategic plan is to provide students with the tools to succeed. "Clearly, the first step toward success happens in our classrooms."

A committee has worked over the last year to create an infrastructure to ensure student success, leading to the creation of a new division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, formed under the leadership of new vice president Ellen Neufeldt.

"From the point of first contact with prospective students through helping our graduates start rewarding careers in their first job, the new division will ensure a seamless support system," Broderick said. "Most importantly, it will collaborate with partners in academic affairs as it enriches active learning and engagement that foster a climate of success."

The president highlighted one of the physical resources for student success, the soon-to-open Student Success Center, which consolidates support services for students in a building that wraps around Perry Library. The front of the library will include ODU's new Learning Commons, which brings together library resources, state-of-the-art technology and services to facilitate student learning.

Broderick said students are already achieving. Team Tidewater Virginia, a group of ODU and Hampton University students led by John Whitelaw, an environmental engineering doctoral student in the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, is one of only 20 teams worldwide selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.

"The prestigious event challenges students to design, build and operate the most affordable and energy-efficient solar-powered house," Broderick said. "The Team Tidewater house, called Unit 6 Unplugged, was constructed on the Old Dominion campus this summer and will be moved to our nation's capital for the competition beginning Sept. 23." Thousands of tourists, architects and engineers are expected to visit the house during the competition.

On the southern boundary of the ODU campus, townhouses of the 43rd Street Norfolk development have risen from what used to be asphalt parking lots. "The joint project of the city of Norfolk and ODU's Community Development Corporation features 51 homes that are being sold at prices that workforce families can afford," Broderick said.

Turning to the subject of safety and crime prevention, the president noted that ODU's campus crime statistics are on par with institutions around Virginia, but he stressed that several high-profile robberies and the senseless death of student Christopher Cummings, near the campus, are unacceptable.

"Our priority continues to be making ODU a safe and supporting community for everyone," he said.

Campus security consultant D. Stafford and Associates evaluated ODU's safety and security measures, leading to the acquisition of $2 million in additional enhancements, such as more police officers, video surveillance cameras, lighting and safety forums.

With the majority of the incidents happening off campus, where many ODU students live, a different approach and more collaboration are needed, Broderick said. ODU Police and Norfolk Police have been working together to enhance joint policing efforts, resulting in additional officers in marked vehicles, on bicycles and on foot patrol, solely dedicated to the area surrounding the university.

"Together, the departments have fanned out across the neighborhoods to pursue a community-policing philosophy, talking with residents and establishing relationships," Broderick said. "I want to thank Mayor Paul Fraim, City Manager Marcus Jones and Chief of Police Sharon Chamberlin for their commitment to this collaborative effort."

Broderick said a university-wide group of leaders, under the direction of Gwen Lee-Thomas, has been meeting throughout the summer to create a plan to enhance off-campus community engagement and safety efforts. That plan will result in a number of measures being implemented:

  • The hiring of David Harnage as the university's chief operating officer, with direct responsibility for public safety.
  • Expanding ODU's safety task force to a broader-focused ODU community one, looking at areas of safety, education, literacy, economic stability and community stabilization;
  • Launching an effort to engage local-area landlords to voluntarily complete a safety audit and support a checklist of community standards for their properties;
  • Creating a student-led initiative, known as Monarch Citizens, to instill a culture of pride and responsibility - both on campus and off - among students, faculty and staff; and
  • Continually re-envisioning and revitalizing our commitment to and our work in the communities directly surrounding the university.

"Any successful metropolitan university has strong ties with its neighbors," Broderick said. "We are as enriched by the community's contributions as, hopefully, the community is by the university's presence.

"A lot has been done to address safety concerns; but our work is not over. Safety is a continually evolving and changing issue and, as such, the university and all its partners must be vigilant and adaptive in our efforts. It is crucial that all stakeholders take an active role in efforts to make the greater ODU area the safest in which to live, learn and work."

Near the end of his address, Broderick invited popular ODU mascot Big Blue on stage to recognize the efforts of many members of the university community in getting Blue selected as Capital One Mascot of the Year.

"I was with Big Blue at the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day when we accepted the award on national TV, and believe me when I say Monarch Nation couldn't have been more proud," the president said.

Broderick said Big Blue's achievement is typical of ODU athletics, where champions are created every day, "on the court and in the classroom."

It's also typical of the pride and determination that every member of the university community possesses, Broderick said.

"Longtime Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh said, 'The essence of leadership is that you can't blow an uncertain trumpet.' I believe the notes we are playing at Old Dominion are abundantly clear to everyone. The state of Old Dominion University is strong. Together, we are composing a masterpiece that makes our community, our nation and our world a better place for all."

This article was posted on: August 25, 2011

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