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Michael McGinnis, the recently retired Army officer and West Point department head who assumed leadership Monday, June 12, of Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, arrived in Hampton Roads with only good things to say about the ODU president, Roseann Runte.

Runte, he revealed, slipped away from her duties in Norfolk to drive nine hours to West Point for McGinnis' retirement ceremony on June 2. She spoke at the ceremony, returned directly to her car and drove back to Norfolk.

"This is the first time I have ever experienced or observed, in my seven years as department head at West Point, the leader of a gaining organization reaching out and welcoming someone in this way," McGinnis said. "I was deeply honored and impressed by her presence and by her remarks. It speaks volumes about her as a caring leader and team builder."

He said Runte, in her ceremony remarks, congratulated him for his Army career of 29 years and welcomed him and his wife, Tracy, to ODU. "She also laid out the challenges ahead for me as the executive director of VMASC. Tracy and I are very excited to be joining Old Dominion University and VMASC."

McGinnis, who had served as chair of the Department of Systems Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, was elevated from colonel to brigadier general at his retirement ceremony, and also awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Medal.

Runte said she was honored to participate in McGinnis' retirement ceremony. "The high regard in which he is held by all his colleagues speaks very well, indeed, about his capacity for innovation and his perceptive nature. I am proud that he has chosen Old Dominion for the next chapter in his career and I know that he will lead us well in our efforts to double the size of our program and to increase dramatically the economic impact VMASC has on the region."

McGinnis has been a regular member of official U.S. delegations to international symposia involving computer simulations. In 2002-03 he directed a task force for the secretary of the Army that used modeling and analysis to revamp the way the Army builds its combat brigades.

As director in 1997-99 of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Analysis Center in Monterey, Calif., McGinnis built a reimbursable research program and gained an international reputation in advanced computer simulation. He gave a keynote speech on "Emerging Trends in Modeling and Simulation Technologies" at a conference of 400 engineers and scientists in Australia in 1998.

Under his leadership, reimbursable research in systems engineering at West Point increased from $300,000 in 1999 to $3 million in 2005, and he was
credited with expanding the institution's research partnerships both with the Department of Defense and private industry.

The memorandum recommending the advancement to brigadier general is a five-page, single-spaced account of McGinnis' achievements submitted by Lt.
Gen. William J. Lennox Jr., superintendent of the military academy. The memorandum noted McGinnis's "reputation within DOD as one of the Army's foremost experts on modeling, simulations and analysis."

Another memorandum from Lennox recommending the service medal for McGinnis, identifies him as "one of the military's leading contemporary authors on
the applications of operations research and systems engineering methods to solve military problems."

Tracy McGinnis received an award of her own at the retirement ceremony. She got the academy's Black and Gold Citation for her seven years of volunteer service to the West Point community.

Since 1997, when it was founded, VMASC has been an integral part of a Hampton Roads modeling and simulation complex that focuses on military applications. Many of the applications involve training under simulated conditions, but also include the development and testing of strategies, policies and equipment. VMASC serves businesses and industries apart from the military, as well, and is a catalyst for $500 million per year in economic activity in Hampton Roads.

This article was posted on: June 13, 2006

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