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ODU To Award Seven Honorary Degrees at Spring Commencement

Old Dominion University will award seven honorary degrees at its 108th commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 10, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

More than 1,900 students are expected to participate in two ceremonies - at 9 a.m. for the colleges of Business and Public Administration, Education and Sciences, and at 2 p.m. for the colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Technology and Health Sciences. Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will speak at the morning ceremony, while MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews will speak in the afternoon. Both will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees also will be awarded during the morning ceremony to Ethel L. Grandy, a local activist, and Richard F. Barry III, vice chairman of Landmark Communications.

A one-woman dynamo, Ethel L. Grandy, or Mother Grandy as she is affectionately known throughout Chesapeake and Hampton Roads, has been making her mark on the Chesapeake community for decades.

Grandy, an 86-year-old mother, grandmother and great grandmother, became an activist at a very early age. She recruited and trained neighborhood residents in local communities to vote at a time when it was not popular for women to lead these activities. She joined the Oak Grove Civic League in her early 20s and rose through the ranks to become president. One of her achievements was encouraging other local civic leagues to establish a joint executive committee for the purpose of recruiting residents to become active members. Local politicians routinely met with the committee.

After retiring from Chesapeake Public Schools, Grandy continued her community activities. She was appointed as one of the first African American women to be a local election judge in Chesapeake.

Continuing in her family tradition, Grandy is an active member of her church. She has served in many capacities and is known for her commitment and dedication to service. She has been a deacon, usher, trustee, Sunday school teacher and member of the missionary board, and she holds the distinction of being the oldest deacon and active member of the church. Grandy is a renowned speaker at churches throughout Hampton Roads and continuously inspires people of all ages to use what they learn in church to direct their lives.

Because of her passion for working with young people, Grandy was elected president of a local Sunday school union in Chesapeake consisting of eight churches. She was the first woman to hold the position of president. Grandy's leadership theme for the union was "youth in action." The union sponsored two successful anti-drug and youth rallies during her tenure, which featured Judge Reginald Walton, the "drug czar" appointed by President George Bush, and U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes.

In 1991, Grandy created Families United Against Drugs, which partners with the city of Chesapeake to carry out its mission of helping to educate youth about the dangers of drugs and bring an end to abuse. She speaks regularly to youth, community and church groups, and she ministers to inmates in the Chesapeake City Jail and to youth in the juvenile detention center.

Grandy has received local and national recognition for her service to the community. She has been honored by many Chesapeake officials and youth and recreational organizations. In 2007, Grandy received the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director's Community Leadership Award for "her demonstrated strong commitment and participation in the furtherance of encouraging youth to be productive citizens within the Hampton Roads community."

Richard F. Barry III served on the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors from 1985 to 1993. During that time, he held positions as rector (1988-90) and vice rector (1986-88). Barry also served on the university's Educational Foundation Board of Trustees, co-chaired the university's first Capital Campaign and created the Richard F. Barry, Jr. Chair in Mathematics in the College of Sciences.

Barry became the vice chairman of Landmark Communications Inc. in 1991 after serving as the company's president from 1978 to 1991 and chief executive officer from 1984 to 1991. While at Landmark, Barry was also the president of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star (1976-78), as well as publisher (1985-90). In addition, he has held positions as president of Times-World Corp. in Roanoke and as a partner of Kaufman and Canoles, Attorneys at Law, in Norfolk.

Barry has a long history of being involved in the community. He currently serves as trustee and chairman of the finance committee for the Mariners' Museum, director of the Obici Healthcare Foundation and chairman of the Norfolk Historical Society's committee for planning and publishing biographies of important figures from Hampton Roads' post-WWII history. His past community involvement includes: trustee of the Chrysler Museum board, trustee and president of the Catholic High School Foundation, chairman of the advisory committee responsible for planning and publishing the history of Norfolk, trustee and chair of the Charter Endowment Campaign for Norfolk Academy, trustee and vice president of the University of Virginia's Colgate Darden Graduate Business School Foundation, and president and campaign chairman of the United Way of South Hampton Roads.

Barry's formal education includes a bachelor of arts degree from LaSalle University and a juris doctorate from the University of Virginia. He received an Honorary Alumni Certificate from Old Dominion University in 1990.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees will be awarded during the afternoon ceremony to Deborah DiCroce, president of Tidewater Community College, and Frank Reidy, president of McClees Associates.

Deborah M. DiCroce, a South Hampton Roads native and lifelong Virginian, has devoted her career to public service. A proven leader in forging partnerships for the public good, DiCroce has headed Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of undergraduate education in Hampton Roads - since May 1998. During her tenure, TCC has experienced 10 consecutive years of enrollment increases, serving nearly 39,000 credit students in 2007-08.

A strong advocate for education as the great equalizer, DiCroce has been especially heralded for her work in expanding the reach of higher education across workforce, gender, racial and cultural boundaries. Recognitions include the Tidewater Chapter of the Virginia Conference for Community and Justice Humanitarian Award, Women in Business Achievement Award from Inside Business and a Woman of Distinction award from the YWCA of South Hampton Roads. She was named Downtowner of the Year in 2005 by the Downtown Norfolk Council and Woman of the Year by the Virginia Women's Forum in 1993. Hampton Roads Magazine named DiCroce to its "A List of 50 Very Important People Shaping Life in Hampton Roads" in 2006.

DiCroce has served on statewide commissions and committees under five Virginia governors, including the Governor's Commission on Educational Opportunity for All Virginians, the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission for Higher Education and the Governor's P-16 Council. She was vice chair of the Governor's Advocacy Council for Workforce 2000 and a past Trustee of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1995, DiCroce was invited as one of 20 college and university presidents nationally to meet with President Bill Clinton at the White House for a discussion on higher education.

In other efforts, she served on the city of Norfolk's homeless commission; partnered with the Jewish Community Center in its annual film festivals; and marked the 50th anniversary of civil rights with a photographic mural of sit-ins at the former Woolworth's building, now a part of TCC's Norfolk campus. She also chaired the regional board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

DiCroce holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English from Old Dominion University and a doctorate in Higher Education from The College of William and Mary. She has been recognized as a distinguished alumna of both institutions, as well as of Norfolk Catholic High School.

A resident of Virginia Beach since 1986, Frank Reidy is president of McClees Associates, LLC. Along with his partners, Reidy also started an oil and gas exploration and production business in Pennsylvania, which employs 100 people and operates 1,000 wells.

Prior to moving to Virginia Beach, Reidy and his partners started a small ship repair business in Saigon that supported U.S. Navy river craft and Army harbor vessels. He sold the business in 1972 and moved to Singapore to manage a General Motors diesel engine franchise. This company grew to 350 employees and operated in six Asian countries. He sold this business in 1984 to Unilever in London.

Ten years ago, Reidy began working with Karl Schoenbach, eminent scholar and professor in Old Dominion University's electrical and computer engineering department to establish the Research Center for Bioelectrics, which bears Reidy's name. He served on the board of Operation Smile from 1991 to 2000 and remains active with the organization today. He was a founding member of the Young Presidents Organization in Singapore, and he currently serves as a director of the Navy League of Hampton Roads.

Reidy is working on two books, "Ad-Venture Capital," which is an account of his business adventures, and "Peace and War," an autobiography recounting his journey from the Peace Corps to the Vietnam War.

Reidy graduated from Villanova University in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He joined the Peace Corps and served in Bangladesh, building hurricane shelters on the coastal islands. For his work, he received a degree in Far East Studies from the University of Minnesota in 1965. His continuing education over the years has included business courses at the University of Maryland, Harvard University, the Kellogg School of Management and the Wharton School.

Reidy currently lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Juliette. They have three sons.

Dr. Charles A. Taylor assumed the role of president of Thomas Nelson Community College on July 1, 2004. He holds a doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Loyola University of Chicago, a master's degree in Education from The Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Prior to taking the position of president, he served as senior vice chancellor for administration and finance/chief operating officer at Peralta Community College District in Oakland, California. Dr. Taylor was with the Peralta Community College District for two years, and prior to that he served as vice president for student affairs at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. He served as president of St. Philip's College in San Antonio, Texas and was chancellor and chief executive officer for the Community Colleges of Spokane, Washington. He has also held administrative appointments in Illinois and Maryland.

In addition to his extensive administrative experience, Dr. Taylor taught in the Department of Counseling, Psychology and Higher Education at Loyola University of Chicago. He served as an assistant professor of education at Chicago State University.

Dr. Taylor has served in various community and civic organizations and national boards. Since becoming president of TNCC, Dr. Taylor has continued his community involvement by serving on the boards for Hampton Roads Partnership, Virginia Tidewater Consortium and Greater Peninsula NOW. He has a number of publications to his credit and has won national awards.

He is married to Dr. Scheherazade Taylor, who has a doctorate in Health Systems and Nursing Administration from the University of Michigan. They have four children.

This article was posted on: April 30, 2008

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