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Three Old Dominion administrators, including President Roseann Runte, joined an elite group this spring when they "tailhooked" aboard the USS George Washington as it was operating off the coast in preparation for deployment.

The group, which also included David Hager, acting provost, and Karen Travis, assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement, were part of the Distinguished Visitors program arranged by Dick Whalen, the university's director of military activities.

"I initiated this program in 1993 as a method of providing faculty and administrators with personal insights on the demanding lifestyles and unique levels of responsibility that military-affiliated personnel bring to campus as students," Whalen said, adding that more than 100 university members have participated to date.

After flying aboard, the group was greeted by the ship's commanding officer, Capt. William McCarthy, before beginning their overnight tour of the "city at sea." From the vantage point of "vulture's row," a walkway overlooking the flight deck, they saw fighter jets catapulted off and trapped via arrested landing on the aircraft carrier, and they were briefed on many of the ship's functions.

"I was impressed by the professionalism of each person I met," noted President Runte. "Their commitment to excellence, their attention to detail, their knowledge, skills and talents, their strength and courage were remarkable. Five thousand people moved as one community to accomplish their goals with precision and dedication."

Of special importance to the Old Dominion visitors was the opportunity to view in person the classrooms where sailors take part in the university's TELETECHNET program. The USS George Washington was the first carrier to receive M.B.A. classes from Old Dominion while at sea in 1996. This deployment will mark the third linking of the university and the ship.

"I am especially delighted that Old Dominion is a part of the life of the men and women at sea. When they sail, we sail with them," Runte said.

For her part, Travis said the trip enhanced her existing appreciation for the military and provided a wonderful sense of pride for the partnerships the university has created with them.

"I was amazed at the sheer precision, professionalism and commitment to excellence of the entire operation," she said. "There are more than 5,000 sailors from diverse ethnic, cultural and geographical backgrounds all working toward keeping this floating city operational.

"Now, regarding climbing stairs," said Travis, referring to the ship's height equivalency to a 24-story building, "let's just say I won't be using the Stairmaster at the gym any time soon."

This article was posted on: March 15, 2002

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