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Despite the commonwealth's bleak economic picture, President Roseann Runte argued in her Aug. 22 State of the University address that there are some lights at the end of the tunnel, and she urged faculty to support the Nov. 5 bond referendum to make those lights shine even brighter.

Noting that both the World Bank and the World Commission on Education for the 21st Century recently issued reports that encourage support for higher education, she added that "right here in Virginia, there is a bond referendum which holds great promise for our university and for all the universities in the commonwealth."

If the referendum passes, Old Dominion will benefit from the financing of six badly needed construction projects, including the renovation of the Batten Arts and Letters and Technology buildings, and the construction of a new science building.

"Your voice is critical in this matter," Runte said. "This may well be the first time that an issue so directly affecting Old Dominion University is before every citizen of the commonwealth. This may be the last opportunity we have in some time to obtain this needed construction. Please help make that light shine for Old Dominion and make our hopes become reality."

Runte, who had prepared her State of the University address prior to Gov. Mark Warner's announcement Monday of more budget cuts on the horizon, also spoke about this latest situation, in which state agencies have been asked to submit plans to reduce their general fund budgets for fiscal years 2003 and 2004 by 7, 11 and 15 percent, and told that they will be issued spending limits, which Warner said will primarily affect travel, equipment and other costs "not required to support an agency's core functions."

Noting that tough decisions will have to be made in the coming weeks, Runte echoed the remarks from her campuswide letter Monday afternoon: "The implications of these changes will not be known for several weeks, but I call on each of you to pull together to weather this storm."

In her address, Runte also gave a synopsis of the findings from the numerous focus groups that were conducted over the past year. Everyone from campus neighbors and prospective students to the arts and business communities were heard, and the results of the consultations, in the form of two vision statements, will soon be shared with the Faculty Senate and
Board of Visitors.

"We heard that people want Old Dominion to develop in quality, in graduate studies, in research," Runte told those assembled in the Godwin Building auditorium. We heard that everyone appreciates the diversity and international character of the campus.

"We heard that people feared growth without the necessary financial support (one might suspect that this was a lesson learned by experience). We learned that people want Old Dominion to remain dynamic and oriented toward the future."

In addition to vision statements, an outline for a financial campaign, "Investing in People for Progress,' has been developed in coordination with the deans, Runte said, a grass-roots effort that will celebrate Old Dominion's 75th anniversary in 2005 and involve all of the colleges.

"We will seek funds in particular for scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and financial aid, as well as for faculty chairs and research support," she stated.

In the coming year, the university also will continue to consult with constituent groups, starting with the campus master plan, particularly with an aim toward finding ways to make the campus more inviting to both commuter students and to faculty.

Noting that student focus groups in the spring already made a pitch for Starbucks and more computers, Runte announced that both a Starbucks and a cyber café will open in Webb Center this fall, along with a second Starbucks in BAL.

"It is not without irony that just as we are making the campus wireless, we are wiring the people!" Runte joked.

She also noted that 2002-03 will be a busy year for searches and asked for faculty help in nominating prospective candidates for three dean positions and the provost position.

In addition, Runte noted the following events scheduled to take place this fall: construction next month on the first phase of new residences for the University Village, the maglev "lift-off" event; the arrival of the new oceanographic research vessel, the Fay Slover; and the Constant Convocation Center dedication.

Runte, who is starting her second year as president of Old Dominion, devoted a good portion of her address to thanking and praising individual faculty and staff for their efforts last year and highlighting the many accomplishments that were achieved by the campus community.

In her closing remarks, she spoke of the future. "Education is the one sure investment for the present and the future. It is
not an easily reversible process. While markets may fluctuate and falter, learning will never stop. When all material wealth is lost, the riches of intellectual understanding remain and suffice to keep us alive and distinguish us from all other species on the globe."

She concluded with a final plea regarding the bond referendum. "I have every confidence that our leaders will have the wisdom to support higher education, thereby investing in the future, and that our citizens, led by you, will demonstrate your commitment to education and your good sense with great eloquence at the ballot box on Nov. 5."

This article was posted on: August 20, 2002

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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

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