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In his 11th report on the state of the university Aug. 24, President James V. Koch took a moment to reflect on his tenure at Old Dominion and to thank the members of the campus community for their hard work before offering his assessment of where the institution now stands and noting some "unfinished agendas."

Early in his address, Koch said, "Old Dominion University now is my home, and after this year I will have spent more time at Old Dominion than on any other campus. Make no mistake, my loyalties, friends and intellectual work are now located in Hampton Roads."

Calling his job the "proverbial labor of love," he told those assembled in the Godwin Auditorium that while times of frustration and disappointment were part of the total package, there were many more days when being president was "exhilarating, rewarding and the best thing on earth to be doing."

Citing a long list of achievements over the past decade, from an increase in headcount enrollment by 3,000 students to a successful capital campaign to the addition of new buildings and centers, he said, "Recognize that each of these achievements reflects the performance of dozens or even hundreds of faculty, staff and students...They are not 'Jim Koch achievements,' but instead reflect the sparkling vitality of this academic community and the amazingly good things that can occur when individuals are encouraged to be entrepreneurial in their daily lives."

But he also outlined a few disappointments and initiatives yet to be accomplished, chief among them being state funding, which he said "is still far short of what it should be." He later stated that his top legislative goal in the coming year will be to make more progress in eliminating disparities in funding among Old Dominion and other state schools.

"Correcting funding deficiencies is a long, hard process that requires stamina and patience, not simply a good case," Koch noted. He urged faculty and staff to contact their state legislators to help bring more attention to Old Dominion's needs.

In addition, the president noted that improvement still must be made in attracting more students from Northern Virginia, and even bemoaned the lack of success in getting 43rd Street paved. He also said, "As evidenced by the newest Fisher Report, the university still has not firmly determined what it is, or should be, in the area of research and graduate programs."

"While we have made marvelous progress in the '90s, as an institution we still have a long way to travel before we are the university we would like to be. There remains much for President-elect Dr. Roseann Runte and this splendid institution to accomplish," Koch said.

Looking ahead, the president advised the university community to continue to respond and provide leadership in a world of higher education characterized by what economic and social historian Joseph Schumpeter called "perennial waves of creative destruction."

"I am both pleased and proud that Old Dominion, which often labels itself the 'University of the 21st Century,' has stepped forward boldly in areas such as distance education, military transition education, information technology training, modeling and simulation, and e-commerce. For an institution of its size and previous scope, Old Dominion has been a leader and trend-setter with surprising frequency."

On the subject of educating students, Koch said the university must graduate "well-educated individuals who not only have learned many things, but also have learned something about how to live. This dictum must apply to mechanical engineers and art historians alike. Both will live in a world in which representative individuals will hold more than a half dozen distinct jobs or occupations during their lifetimes and will observe entire segments of the economy emerging and disappearing. We must do our best to prepare them for this challenging milieu."

He added that Old Dominion must also stress the importance of lifelong learning and said, "Their ability to access and acquire information in the future ultimately will be more important than the specific facts that happen to reside in their craniums on the day they graduate."

During his talk, Koch recognized the achievements of about two dozen faculty and students over the past year, announced the appointment of five new University Professors, an honor that recognizes outstanding teaching.

Addressing the issue of next summer's presidential transition, Koch said that President-elect Runte will visit the campus periodically in the coming year to meet with members of the university community and to learn more about Old Dominion.

"Dr. Runte is an experienced president and I am confident that you will like her immediately, as Donna and I did," he said. "She has assembled an outstanding record of accomplishments at Victoria University in Toronto and is a very well-published scholar in the areas of French language and culture and comparative literature. Her work has been published in a half dozen languages and she is an internationalist in every respect."

Koch, who will take a year's leave starting next July 1, also talked briefly about his future plans. "I hope to generate a series of publishable manuscripts and will do some teaching at other institutions as I enhance the courses I will teach at Old Dominion on my return."

This article was posted on: August 24, 2000

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.