Old Dominion University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., announced plans for a school of data science and an expanded baseball facility during his first state of the university address, which he delivered Friday at Chartway Arena.
The University is about to submit a proposal to the Virginia State Board of Higher Education regarding the School of Data Science, he said.
Through partnerships with Jefferson Lab and NASA Langley, researchers at these national labs will have ODU professor status. Additionally, ODU faculty and students will have privileged access to these national laboratory collaborations and facilities.
“This is truly a win-win situation for ODU and our partners,” said Chairman Hemphill.
The ballpark project exists thanks to the generosity of several donors, including Dennis Ellmer, President and CEO of Priority Automotive, who donated $2.5 million.
“ODU is honored to have the expanded facility known as the Ellmer Family Baseball Complex,” said Chairman Hemphill. (See related story.)
In a separate announcement, the head of ODU said the University was in the first phase of a multi-year effort to increase stipend levels for graduate assistants. Master’s students in teaching assistantships will receive $15,000 — a boost of $5,000 — to support the institution’s teaching and research mission.
Stipends for doctoral students will increase from $15,000 to $20,000, effective immediately, President Hemphill said.
Other accomplishments he highlighted in the past year include ODU’s designation in December 2021 as an R1 research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This has placed ODU among the top research institutions in the country.
“This is a truly significant achievement that will forever change the future possibilities for our institution and our students,” said President Hemphill.
But his vision is even grander.
“We are truly committed to advancing among our R1 counterparts with a bold and aggressive program across all research areas, with a particular focus on maritime, coastal resilience, offshore wind energy, data science, cybersecurity, autonomous systems and healthcare.”
On the healthcare front, President Hemphill cited the University’s expanded work with Eastern Virginia Medical School and extensive collaboration with Sentara Healthcare and other partners. Since the summer of 2021, the entities have come together to explore the creation of an academic health science center to address the health disparities facing the region and its people, President Hemphill said.
“A strategic integration between EVMS and ODU would result in an academic health sciences center that offers the most academic programs and the largest number of health science enrollments in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” a- he declared.
The proposed integration would strengthen and increase the labor pipeline in Hampton Roads, he said, creating a $4.9 billion economic impact for Virginia.
Highlighting other ongoing initiatives, President Hemphill informed the audience of the construction of what he called “state-of-the-art facilities that create an unparalleled learning environment”.
The Health Sciences Building, a $76 million+ capital project, is taking shape at 41st Street and Monarch Way and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023. The three-story building will house the School of Dental Hygiene, School of Rehabilitation Sciences and School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences.
During the last legislative session, the University secured $188 million in project funding for a new biology building. With more than 160,000 square feet over five floors, it is expected to be ready in 2026, replacing the Mills Godwin Life Sciences Building.
As for athletics, Chairman Hemphill spoke of the “new era” Old Dominion entered in July this year when they joined the Sun Belt Conference.
“For ODU, the conference movement has always been about providing the best experience for our student-athletes as well as our fans,” he said. “We are honored to join the Sun Belt and look forward to much collaboration and competition during our inaugural season and beyond.”
President Hemphill also:
- Recognition of nearly 300 students, faculty and staff for being part of 12 groups that developed a five-year strategic plan for the University. The final plan will be presented to the Board of Visitors in December, he said.
- Commended ODU’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center for 25 years as an academic center of excellence in modeling and simulation to support critical research related to the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Cited the School of Cybersecurity for its recent designation as a National Security Agency Cyber Defense Center of Academic Excellence.
- Congratulations to 13 cybersecurity students who have been inducted into ODU’s Cyber Leaders program.
- Applauded the work of two working groups: ODU Online and Branding, Marketing and Communication. Their recommendations, he said, will come to life under the leadership of two vice presidents, Nina Rodriguez Gonser in digital learning and Jaime Hunt in academic communication.
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