Week of 12/16/13
With GI Bill at Milestone, Veterans Push for Campus Services
(The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 13, 2013)
When Jose Roman enrolled at Old Dominion University in the spring of 2012, he thought he would find more services for veterans on the campus than he did.
Fresh off a deployment to Afghanistan-his final mission in a 22-year career with the Navy and Navy Reserve-Mr. Roman soon linked up with other veterans, and they pushed for a meeting space as well as an orientation just for students affiliated with the military. They succeeded on both fronts.
The Norfolk, Va., campus, he says, has become a more welcoming place for veterans. They now have their own faculty adviser, a small office, and a Student Veterans of America chapter, of which Mr. Roman, 40, is president. Last month the university held a conference for student veterans from around the state.
More and more colleges are recognizing veterans as a distinct demographic group, with specific needs. As those students become more visible, they are finding one another with greater ease, pressing for better support services, and raising the bar for what is expected of colleges.
"Five years ago, it was perfectly OK to say, 'Thank you for your service' and 'We're a veteran-friendly school,'" says Mr. Roman, who attended other institutions before Old Dominion, and has been working toward a bachelor's degree for more than a decade. In the past 12 months, he has seen more of an effort on his campus-and, to varying degrees, around the state-to articulate the kinds of services and policies that can help veterans succeed. (More)
Who pays the cost of flooding?
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 15, 2013)
THE NATIONAL Flood Insurance Program is facing rough seas ahead. The program is about $26 billion in debt after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012. Worse, a large percentage of property owners are heavily subsidized and do not pay full, risk-based rates. In addition, flood insurance is required only for certain property owners in high-risk flood zones.
No private insurance scheme would survive in a market where only the high risk buy insurance and do not pay risk-based rates.
The insurance program has survived for 45 years because it can borrow from the U.S. Treasury when flood payouts are more than the amount paid in by policyholders, paying back the loan with interest in years where there aren't many floods.
This worked pretty well until the 2005 hurricane season and the massive payouts after Katrina. Since then, much of the program's income has gone to cover interest on the debt, with little available to pay the debt down. The situation has resulted in calls for fiscal responsibility and the end of subsidies for all high-risk properties.
In this case, however, the "solution" has caused more problems. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which aims to phase out these subsidies, has created another set of angry constituents - property owners who are experiencing big increases in their flood insurance premiums. (More)
Photos | ODU, Norfolk State graduations
(Photos, The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 14, 2013)
On a rainy Saturday, Norfolk State and Old Dominion held commencement ceremonies. (More)
OEI board will function much like a local school board
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 16, 2013)
What is the Opportunity Educational Institution, also known as OEI?
A statewide agency, proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell and established this year by the General Assembly, to supervise and improve schools denied accreditation by the Virginia Department of Education.
Who runs it?
McDonnell appointed the executive director, Jason Sears, a former teacher and principal who also helped start a Chicago charter school. Sears handles the administrative aspects and doesn't have voting power.
The board members are:
State Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover)
State Sen. Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk)
Del. Richard Bell (R-Staunton)
Del. Daun Hester (D-Norfolk)
Lisa Goeas, vice president of political and grassroots for the National Federation of Independent Business
Julia Ciarlo Hammond, director of legislative affairs and public policy advisor for the governor
Doug Mesecar, founder of Adeptio Education, a consulting firm, and former U.S. Department of Education deputy chief of staff and assistant deputy secretary
John Nunnery, executive director of The Center for Educational Partnerships of Old Dominion University (More)
Commencement speaker urges graduates to be 'attentive' to world around them
(Misiericordia University, Dec. 14, 2013)
Misericordia University's 3rd annual Winter Commencement keynote speaker urged the 319 graduates and first graduates from the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program on Saturday, Dec. 14 to be "attentive'' to the world around them as they embark on their careers or enter graduate school.
With an advanced degree comes an enormous responsibility to society, according to Timothy Seibles, M.F.A., an American poet, and English and creative writing professor at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va. The attentiveness college graduates gain with their well-rounded educations enables them to process information and certain scenarios to determine what warrants their attention.
He also stressed the importance of language as a primary vehicle in developing awareness and what it can mean in terms of human potential and the re-shaping of consciousness in preparation for the future.
During the commencement ceremony, Misericordia University presented Seibles with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and remained in Dallas to teach high school English for 10 years. In 1990, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vt. (More)
Distressed sales in region undercut median home price
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 14, 2013)
November marked the fourth consecutive month the median price of existing homes sold in South Hampton Roads hasn't increased year-over-year.
During the preceding 17 months, the price slowly and steadily inched upward, but it has either decreased or been flat since August.
Last month, the price fell 5.5 percent to $188,000 from $199,000 a year earlier, according to data released Friday by Virginia Beach-based Real Estate Information Network, the region's multiple-listing service.
Fluctuations in median price largely depend on the share of sales that are distressed, said Vinod Agarwal, an economics professor at Old Dominion University. Distressed sales occur when a home is either lost to foreclosure or sold for less than what was owed on the mortgage.
Nearly 27 percent of November sales were distressed in Hampton Roads, the listing service reported - down from 28.4 percent the same month a year ago.
In a stable market, Agarwal said, less than 10 percent of sales should be distressed.
So far this year, foreclosures have sold for about 54 percent of the price of nondistressed homes, and homes that went through short sale sold for about 76 percent, he said.
"For this market to move up or get better, distressed sales activity has to decrease," Agarwal said. "The problem is, we don't know when that's going to happen." (More)
Tradition born abroad continues in Portsmouth
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 16, 2013)
The annual community Thanksgiving celebration sponsored by Bismarck and Marie-Pierre Myrick combined the new and the familiar; the young and the not so young. The Myricks have hosted the get-together since 2002, when Bismarck returned to his hometown from Africa, where he served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia and Lesotho.
Appointed by President Clinton, Myrick was named Liberia's Diplomat of the Year three times and received the highest honor given to a noncitizen in Lesotho. He represented the U.S. at the swearing in of South Africa's first democratic parliament, led by Nelson Mandela.
While in Africa, Myrick introduced his friends and co-workers to the customary Thanksgiving meal. From the beginning, the dinners included people of different ages, races and economic statuses who might not have met otherwise.
When he returned to the states, Bismarck continued the celebration at the Jeffrey Wilson apartment complex, where he grew up as a child. When the units were torn down, the Myricks moved the dinner to the neighborhood recreation center at 900 Elm Avenue. Currently a lecturer at Old Dominion University, Bismarck's annual meal continues to bring people together.
"We are delighted to do it," he said. (More)
Engaged on stage: Dancers take their next step
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 16, 2013)
Lito Garcia and Chelsea Bee kept pace with four other couples as they performed a short ballroom dance as part of the Christmas party scene from "The Nutcracker" on Sunday afternoon.
After twirling his partner one last time, Garcia did not walk her off stage as he had in the performance on Saturday.
Instead, he dropped to one knee and held up a small black box that she spotted when she turned around.
Bee covered her open mouth with her left hand and someone yelled from the audience, "Say yes!"
She bobbed her head emphatically, and after he put the ring on her finger, the newly engaged couple exchanged a kiss.
It was a brief pause in Sunday's performance of "Holiday Dreams" by the Copeland Mills School of the Arts, but it was a moment four months in the making. ...
Bee, now 23, is nearly finished getting her degree in dance education at Old Dominion University. Garcia, 29, is an anesthesia tech at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. (More)
Gift shop emphasizes "home-grown kind of stuff"
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 13, 2013)
The past and present have collided for Louise Franklin and she couldn't be happier.
Franklin opened her store, Past & Present Gifts and Home Décor, on Nov. 15. She owns it with her husband, Adair, and manages it with her daughter, Brittney, 29.
Many years ago, Franklin and her sister frequented a store in Houston by the same name, which they both loved.
Franklin tried her hand at retail a decade ago with a seasonal garden store at MacArthur Center .
"That gave me taste of it," she said.
In the meantime, she worked as a real estate agent and a photographer, all the while dreaming of opening another shop when the time was right.
Originally from Oklahoma, the Franklin family also includes daughter Brayden Emerick, a 10th-grade English teacher at Hickory High School, sons Austin, a student at Old Dominion University, and Alex, a senior at Great Bridge High, and grandchildren Jack and Shelby Emerick. (More)
Dahlgren community honors Gary Wagner
(DCMilitary, Dec. 13, 2013)
The Dahlgren community honored Gary Wagner, public affairs officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, for 38 years of service at his retirement ceremony Dec. 6 at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus. The ceremony charted a career that began in 1975, when Wagner began an internship program at the then-Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dahlgren as a college student.
Since then, Wagner has lent his considerable talents to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Naval Space Command, Naval Network and Space Operations Command, and finally, NSASP. ...
Gloria Savage-Early, site director for Old Dominion University at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus, met Wagner at a King George Chamber of Commerce meeting soon after accepting her position. "Immediately, I was impressed with him," she recalled. "He has such a calmness about him. Everybody talked about that because you don't have to be around him a long time to experience it. Because I was new and didn't know a lot of people, he made me feel so welcome, just meeting him. He expressed to me what this area is all about: gentleness and kindness toward people." (More)
McDonnell proposes $183M increase for higher ed
(The Virginian-Pilot/Associated Press, Dec. 12, 2013)
Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing more than $183 million in increased state funding over the next two-year budget cycle for higher education.
The governor announced the proposals on Wednesday.
Most of the increase will go directly to higher education institutions for both base operations, financial aid and performance awards for meeting certain benchmarks.
The proposals also include funding for tuition assistance grants, as well as support for workforce development programs and higher education consortiums.
McDonnell also is proposing funding for research at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University. (More)
ODU RANKS #1 IN VIRGINIA FOR ONLINE PROGRAMS
(The Mace&Crown, Dec. 11, 2013)
Once again Old Dominion University in has proved itself as a major leader in online education programs. AffordableCollegesOnline.org recently ranked Old Dominion the number one four-year accredited online college in Virginia.
"Going back to the early 1990s, Old Dominion University was a pioneer in distance learning and serving the educational needs of communities across Virginia. So it's no surprise that the university remains a leader in online education today," Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick said. "We're proud to lead Virginia, and the nation, in excellent and affordable online learning."
AC Online, and national and regional accrediting bodies, based the rankings on two core elements-quality and cost. The rankings were supported by data sources including the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Carnegie Classifications and Payscale.com.
"Offering students great online programs is only half the battle," said Schuessler. "The colleges on our list offer students quality, flexibility and affordability."
Old Dominion University, with an enrollment of 21,958, offers over 60 online degree and certification programs in a multitude of disciplines with tuition and fees averaging $6,566 a semester.
The Mace & Crown reported in October an annual review by GetEducated.com recognizing four of these programs with a "Best Buy" ranking. Over 3800 accredited online degree programs were reviewed to compile a list of 36 programs in each discipline. Three undergraduate degree programs and one graduate program from ODU made the list. (More)
Virginia Tech climbs research spending list
(The Roanoke Times, Dec. 12, 2013)
Virginia Tech has risen to its highest spot ever in the National Science Foundation ranking of spending at research institutions and is the state's only research university listed in the top 50.
Tech's 2013 ranking increased to 40 - one point up from last year's ranking - by increasing its research expenditures by about $4 million to $454,417,000.
The rankings are based on the previous year's spending, so the 2013 list is based on figures from 2012. Some of the grants are multi-year projects, which may have been awarded in previous years, according to the survey. ...
Tech is Virginia's highest ranked research university. The University of Virginia came in 59th with about $383 million in spending. No other state school, either public or private, cracked the top 100, according to the survey.
Virginia Commonwealth University ($201 million) and Old Dominion University ($105 million) - both public institutions - were ranked 101st and 145th, respectively. The private Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg was ranked 489th in the National Science Foundation survey, with about $38 million in sponsored research. (More)
Virginia schools should look southward
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 12, 2013)
By Vivian J. Paige
Confession: I never was taught how to diagram a sentence.
Of course, that was in the prehistoric days of education, where the emphasis was on reading, writing and arithmetic. Those three basic skills were the foundation of everything else and tightly woven into the public school education I received.
Perhaps no skill has proved more valuable to me than reading. The world outside my childhood neighborhood expanded significantly because books could take me places that I'd never see and into the lives of people I would never meet.
We were taught not just how to spell words but to understand their meanings and their use. A dictionary was a constant companion, to look up new words that I ran across in the four or five books I read each week. My love for reading and learning hasn't diminished all these years later.
I have to admit to being surprised the first time a student of mine at Old Dominion University asked me what a word meant. I've since learned that such a question is not unusual; as I've written before, Johnny can read, but can Johnny comprehend what he just read? ...
Vivian J. Paige writes about local politics and other topics at blog.vivianpaige.com. She teaches accounting at Old Dominion University. Email: email@example.com. (More)
ODU president elected chairman of Virginia Space Grant Consortium
(The Daily Press, Dec. 11, 2013)
Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick was elected chairman by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium board of directors.
He succeeds Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and is the consortium's fifth board chairman, according to an ODU news release.
Broderick, who has served as ODU president since 2008, will lead the board of the 14-member coalition of Virginia universities, NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, state agencies and other affiliates with a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, workforce development and research, particularly in NASA-relevant fields.
The consortium was selected as a National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program by NASA in 1989. Since 1990, the university has been the host institution at the ODU Peninsula Higher Education Center.
The consortium has placed more than 4,500 STEM students in paid internships with government and industry, provided professional development programs for more than 25,000 educators and offered STEM enrichment programs for thousands of students in Virginia and nationally.
Enrichment programs -- such as Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars for high school juniors and Virginia Space Coast Scholars for high school sophomores -- are open to students statewide and free of charge. VSGC also conducts the Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship program, which serves as a clearinghouse for paid undergraduate industry internships statewide. (More)
ODU president elected Va. Space Grant chairman
(The Virginian-Pilot/Associated Press, Dec. 11, 2013)
Old Dominion University President John Broderick has been elected chairman of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium's board of directors.
He succeeds Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and is the consortium's fifth board chairman.
The consortium is a coalition of Virginia universities, NASA facilities in Virginia and state agencies. The consortium acts as an umbrella organization that coordinates and develops aerospace-related and high technology educational and research efforts throughout the state.
The consortium is located at the ODU Peninsula Higher Education Center. (More)
U.Va. financial aid program cutbacks fuel debate
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 11, 2013)
They gathered, nearly 60 strong, at the University of Virginia's landmark Rotunda last month.
While the university's Board of Visitors deliberated within, students stood silently outside, many dressed in black. Some had sealed their mouths with duct tape inscribed with a message: "Access denied."
They weren't complaining about accessibility to the board meeting, which they later entered. They were protesting the board's decision over the summer to trim back the expansive AccessUVa financial-aid program.
For nearly a decade, the university's neediest students, who make up about 9 percent of U.Va. undergraduates, received enough funding so they could graduate without debt. Future students, however, will be required to take out loans, which they'll have to repay. ...
Patrick Hogan, U.Va.'s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the cuts are crucial to ensuring the program's future.
They've been "greatly exaggerated to the point where people are saying the financial-aid program has been decimated," Hogan said. "I don't think there's been an appreciation of just how strong this program continues to be. Nobody's putting in the kind of institutional resources that we are." ...
But the larger goal was to reach any student whose family needed help paying its bill. So the program also encompasses middle-income students, some with family incomes above $100,000.
It now helps about 4,840 students - or nearly one-third of all undergraduates. Of the students in the program, about 27 percent - or 1,310 - have been eligible for the no-loan promise. Even after the change, Hogan said, the university will fulfill its pledge to cover every dollar that any family can't afford, either by grants or loans.
"This was the option that we thought was the fairest to all of our students," said Hogan, an Old Dominion University graduate who joined U.Va. a year ago after a career in accounting and finance. "That's how we arrived at our decision." (More)
Target date now 2016 for ODU hoops practice facility
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 11, 2013)
No Zumba class or badminton match has held up a basketball practice at Old Dominion.
The men's and women's teams have both the practice gym at the athletic administration building and the court at the Constant Center available. No other athletic teams use the facilities.
While court availability is not a problem, ODU continues raising money to build a new practice facility that symbolizes its commitment to keeping up with the competition in its move to Conference USA.
Preliminary plans for the facility, expected to cost between $6 million and $8 million, were unveiled in December 2011 and called for a possible completion date of 2014.
Two years later, 2016 is the new target date.
ODU has about $5 million in pledges and commitments and another $1.5 million in proposals that it is seeking to close, according to senior associate athletic director Mark Benson, who heads the fundraising arm of the school.
"We also have large number of prospects we are yet to talk to," he said.
The goal is to have $8 million in hand by the end of the fiscal year in June. That would put the facility on track for a fall 2016 opening. (More)
Johns Hopkins again tops in university research spending
(The Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2013)
It is customary in higher education to dismiss rankings as misleading and arbitrary, quantifying things that don't much matter about colleges and universities.
But one list of undisputed significance is compiled each year by the National Science Foundation: the top institutions ranked by total research spending. Such money supports laboratories, attracts top faculty and graduate students and gives many undergraduates a chance to learn through experimentation.
On this list, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is the perennial and unchallenged national leader. New data from NSF show that Hopkins spent $2.1 billion on research and development in the fiscal year that ended in 2012. The University of Michigan ranked second, spending $1.3 billion. ...
Here are other schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District that placed in the top 200 in R&D spending: ...
●Old Dominion University ($105 million, 145th); (More)
Foodbanks gearing up for rising tide of hungry mouths
(The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 10, 2013)
The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore doesn't like it when business goes up, but recently the region's largest supplier for charity agencies has seen a troubling boom.
The number of people served by the Foodbank the past several months has jumped 24 percent from the same period last year.
Other Hampton Roads agencies have similar stories and say they are experiencing growing demand for food.
The Foodbank supplies fresh produce, meat and other food through more than 400 partner agencies and programs in South Hampton Roads, Western Tidewater and the Eastern Shore.
Cash and food donations have not kept up with demand at the Foodbank and other charities.
Jo-Anne Roisen, director of Oasis Social Ministry, the largest relief organization in Portsmouth, said officials don't know exactly why demand has grown. But charity workers and coordinators point to several factors:
-- A slow economic recovery in the region that has many people under- or unemployed.
-- Sequestration-related cuts that have decreased defense spending vital to the region. An Old Dominion University study this year estimated the area would lose about 12,000 jobs and $2 billion due to the decreased spending. (More)