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ODU's Board of Visitors Formally Approves Name Change for Strome College of Business

Mark and Tammy Strome at there home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.Mark and Tammy Strome

Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors has formally approved the change of name of its business school to the Strome College of Business and its new entrepreneurial center to the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, in recognition of an $11 million donation by Mark and Tammy Strome to the university in support of a new, multipronged program to nurture business entrepreneurs.

Mark Strome, a 1978 ODU graduate in civil engineering, is chief investment officer for the Strome Group and Strome Investment Management, L.P., based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The Strome Family Foundation, administered by Mark and Tammy Strome, invested in the creation of a university-wide entrepreneurial ecosystem, covering academics, student entrepreneurs and economic development.

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick said the Strome Family Foundation gift will "inspire a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem at the university. These future entrepreneurs will create great economic and social value in Hampton Roads and beyond. "

The name change to the Strome College of Business was approved unanimously by the Board of Visitors at its spring meeting Thursday, June 12.

In a visit to Old Dominion in April, Mark Strome said entrepreneurship can create a "virtuous circle," where benefactors, a great educational system, and financing for entrepreneurs can together spark one successful business startup after another.

"You want to create that virtuous circle in this area," Strome said. "Entrepreneurs are the people who solve the problems of the world, and that is going to continue."

The Strome College of Business is undergoing a transformation, with entrepreneurship being incorporated into many facets of the curriculum, and the creation of new offerings such as ODU's completely online M.B.A. program.

Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics and director of the Economic Forecasting Project at ODU, will be interim dean for the next 12 months after Gil Yochum retires July 1. Agarwal stressed that the immense and diverse business expertise of the Strome College of Business is a tremendous asset to the region, and he wants to better showcase what the college can do to help grow the economy, in line with the Strome entrepreneurial initiative.

The Strome College of Business transformation will be part of a broad flowering of entrepreneurship at ODU, tapping into its rich history of inventiveness that has existed since its founding in 1930. The initiative will include the creation of a university-wide entrepreneurial center in the fall.

The Strome Entrepreneurial Center will be the home for an innovative co-curricular program that will empower ODU students from any academic discipline to enroll in entrepreneurship courses and turn their passion into an enterprise. Through it, there are also plans for a statewide student entrepreneurial competition, a series of speakers with a national profile in business, and a course that will be offered university-wide to help impart entrepreneurial spirit in students, whatever their chosen career goal.

Jim Lant, a 27-year veteran in private-sector enterprises who teaches management in the business college, has been appointed interim director of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center.

"I suspect there are also students who don't yet know that they are, indeed, cut out to be entrepreneurs and that this career choice is actually the best one for them," Lant said.

The Strome Family Foundation donation has also spurred other donors to support entrepreneurial initiatives at ODU.

Provost Carol Simpson is leading a multidisciplinary committee to foster that culture on campus. Faculty members from each college have been selected to participate in a summer fellowship program at the Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators in Massachusetts.

"The academic component of this initiative is vital. We have faculty in every college with the passion and entrepreneurial spirit to help this entrepreneurial ecosystem grow and flourish at Old Dominion University," Simpson said.

ODU alumnus Lee Entsminger has pledged $100,000 to support six new fellows for the next four years. Broderick said Entsminger is one of several prominent business leaders and alumni who have stepped forward to support the entrepreneurial initiative:

Nancy Grden, general manager of Genomind, and founder of Avenir LLC, will support student entrepreneurs in their commercializations plans;

Alumnus Drew Ungvarsky, founder of multimedia design studio Grow Interactive, has pledged to support student entrepreneurial clubs; and

Alumna Marsha Hudgins, CEO of Hudgins Contracting Co., is financially supporting a women entrepreneurs in business speaker series.

The ODU Entrepreneurial Center will guide student entrepreneurs across the entire life cycle of the entrepreneurial process - from idea and on through the planning, research, analysis, startup and initial operations stages.

For more information see www.odu.edu/entrepreneurship.