Week of 5/27/14
ODU earns first NCAA baseball tourney bid since 2000
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 27, 2014)
Staring at a TV for most of an hour, Old Dominion baseball coach Chris Finwood shifted his feet again and sighed.
"We haven't done anything easy all year," Finwood said. "It's gonna come down to the last (bracket). That'll be fitting."
Surrounded by ODU players and fans at an NCAA tournament bracket party Monday at University Pizza near campus, Finwood saw his prediction almost come true.
The Monarchs were finally included in the next-to-last bracket revealed on ESPNU, securing their first NCAA bid since 2000.
Fittingly as well, the eruption of joy that met the appearance of "Old Dominion" on the screen sounded like 14 years of bottled-up emotion.
"For Chris to do this in three years is amazing," said athletic director Wood Selig, who hired Finwood at Western Kentucky and then again at ODU in 2011.
Quizzed next about ODU's ticket allotment for its assigned regional that begins Friday on South Carolina's campus in Columbia, Selig was stumped.
"I don't know," he said. "We've got a lot to learn on this baseball." (More)
Under-the-radar incentives eroding port's bottom line
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 27, 2014)
State Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne made headlines in January when he blasted the Virginia Port Authority's board, saying that he'd lost faith in its financial projections, which lacked all credibility.
His displeasure, however, was fueled by something that he never mentioned publicly.
Earlier that morning, top board members told Layne they'd just discovered something that helped explain why the port was losing money even as cargo volume soared. ...
James Koch, an Old Dominion University economist hired by the state as a consultant during the port privatization review, said that of all the bold policy initiatives undertaken by former Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration, its efforts to overhaul the port may have come the closest to hitting the mark.
The port's ramping up of cargo volumes would be like a big department store "putting stuff up for sale - but unprofitably," he said. (More)
Stones. Beatles. Choose a side.
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 27, 2014)
The question is simple.
The answer can either be a bridge or a wall between you and the person asking it.
Stones or Beatles?
Don't try to dodge it. Don't say you like both equally. In your heart, you stand with either Mick and Keith or Paul and John. That's just the way it is.
Sure, America's divided. That comes as no surprise to anyone with a TV. Or a computer. Or a neighbor.
But what compels us to choose sides for something as superficial as entertainment? ...
"There's just something about music that's all about our social connections," says Tim J. Anderson. "We like to be with our tribe."
Anderson, an Old Dominion University professor, has written articles and books on the cultural significance of music. He says the foundation for these choices is laid when we're young and forming our identity.
Maybe. That kind of thinking certainly works when you compare the Stones to the Beatles. One was a group of bad boys who sang about sex without subtlety. The other was one of the first boy bands.
"(The Beatles) started out dressing the same. They had the same haircut. They were marketed to girls," Anderson says. "The Stones were filthy." (More)
Colleges where our veterans succeed
(Examiner.com, May 26, 2014)
Despite the very real challenges they face transitioning to civilian life, veterans are putting up some amazing college completion numbers. In fact, they are earning degrees at rates that aren't very different from the rates of traditional students who attend college full-time and without any interruptions.
And most are completing in about the same time as their peers, according to a report released by the Student Veterans of America (SVA), the National Student Clearinghouse, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Americans have invested substantial dollars in giving our veterans an opportunity to further their education and this report shows many positive signs that they are doing just that," Wayne Robinson, SVA president and CEO said in a statement. "The majority of student veterans accessing their GI Bill benefits are completing degrees and showing unparalleled determination to do so, despite many unique barriers." ...
Coming from a somewhat different direction, the Military Times probes everything from the availability of a veterans office to academic support and graduation rates. Their top ten ranking is as follows:
University of Nebraska Omaha
University of South Florida
University of the Incarnate Word
Western Kentucky University
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Florida State University
Local schools earning a spot on the Best for Vets list include Old Dominion University (30), George Washington University (61), and Towson University (85). (More)
The salvation diet
(Medievalists.net, May 25, 2014)
By Martha Daas
For people in the Middle Ages, Lent was a time of both physical fasting and spiritual renewal. In her paper, 'The Salvation Diet', Martha Daas examines how medieval people endured the 40 days of fasting.
Lent refers to a major religious observance for medieval Christians - it would begin each spring on Ash Wednesday, roughly six weeks before Easter. Believers were to observe certain fasting rules, abstain from pleasure and vice, and instead focus on prayer and penance.
Daas began her talk, given at the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, by noting that the period of Lent was considered a long and dreary time - besides restrictions on food, one also had to abstain from sex. It was meant to be a time of rejection of all that is pleasurable. Those caught breaking the Lenten fast might endure severe punishments, such as whippings or having their teeth pulled.
The rules around fasting from certain foods was associated with the idea the some types of food were also bad for your temperament, and could be morally as well as physically dangerous. For example, red meat was believed to overheat a person, and could lead them to gluttony or lust. Therefore the restrictions on certain foods was meant in a way to clean a person's body spiritually as well as physically..
Martha Daas is an Associate Professor at Old Dominion University. Click here to visit her university website. (More)
Author takes on his own story
(The Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg), May 25, 2014)
THE FIRST STAB at autobiography from Blake Bailey-"The Splendid Things We Planned," the story of two very similar brothers and the very different paths they traveled-took its author 11 years to complete.
"The most challenging part of writing my memoir," said Bailey, 50 and the prize-winning biographer of such 20th-century literary figures as Richard Yates, John Cheever and Charles Jackson, in an email interview, "was finding a balance between my brother's story and mine-they're related, after all, and I couldn't get away with placing the entire narrative burden on Scott, as I did in early drafts.
"Also finding the right tone-a sort of humorous detachment that my brother, a funny guy, would have appreciated, I think.
"The sad parts are sad without any help from me."* The tragicomic "Splendid" traces the author's relationship with his alcoholic, self-destructive older brother from their toddler years to middle age, a story that culminates in rough sledding at one particularly memorable family Christmas.
"I'd like my readers to finish the book with a sense that difficult people, like my brother, are worth loving," said Bailey, "even if you ultimately can't save them."
Bailey, a resident of the Tidewater region, where he's a creative writing professor at Old Dominion University, succeeds at finding the perfect voice with which to tell his story, just the right mix of honesty, humor, peevishness and self-deprecation. (More)
The Brown Bag w/ Wes Bellamy & Sarad Davenport
(Blog Talk Radio, May 25, 2014)
Wes Bellamy's main focus is improving the lives of those who lack resources and positive role models in their lives. Originally from Atlanta, GA Wes moved to Charlottesville, VA in September of 2009 after graduating from S.C. State University; he began his career at the National Ground Intelligence Center. Bellamy now teaches computer science and African American Studies at Albemarle High School, and is studying at Virginia State University to gain a Master's Degree in Education Administration. ...
Sarad Davenport serves as the Director of the City of Promise in Charlottesville, Virginia where he and team of neighbors, officials, and partners are building a cradle-to-college-and-career pathway for young people. Most recently, Davenport worked for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in Washington, DC where he taught on team seeking to build a culture of college going in under-resourced communities. Davenport is an ordained Baptist minister and studied Practical Theology at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He earned a B.S. degree in Communications and a minor in English from Old Dominion University in 2001. After graduation, Sarad delved into a career in media and educational technology. (More)
Church land: Portsmouth basks in places of worship
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 25, 2014)
There's a church on every corner here.
Or so people say.
Is it true?
Well, not exactly. But it's not that far off. Portsmouth has more places of worship per capita than any other city in South Hampton Roads, according to a Virginian-Pilot analysis of tax assessor data.
That doesn't include sanctuaries that rent space in places that aren't tax-exempt. You'll find houses of prayer in majestic temples or in storefronts that were once 7-Elevens. The greatest concentration is in the heart of the city, including one that counts the father of a president as a former pastor.
"That tells you, if you want to go to heaven, move to Portsmouth," local historian Dean Burgess joked. ...
Religion professors also say that older communities such as Portsmouth - and particularly black communities - are less likely to have "megachurches." Nearly 54 percent of the city's residents are black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"You're going to have little, local community churches," said Jim Van Dore, a religion lecturer at Old Dominion University.
Portsmouth's racial makeup contributes in another way: Gallup research shows that blacks are much more likely to attend church than whites, said Craig Wansink, chair of the religious studies department at Virginia Wesleyan College. (More)
Cynthia W. Swaine
(Obituary, The Virginian-Pilot, May 22, 2014)
Cynthia Wright Swaine, 69, of Norfolk, Virginia, left this life on May 18, 2014 in her home after a brief illness. Born to Mabel and Arthur Wright in Elkhart, Indiana, on July 30, 1944, she is survived by her sister Gwen Gillett and husband Dan of Frederick, MD, sister Jean Kimes and husband Robert of Elkhart, IN, niece Joan Gillett and husband Geoff as well as many nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces, and dear friends. She was predeceased by her sister Mildred Cook.
In recent years, Cynthia discovered her passion: fine art painting. In 2013, she exhibited works in four art shows locally and sold numerous paintings. Cynthia freely shared a daily art blog called "My Art Goes Out to You" starting in 2011 to a coast-to-coast following. She was an avid supporter of the arts in the Norfolk area and enjoyed traveling in Europe.
Cynthia earned her baccalaureate degree from Goshen College, her masters in education and her masters in library science, both from Indiana University, Bloomington. She taught in the elementary schools of Elkhart, Indiana, from 1966 to 1972.
She had a long and storied career in academic librarianship at Old Dominion University from 1975 until 2010. She taught thousands of students and faculty members in her roles as reference and research librarian and instruction services librarian. Accolades included Librarian of the Year awards and a listing in Who's Who in Library and Information Services. Web-based tutorials and tools she developed were featured in books and linked from websites in the U.S. and elsewhere. She was the co-designer of a course called Research in the Information Age, which she taught through the College of Arts and Letters. She edited the newsletter "Library Update" for thirty years.
She was a member of Beta Phi Mu, the American Library Association, and the Virginia Library Association for most of her career. After retirement, she became a member of the Old Dominion University Faculty Emeriti Association. (More)
Check out ODU's Q2 forecast for Hampton Roads retail, tourism, jobs and housing
(The Daily Press, May 22, 2014)
Sequestration and the uncertainty it fuels continued to impact the Hampton Roads economy in the first quarter, according to the Old Dominion University's latest economic report.
In the first quarter from 2013 to 2014, the region's hotel revenues dropped 1.8 percent while taxable sales only increased by 1.7 percent, according to the report. Yet, new car and truck registrations increased by 2.6 percent.
In the second quarter, Vinod Agarwal, director of the ODU economic forecasting project, predicts retail sales to improve by 2.2 percent with hotel revenues increasing 3.2 percent with anticipated growth in the national economy fueling travel.
The region's market for existing homes "basically stalled" in the first four months of the year, Agarwal writes in the report. Permits for single-family homes dropped 14.1 percent and their value declined by 14.8 percent in the first quarter. The value of a home permit is expected to drop by 9.7 percent in the second quarter
While existing home sales fell 6 percent in the first four months of the year, the decline was because of an 18 percent drop in bank-owned sales or short sales.
Even so, Agarwal said the housing market, which is at a healthy inventory level, will continue to have a steady volume of non-distressed homes in the second quarter. The large proportion of distressed properties on the market, a "lack of substantial job growth" and strict home loan requirements will mean only a modest recovery in home prices in the second quarter. The median price of existing homes through April declined by 0.5 percent. (More)
Virginia Beach team rocks ocean science bowl
(The Virginian-Pilot, May 22, 2014)
A team from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School just returned from Seattle, where they finished fourth in the nation at the 17th annual finals of the National Ocean Science Bowl - the best a Virginia school has ever done in the 17-year event.
Bishop Sullivan won the right to represent the Virginia region when it won the Blue Crab Bowl in February at Old Dominion University.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Old Dominion University are co-hosts for the Virginia Regional Competition in a partnership dating back to the first ocean science bowl in 1998.
The Bishop Sullivan team also finished first in an ocean policy competition that was part of the national finals.
The University of Washington hosted the National Ocean Science Bowl finals, which was run by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D.C.
Twenty-two regional winners from around the country competed.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria won the Chesapeake Bay Bowl, represented a multi-state region and finished seventh at the national competition.
William H. Dunn is the science department chair and the National Ocean Science Bowl coach at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School. (More)
Walker ready to chart new course as AD
(The Chronicle (Winston-Salem, NC), May 21, 2014)
Newly-appointed Winston-Salem State Athletic Director Tonia Walker has hit the ground running. The 43-year-old Hampton University alumna has spent her career preparing for this moment, having served in various positions within the CIAA and as the right-hand woman of several former WSSU ADs.
"For the last 14 years, I have worked hard to push the vision of the three athletic directors for whom I've worked, and I've learned an incredible amount about college athletics from those three athletic directors. I think now is my time to put my stamp on the program," said the mother of two. "Being that person that is in charge of the program, it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I am up for the challenge."
Walker, who was first recruited to the university in August 2000 as assistant director and head volleyball coach under then-AD Anne Little, succeeds Bill Hayes, a former WSSU football coach who returned to the university in 2010 and shepherded it through its tumultuous transition back to Division II athletics and the CIAA after a brief stint as a member of the Division I MEAC. Walker has led the department in an interim capacity since Hayes announced his retirement earlier this year. ...
Among Walker's chief objectives are sharpening the focus on academics by raising GPAs and increasing graduation and retention rates among student-athletes.
"Much of what we do will be based on a foundation of relationships; building relationships with faculty and administrators is going to be key," said Walker, who also holds a master's in sports management from Old Dominion University. "We're going to put the onus on student-athletes and holding them accountable ... so that they can benefit from their time here academically." (More)
Graduateprograms.com Announces the Spring 2014 Graduate School Rankings
(Streetinsider.com/PRWeb, May 21, 2014)
Where to go to graduate school? It can be an exhilarating yet complex, decision for any young adult. The choices are seemingly endless and the weight of the final determination can be overwhelming. But what if a website made this decision much easier?
Graduate Programs recognizes that need and is delighted to announce the second ever Top Graduate Programs in America. It's a comprehensive list of the best graduate programs in the country, based solely on ratings and reviews posted on graduateprograms.com. When the time comes to choose between graduate programs, Graduate Programs is here to help.
Data analysis based on actual experience, this extensive list of programs was compiled using information submitted by current and recent grad students between Sept. 1, 2012 and April 15, 2014. The rankings encompass reviews posted by more than 60,000 students participating in over 1,500 graduate programs. Ratings are based on a 10-star system (with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best).
For a complete list, please visit http://www.graduateprograms.com/graduate-school-rankings.
The top graduate programs in the country are: ...
Counselor Education: Old Dominion University (9.4 stars) (More)
Maglev deal that fell short in Virginia Beach, floats in Orlando
(Inside Business, May 21, 2014)
Florida, not Virginia, may now be the first in the country with a fully operational maglev train.
The same firm that recently - and unsuccessfully - pitched magnetic-levitation technology to the city of Virginia Beach this year just got the go-ahead from transportation officials in the Sunshine State.
The Florida Department of Transportation Monday awarded American Maglev Technology Inc. the opportunity to lease rights of way along Orlando's International Drive from Orlando International Airport to the Orange County Convention Center.
"That's a 15-mile stretch," said Tony Morris, CEO of Georgia-based AMT. "It's going to be our proving ground."
Morris was a key player in the preliminary talks to launch a maglev system from Newtown Road to the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach earlier this year before the deal ultimately through.
While city officials said they were impressed with AMT's $344 million cost estimate for the project - a third of the cost of conventional light rail - they were wary after maglev's early debut in Hampton Roads.
Just 15 years prior, AMT entered into a deal with Old Dominion University to construct an on-campus student transportation link less than one mile in length.
After depleting a $14 million budget, the technology failed to operate and the train came to a full-friction stop on top of the rail and damaged much of the system.
"The track record just isn't there for maglev right now," said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
And the state apparently agrees.
Late last month, the commonwealth announced it would foot $155 million of the total bill to extend mass transit to Town Center in Virginia Beach. That deal, though, hinges on the city's promise to disregard alternative technologies such as magnetic levitation. (More)
We'll find a way
(Editorial, The Daily Press, May 19, 2014)
Recent economic projections present us with another opportunity for a glass half-full, half-empty translation of what the future holds for Hampton Roads.
Vinod Agarwal, the director of ODU's economic forecasting team, is confident the economy is slowly moving in the right direction. Dr. Agarwal projects a growth rate of 2.2 percent, noting that the private sector added 9,050 jobs from 2012 to 2013 and Defense Department spending in the region should increase.
That's good news. Glass half-full? Certainly.
Other elements also show promising signs.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, a D.C.-based organization focused on education policies and reform, has good news, too. The national high school graduation rate for 2011-12 was almost 80 percent for the first time in history.
In Virginia, the rate was even higher at 83 percent. In the commonwealth, those gains in dropout reductions will translate to an increase in real lifetime earning of nearly $900 million. Consider that, according to the Alliance, nearly 10,000 Hampton Roads students dropped out of the Class of 2010 and it's clear we've come a long way.
Our sights are set even higher with concentration on science, technology, engineering and mathematics - disciplines critical the workforce of the future. The STEAM Academy at Fort Monroe is slated to accept its first freshman and sophomore classes in the fall of 2015. It can't happen soon enough. (More)
Fractions made fun
(Caribseek (St. Kitts & Nevis), May 19, 2014)
The Ministry of Education has partnered with Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia, United States to impart in teachers a fun way of teaching fractions to Kindergarten to grade three children through a teleconference session entitled Teaching Fractions Using Manipulatives.
In mathematics, a manipulative is an object designed to help a student to recognize a mathematical concept by altering it, in this case fractions. Using manipulatives will allow the students to connect mathematical ideas and symbols to physical objects, thus promoting better understanding.
Children would be able to recognize and name fractional amounts, demonstrate equivalent fractions using common items as concrete examples and understand the definition of a fraction.
The workshop was aimed at broadening teacher's ideas about how to get children more involved in fraction lessons as well as share what they have learnt to others.
The first session involved focusing on teaching at the K-3 level using manipulatives with fraction tiles, charts and blocks. The second was teaching addition and subtraction using manipulatives.
Math Coordinator Linda Moving stated that at the end of the workshop teachers should be better able to implement this strategy in their classrooms.
"Whatever is learnt here is expected to be imparted to your schools and to be shared with other teachers along the way and with the hopes that we can improve the children's ability in factions." (More)
Housing market improving despite dismal sales numbers
(The Daily Press, May 16, 2014)
The bad news? Hampton Roads home sales have been down for four consecutive months compared to last year. The good news? Foreclosures and short sales continue to leave the market.
"Overall, the numbers appear to be bad but most of the decreases are due to a reduction in distressed sales," said economist Vinod Agarwal with Old Dominion University.
Although local real estate agents had expected 2014 to be slightly better for home sales than 2013, Hampton Roads has experienced a 6.4 percent decline in sales in January through April compared to the same time last year, according to the latest Hampton Roads based-Real Estate Information Network report. April saw a 2.5 percent drop compared to a year earlier.
Taking a closer look, short sales and bank-owned sales decreased by 18.2 percent, or from 1,657 in the first four months of 2013 to 1,356 the same time this year, he said. Meanwhile, sales of non-distressed properties remained flat at 3,709 in 2013 and 3,690 in 2014 during the same period. (More)
Virginia College and University Presidents Among Highest Paid
(Virginia Public Radio, May 20, 2014)
There were a few surprises in this year's survey of college presidents' pay. The Chronicle of Higher Education surveyed more than 250 schools and found Virginia executives faring well.
Eight presidents of public universities got more than a million dollars in total compensation - none of them here in Virginia, but several of our top college officials exceeded the median, about $447,000. Among them the presidents of Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth, ODU and UVA. William and Mary's chief executive came close at $420,000. Few of the top jobs on campus belonged to women, but reporter Jonah Newman says overall they're paid well.
"Fewer than one in five of the public college presidents were women, so less than 20%, but what was a little bit surprising was that women, on average, made slightly more than men did." (More)
Bursts of exercise may help blood-sugar control
(The Globe & Mail (Canada), May 19, 2014)
Short bursts of intense exercise before meals may help control blood-sugar spikes better than one longer, less intense session, suggests a new small study.
Researchers say these "exercise snacks" may be an effective way to improve blood-sugar control among people with insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
"Exercise spread across the day reduces sedentary time, and spread before meals reduces blood-glucose spikes after meals," said lead author Monique Francois.
"Exercise on top of an active lifestyle needs to be more intense than we normally do when walking or moving around," Francois, from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, added. ...
Sheri Colberg-Ochs said the study's findings are "interesting ... but not that surprising."
Colberg-Ochs studies diabetes and exercise at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. She wasn't involved with the new research.
"My main issue with high-intensity intervals like that is that many people with diabetes (not just prediabetes, or insulin resistance) really aren't in any physical shape to undertake that type of exercise, and many of them have undiagnosed (or diagnosed) cardiovascular problems that may make such exercise unsafe for them to undertake as well," she said. (More)