Forward-looking ODU is where innovation meets possibility – The Virginian-Pilot
Old Dominion University began a new chapter in its storied history on October 21 with the inauguration of its ninth leader and the announcement of our $500 million capital campaign. In this new chapter, ODU is looking forward in its mission and working with a foundation rooted in innovation.
Higher education faces strong headwinds. Coming out of the pandemic, the need to think differently has accelerated and ODU is responding. We are finalizing a five-year strategic plan designed to propel us into the future. We build on our tradition of providing a world-class education to a diverse student body and ensuring that higher education continues to deliver on our promise to improve lives for generations.
We are proud to have been awarded the prestigious designation of Research Institution 1 of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This recognition reinforces our focus on conducting research that impacts our community and the world. Our R1 status highlights the exceptional talent of our researchers, professors and students who seek answers to difficult questions in all disciplines. And that puts us in elite company, alongside some of the world’s best-known research institutions. Only 3% of higher education institutions in the country have achieved Research 1 recognition.
We listen to Commonwealth employers and create new, in-demand programs that meet their education and workforce needs. For example, in 2015, ODU had 11 students enrolled in a new cybersecurity program. Today, more than 1,100 students are engaged in this flagship program. In every industry, data is key to making informed decisions with tactical precision, and the need for a skilled data science workforce has never been greater. ODU recently committed to expanding its longstanding work in data science, which is at the center of economic development activity. As such, ODU recently announced a new Data Science Learning and Research Center in Virginia Beach to expand its critical work with students in data collection and interpretation.
Our region’s greatest research asset with the most untapped economic potential surrounds us: water. To that end, ODU is adding the School of Supply Chain, Logistics and Maritime Operations to create a workforce pipeline for the Port of Virginia, shipyards, defense industry and the manufacturers. Hampton Roads will be an international model of innovation in blue technology, and ODU will be at the center.
Part of our necessary evolution includes growing our pioneering distance learning platform into ODUGlobal, providing best-in-class education solutions to the world. We will make significant improvements to the student experience of online learning, while focusing on digital innovation.
Our students will learn in state-of-the-art facilities designed for hands-on learning environments where they can work collaboratively. This summer, the new Health Sciences Building will house an experiential learning space for the Schools of Dental Hygiene and Rehabilitation Sciences, as well as the Sofia and David Konikoff Dental Hygiene Care Center and the Faschini Center. Wallach for restorative therapies. In 2026, we will add a five-story, 160,000 square foot biology building.
We will be innovative, impactful, and intentional to address our region’s public health disparities and the deep need to build a talented workforce and expand access to needed health care. Partnering with Eastern Virginia Medical School and Norfolk State University to establish the ONE School of Public Health is just the beginning. We will not be able to address the region’s significant health disparities without bold action, which is why we are exploring integration with EVMS to create a strong academic health science center that powers the region. . Each institution offers complementary strengths that together make us stronger. Integration will be a catalyst for change in Hampton Roads and across the Commonwealth. From our first day as strong collaborators and full partners, EVMS and ODU would become the largest healthcare program provider in Virginia.
The University and Board of Visitors are grateful for the unwavering support of campus, the community and the Commonwealth. ODU is the academic, cultural and research cornerstone of Hampton Roads. With ODU’s nearly $2 billion annual economic impact in the region, together we are helping to build a better future for all.
R. Bruce Bradley is president of the Board of Visitors of Old Dominion University. Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. is president of the ODU.