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The Board of Visitors today appointed Roseann Runte, president and vice chancellor of Victoria University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, as the seventh president of Old Dominion University, effective July 1, 2001. She succeeds James V. Koch, who is stepping down at the end of the 2000-01 academic year.

"Dr. Runte impressed the board with her experience in higher education, her proven management record and high energy level," said Lawrie Falck Rollison, board rector. "She will bring 19 years of experience as a professor and academic administrator to the university, and we are delighted to welcome her to the Old Dominion family."

When she assumes the office next summer, Runte will become only the third woman to head a four-year college or university in Virginia.

"It is a great honor to be selected as president of Old Dominion University and to be so warmly welcomed into this wonderful community," Runte said. "It is a privilege to follow Dr. Koch, whose remarkable achievements set a very high standard. I would like to thank the board and the selection committee for their confidence in me and I look forward with great pleasure to working with everyone here."

Koch, who has served as Old Dominion president since 1990, said, "Dr. Runte is a superb choice to lead Old Dominion University. I look forward to working with her during the coming year to ensure a smooth transition for her and the university community."

After a period of leave starting July 1, 2001, Koch will return to the university in fall 2002 as the Board of Visitors Professor of Economics.

Runte's appointment concludes an eight-month-long rigorous process by the search committee, which was composed of officers and standing committee chairs of the Board of Visitors, six former rectors, a faculty representative and a student representative. The board also utilized the services of a consulting firm, James L. Fisher Ltd., of Baltimore, to assist in the identification and screening of potential candidates and to prepare an institutional review that offered prospective candidates an independent assessment of the university.

"The search committee reviewed and interviewed many qualified candidates, including more than 30 sitting university presidents. The pool was exceptionally strong, and I am confident that we presented to the board a short list of eminently qualified candidates for its consideration," said George Dragas Jr., vice chair of the search committee. Dragas, an alumnus of Old Dominion, chaired the presidential search committee in 1989 during his tenure as Board of Visitors rector.

Runte (pronounced Run-tuh), a Canadian, has served as president of Victoria University since 1994. A liberal arts school with an enrollment of 4,000, Victoria is federated with the University of Toronto and comprises two colleges: Victoria College, which includes arts, science and commerce, and Emmanuel College, a theology school.

At Victoria University, Runte has raised more than $30 million, doubling the scholarship endowment; supervised major renovations to student residences, the library and investment properties; overseen several construction projects and Internet wiring for all buildings; and created a fund for faculty research and academic innovation.

Prior to her presidency at Victoria, Runte served from 1988 to 1994 as principal of Glendon College (York University) and from 1983 to 1988 as president of l'Universite Sainte-Anne, both in Canada. At Glendon, she increased enrollment by 30 percent, inaugurated international exchanges and added new, interdisciplinary programs. At Sainte-Anne, she was credited with starting a center for business, adding new science laboratories, a theater and museum, and introducing new academic programs. She is also a former department chair and assistant dean.

Runte, who earned her higher education degrees at U.S. universities, has continued to teach and publish throughout her administrative career, editing nine books and writing three creative volumes, 70 articles and book chapters and more than 100 reviews. Her creative writing, which has been translated into English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Rumanian, received the poetry prize from the Academie Francaise in Paris. Her many awards include three honorary degrees.

Also known for her innovative leadership, Runte has created several journals, including one for graduate students, and established international exchanges and a distance education network. In addition, she has founded an educational television station, new alumni and community programs, lectures, international conferences such as the North American consultation on postsecondary education, and a mentor program with world leaders. She also inaugurated such campus-community projects as arbor days and a peace garden.

Runte said she looks forward to the role she will have in ensuring the continuing success of Old Dominion University.

"The heart of any institution is the people. I am really impressed with the quality of the faculty, board, students and staff at Old Dominion. Today, the university's horizon is not the edge of campus, but the world. The connector between the people and the horizon is technology, and Old Dominion, with its fine and truly distinctive teaching and research programs, its cutting-edge and innovative experience in distance education, is poised on the threshold of the 21st century," said Runte.

"Old Dominion can bring the world to Virginia and to Norfolk and secure a place of prominence for this community on the world stage. I look forward to being part of Old Dominion's exciting future."

Runte is past president of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, chair of the board of the Foundation for International Training and member of the International Advisory Board of EXPO 2000. In her community, she is a member of the executive council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, past member of the board of Associated Medical Services and vice chair of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art board.

Runte, 52, received her bachelor's degree in French from State University of New York at New Paltz, and her master's and doctorate in French from the University of Kansas.

This article was posted on: June 26, 2000

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