December 4, 2008
ODU to Award Four Honorary Degrees at Fall Commencement
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University will award four honorary degrees at its 109th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
More than 1,800 students are eligible to graduate this semester, and nearly 1,000 are expected to participate in the two ceremonies. Virginia governor Timothy M. Kaine will speak to graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business and Public Administration and Health Sciences at 9 a.m., and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker will speak to graduates from the colleges of Engineering and Technology, Education and Sciences at 2 p.m.
Old Dominion will award Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to four alumni: Delores Johnson Brown and Patricia Turner, members of the original "Norfolk 17" who integrated the city's public schools; Robert L. Fodrey Sr., a former Board of Visitors member and longtime ODU supporter; and Anne Donovan, who coached the U.S. women's basketball gold-medal team at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Turner and Fodrey will receive their degrees at the morning ceremony; Brown and Donovan will be awarded their degrees during the afternoon program.
Fodrey, a retired director of the U.S. Navy's Regional Office of Civilian Manpower Management in Norfolk, is credited with 41 years of federal service with the Navy in Hampton Roads and has served as a tireless volunteer to both ODU and the community.
A 1957 graduate of ODU's business administration program, Fodrey went on to receive a master's in management at George Washington University. He was a key player in forming the ODU Alumni Association, and served as its board president from 1958-60 and again in 1987-88. He also was a member of the Board of Visitors for eight years (1973-81), including a stint as vice rector.
Fodrey was also a member of the ODU President's Council; served on the Educational Foundation board of trustees, including a term as president; and chaired the Annual Fund campaign in 1987. In addition, he is a past president of Town-N-Gown and was a founder and past president of CHROME, Cooperating Hampton Roads Organizations for Minorities in Engineering, which is based at the university. He was awarded the University Medal, ODU's highest honor, in 1986, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni and Alumni Service awards.
In the community, he has served as president and board chairman of the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Program (STOP), a local community action agency, and was president of the Urban League.
Turner, who helped break the color barrier in Norfolk's public schools as a member of the Norfolk 17, was one of five African American children to integrate Norview Junior High School on Feb. 2, 1959. She was 14 years old, starting her final semester as an eighth-grader, when the 17 students entered six previously all-white middle and high schools in the city. The schools had been closed for five months following Virginia's massive resistance effort to avoid the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which mandated desegregation in the nation's schools.
Turner and her black classmates endured isolation, harassment, taunting and, in some cases, physical violence. She went on to graduate from Norview High School in 1963.
After high school, Turner moved to Philadelphia where she worked as a supervisor for the telephone company, before beginning a 20-year career in nursing. Gifted in mathematics, she ultimately decided to switch careers and become a teacher.
Turner earned a bachelor's degree from Norfolk State University in three years, and began a teaching career in the Norfolk Public Schools. In 1997, she received her master's in education from Old Dominion. After teaching at Blair Middle School for 16 years, she retired in June 2008.
Donovan graced the sport of women's basketball at ODU from 1979-83, helping lead the Lady Monarchs to a national championship in 1980 and two more Final Four appearances.
In 2008, as head coach of the U.S women's basketball team at the Summer Olympics, she led the squad to the gold medal, making her the first person to win gold as both a player and head coach. A three-time Olympian during her playing days, Donovan won gold as a member of the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic teams, served as an assistant coach for Team USA during its gold medal wins in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and was named head coach for 2006-08.
During her collegiate career, Donovan was recognized by virtually every postseason and All-America squad. After completing her four years at ODU with a 3.5 cumulative average in her major of leisure studies, she received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. Her collegiate achievements culminated in 1983 when she won the Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top player. Donovan is the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in ODU history, and she still ranks as the NCAA's all-time leading shot blocker.
Donovan, who has played and coached at both the collegiate and professional levels, led the Seattle Storm to the WNBA championship in 2004 as head coach. An internationally recognized ambassador for her sport, she is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Brown, who along with Turner helped break the color barrier in Norfolk's public schools as a member of the Norfolk 17, was one of seven African American children to integrate Norview High School on Feb. 2, 1959. She was 16 years old and a junior at the time.
She ultimately received her diploma from Norfolk's Booker T. Washington High School, graduating in 1963. Five years later, she earned a bachelor's degree at Norfolk State and embarked on what would be a 28-year teaching career in the Norfolk Public Schools.
In 1975, Brown received a master's degree in education from Old Dominion and a certificate of advanced study eight years later. She retired as a reading teacher in 1996.
Old Dominion University
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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.