Week of 7/8/13
Old Dominion AD says school's best days are ahead
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 7, 2013)
The eureka moment arrived in the middle of a six-month, 18,000-mile, 30-state trip, a classic post-college journey of self-discovery.
Or something. Truth is, for much of the trip Wood Selig and a cousin, Hall Barnes, sought nothing more profound than a cold beverage and a couch to crash on at the next Sigma Chi fraternity house in the next college town.
Then they pulled into Seattle and Selig found his professional calling. He happened upon a USA Today sports section - one of a just a handful of papers he picked up during the trip - and saw an article on an emerging sports management graduate program at Ohio University.
Until that point, it had never really dawned on him that people made careers on the administrative side of sports. He decided then and there to apply to the program.
The cousins arrived home a week before Christmas with nary a scratch on their car, or their driving records. Not even a parking ticket.
Turns out that a talent and appreciation for responsible adventure would come in handy.
At the wheel of a couple of upwardly mobile athletic programs - first at Western Kentucky and now Old Dominion - Selig has earned a reputation as someone unafraid to make big but carefully considered moves that take schools places. (More)
Cruising to the future: Leveraging regional assets
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, July 7, 2013)
Imagine a vibrant research institute focused on climate change, located on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, in a harbor with quick access to the Atlantic Ocean. Imagine that this institute is where international research organizations have offices, places to dock their research vessels, places where they can see research projects, launch rockets and balloons to examine the atmosphere and test new technologies. Imagine that this place discovers new biologicals that will contribute to medical research and simulates coastal erosion by decades.
Could this institute be the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, with a new purpose and name? Could we think BIG, create a new multidisciplinary, multimember institute, a multination research lab?
If so, who might be a partner?
* The U.S. Navy. Surmounting sea-level rise and using alternative energy are Navy priorities as they impact national security and budgets.
* Old Dominion University's internationally recognized Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography and Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center.
* The Virginia Institute of Marine Science. VIMS has international research partnerships with the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the University of Wales-Bangor, School of Ocean Sciences, the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology and East China Normal University, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Research, to name a few.
* The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Norfolk State University's Center for Biotechnology and Biosciences. The Mariners' Museum. The museum's special collection contains 32,000 objects and images documenting nearly 3,000 years of mankind's experiences on the seas and waterways of the world. (More)
Breaking apart our region's identity
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, July 7, 2013)
The U.S. Postal Service's mail processing and distribution center in Norfolk is drawing down its operations, transferring equipment to a Richmond-area plant this summer.
Every letter dropped into a mailbox in Hampton Roads will be routed about 80 miles northwest for sorting and sending. Customers in Hampton Roads who still want a local postmark will have to request it from the clerk at the post office counter. Otherwise, it'll be postmarked from Richmond.
And so it goes for Hampton Roads. The change is, perhaps, the most immediately damaging to the decades-long push to establish a collective sense of identity among the 17 localities stretching from Surry and Charles City counties to Poquoson and Virginia Beach. It's one in a series of recent developments undercutting the marketing power of a region that has never quite achieved the name recognition it sought.
Last month, the primary group dedicated to promoting regional cooperation began the process of disbanding. The governing board of the Hampton Roads Partnership voted to dissolve after 17 years, in deference to a smaller, loosely run roundtable of regional business heavyweights. Dana Dickens, a former Suffolk mayor and retired president of the partnership, rued the decision. And he pointed out that loss of a postmark diminishes efforts to promote a regional sense of identity. ...
Dickens and others, such as Dwight Farmer, executive director of the region's transportation planning district, have downplayed the effect of potential tolls on the regional economy and identity.
But tolls planned, or under consideration, for crossings between Hampton and Norfolk, Portsmouth and Norfolk and Newport News and Suffolk, will amplify the divisions that civic leaders have bridged in recent years.
Tolls of $1.84 for cars traveling each way during rush hour at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels could start Feb. 1, depending on whether the Supreme Court of Virginia reverses a Portsmouth circuit judge's ruling invalidating the state's contract with Elizabeth River Crossings LLC.
A preliminary outline for funding the multibillion-dollar plan includes $2 to $3 tolls, one way, for motorists crossing the Monitor-Merrimac and the alternative, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
Those are substantial sums for regular commuters - nearly $1,000 to cross the Elizabeth River, and as much as $3,000 to cross the harbor - over the course of a year.
About a quarter of Hampton Roads' residents live in one locality and commute to another, according to James Koch, an economist and former Old Dominion University president. He has spent years crafting the influential "State of the Region" reports used by local and state policymakers.
The steep financial impact on commuters would likely lead fewer residents to cross municipal boundaries, an outcome Koch said would amplify divisions and leave us all "poorer as a result." (More)
Chesapeake flotation spa business rises to new levels
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 6, 2013)
Friday marked the second anniversary of Float First, a Chesapeake spa offering one- or two-hour stays in two egg-shaped flotation tanks.
Business, owner James Ramsey said, is heating up. He apologized to a stream of callers Wednesday morning because Friday was already booked up.
For some customers, he said, the experience provides a burst of creativity. For others, a refuge for relaxation. ...
The market for the tanks could go far beyond spas. Possibilities include chiropractors' offices and after-surgery care, said Larry Lombardi, business development manager for technology at Norfolk's development department. The city's Economic Development Authority is providing $4,500 to US Float Tanks for website or marketing efforts.
US Float Tanks will pay Old Dominion University's Business Gateway $45,500 for assistance, including work on the tank's controls and molding process, said Jerry Robertson, executive director of the Business Gateway.
Ramsey said he's narrowing on a production site in Norfolk. In the interim, the first tank will be put together at Business Gateway's office on Monarch Way, east of the campus. That will start in the next two weeks, Robertson said. (More)
Tidewater Opera Initiative to debut in August
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 5, 2013)
In the first few minutes of the first rehearsal of the new Tidewater Opera Initiative, Kathryn Kelly and Suzanne Oberdorfer exchanged sparkling glances.
They were part of a lineup last month of six principal vocalists, seated in chairs, singing through Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," a comic opera scheduled for Norfolk performances in mid-August.
The organization, which will make its debut in August, is their baby, and they were excited.
So was Shelly Milam-Ratliff, who also is in the cast and who orchestrated the group's initial connection with the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk. That relationship has enabled TOI to hop off the score and onto a stage in just months, rather than years.
Kelly and Oberdorfer are local talents who haven't yet landed mainstage roles with prominent opera companies. They said performers need leading-role experience to get cast. In January, Oberdorfer's dad suggested she could gain that by starting her own presenting group. ...
Oberdorfer, 34, has an undergraduate vocal performance degree from Old Dominion University, also teaches and recently made her debut with Opera Roanoke in western Virginia. That company's general and artistic director, Scott Williamson, will conduct "Cosi." (More)
Uneven Sea Level Rise
(Audio, Inside Higher Education, July 5, 2013)
In today's Academic Minute, Old Dominion University's Tal Ezer examines why one section of the Atlantic coast is more vulnerable to sea level rise than others. Ezer is professor of ocean, Earth and atmospheric sciences at Old Dominion's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography. Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.
Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here. (More)
US Senate backs immigration plan
(Nature, July 3, 2013)
For Gaurav Basu, a graduate scholarship in 2003 helped to fulfill a long-held ambition of pursuing scientific research in the United States. In 2009, Basu, a native of India, earned his PhD in biomedical sciences from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.
But Basu is struggling to keep his American dream alive after finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at Old Dominion University in Norfolk in 2011. With his temporary work visa set to expire in 2015, he is now working as a consultant in northern Virginia - and fighting tough odds to stay in the United States permanently by applying for a coveted but scarce 'green card'.
Those green cards could soon flow more freely to scientists such as Basu. After years of debate and many failed attempts, on 27 June the US Senate approved a comprehensive immigration plan that would allow thousands more foreign scientists and engineers to remain in the United States permanently. "It's a phenomenal improvement over the current situation," says Russell Harrison, a senior legislative representative for IEEE-USA in Washington DC, which advocates for US members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Under current policy, the number of green cards that can be issued each year is limited to 140,000, a figure that is further reduced by per-country caps. Applicants from countries that send large numbers of immigrants - such as China, India, Mexico and the Philippines - must often wait for years, subsisting on a string of temporary work visas that can be revoked at an employer's discretion.
"Our system is absolutely, utterly broken," says Amy Scott, associate vice-president for federal relations at the Association of American Universities in Washington DC. (More)
Past union words, climate deeds stalk Va. governor candidates
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 3, 2013)
Fresh attention focused this week on past episodes involving Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe which their respective partisans see as magnifying the alleged shortcomings of the two leading candidates for governor.
For McAuliffe, the blast from the past took the form of remarks he made at an April 2010 organized labor event touting his plans to have thousands of union workers build electric cars through his now heavily-scrutinized GreenTech Automotive venture.
"I'm going to put it right in the heart of Virginia," he reportedly said at an International Brotherhood of Boilermakers conference. "And we're going to have 2,000 folks down there -- all of them union members -- and show that when you do it right, everybody benefits, including the state of Virginia."
Those comments presents a double shot opportunity for McAuliffe critics.
They refocus attention on the unfulfilled promise of GreenTech -- the car company located its factory in Mississippi rather than Virginia and hasn't lived up to expectations yet -- and enable Republicans to insinuate McAuliffe's coziness with labor could harm the state's business climate.
The Democrat has ties to organized labor from his days as a political fundraiser that endure today: McAuliffe has received substantial campaign donations from labor interests this year.
Despite that, he's repeatedly insisted he won't move to repeal Virginia's right to work law prohibiting compulsory union membership.
"Right to work has been the law here in Virginia for 65 years. And I wouldn't change it, plain and simple," he said at a recent technology forum in Northern Virginia, though he didn't rule out labor-friendly deals if they make sense for the state.
Added McAuliffe: "I will work with business. I will work with labor. I will work with everybody. Whatever is in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia on whatever project that is."
Meanwhile, Cuccinelli was confronted with his own record this week as Virginia Democrats held a series of featuring a climate change researcher the Republican nominee once targeted in a fraud investigation.
McAuliffe and the academic, former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann, appeared together Tuesday at Old Dominion University, recalling the 2010 probe Cuccinelli, a climate change skeptic, launched into Mann's grant-funded work. (More)
No "witch hunts," McAuliffe promises ODU scientists
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 3, 2013)
Sitting around a conference table with a group of scientists Tuesday at Old Dominion University, Terry McAuliffe sounded a reassuring note:
"If I ever disagree with you when I'm governor, I will never sue you, I promise."
The Democratic nominee for governor stopped by ODU on a campaign swing with a prominent academic whose profile was kicked up a notch by a legal tussle with McAuliffe's Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Michael Mann, a leading climate-change researcher at Pennsylvania State University, was the target of a 2010 fraud investigation by Cuccinelli, a climate-change skeptic.
The attorney general tried to subpoena thousands of Mann's emails from his time at the University of Virginia, alleging that he may have misused government grants in his research.
The state Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Mann's favor, halting the inquiry, but not before U.Va. spent $570,000 in legal fees defending the scientist.
McAuliffe, a former Democratic national chairman, told the scientists at ODU's Center for Bioelectrics that he wants to nourish and diversify Virginia's economy "by bringing in folks like you and not having political witch hunts against professors who we may not agree with."
This was Mann's third appearance of the week with McAuliffe, after stops Monday in Charlottesville and Blacksburg.
After the ODU event, Mann said that his foray on the campaign trail was inspired by his court battle with Cuccinelli. (More)
ODU and the Concrete Canoe: Q & A
(Surf and Adventure, June 27, 2013)
One recent afternoon, the shop phone rang and on the other end was Old Dominion University student Zachari Ryan, who introduced himself as a civil engineering student and captain of the school's concrete canoe team.
Wait, what? A canoe made of concrete?
Unfamiliar with the existence of such watercraft, Zachari went on to explain the details of the competition, hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Immediately, I knew that Surf & Adventure Co. and this effort from ODU students would make an awesome team. While engineering concrete that's very strong and buoyant is outside of our expertise, paddling in canoes (as well as kayaks and standup paddleboards) is one of our strengths.
We're proud to offer the ODU Concrete Canoe Team our support as they prepare for the ASCE's 2014 competition, which will pit the Monarchs against the country's best engineering schools. Stay tuned to this website, http://facebook.com/surfandadventure and @surf_adventure_co on Instagram for more news on the team as they work to bring another championship home to southeastern Virginia! (More)
Transportation manager driven to expand his knowledge
(Penn State News, July 2, 2013)
For Penn State transportation manager Ryan Givens, working in the transportation industry may be part of his destiny. A native of Pennsylvania, Givens grew up loving cars and a fan of racing. After high school, Givens attended Old Dominion University where he was involved in ROTC. Following graduation and his commissioning as a Marine Corps Officer, Givens embarked on a military career where he worked as a transportation officer.
After 11 years in the military, Givens hung up his combat boots. He later obtained a position as a Parking Planner and Facilities Coordinator at N.C. State in the Transportation Department.
"I had planned on staying in Raleigh," said Givens. "But when the opportunity presented itself here, it was the one place that could get me back to Pennsylvania."
Givens aspires to advance in the field of transportation. His move to the position at Penn State was just one of the ways he made that goal a reality. Another was becoming a Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP), a program he began while at N.C. State.
"When I got to Penn State, it was important for me to continue that program," said Givens. "Penn State has had CAPPs in the past and they were more than willing to help me continue the program. This program shows you have gone above and beyond." (More)
McAuliffe talks research at ODU
(WAVY-TV, July 2, 2013)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe stopped in Norfolk Tuesday to talk about research and innovation.
McAuliffe joined former University of Virginia professor Dr. Michael Mann at Old Dominion University's Center for Bioelectrics. The pair discussed research and innovation as 'key components in keeping Virginia competitive in the 21st Century.'
"These are exactly the types of innovations Virginia's leaders need to support," McAuliffe said. "As Governor, I will do everything I can to encourage great thinkers and innovators like the ones here at Old Dominion to come to the Commonwealth, develop new products, create jobs here, and ensure that Virginia can compete on a global scale."
"Researchers should have the freedom to pursue areas of study as they see fit, without facing constraints based on a politician's personal beliefs," Mann said. "While Terry McAuliffe knows the importance of supporting the research community in order to keep Virginia welcoming to innovators and its economy growing, Ken Cuccinelli would rather drive his own ideological agenda and leave the Commonwealth's economy to suffer."
WAVY.com reached out to Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli's office and received the following response from press secretary Anna Nix:
"It is no surprise Terry McAuliffe is campaigning [Tuesday] with Michael Mann, a firm supporter of the McAuliffe/Biden/Obama War on Coal. McAuliffe's decision to invite Mann to campaign on his behalf is a clear indication that McAuliffe has not budged one inch from his stance that Virginia must move past coal and that as Governor he will not protect Virginia's coal industry and the tens of thousands of people who depend on it. The coal industry is not only a key part of the Commonwealth's heritage, it also supports billions in wages for hardworking families and billions in economic activity in Virginia." (More)
Anchor Scholarship Foundation presents 2013 GEICO Scholar award to Portsmouth, Va., college student
(The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2013)
Between tuition, books, room and board and other living expenses, college can be one of life's most challenging expenses for a student and their family. GEICO and the Anchor Scholarship Foundation teamed up to ease the burden for a Portsmouth, Va., college student and her family by awarding her the 2013 GEICO Scholar award. Charmaine Brawner, a student at Old Dominion University and daughter of Chief Boatswain's Mate Donnell Brawner, USN (Ret), was joined by representatives from GEICO at a recent ceremony where she was presented the $2,000 scholarship.
Charmaine Brawner (second from left) of Portsmouth, Va., was joined by her mother Paulette as she was presented the 2013 GEICO Scholar award by GEICO's Jon Thompson (left) and Steve Ludwig (right). Photo courtesy of the Anchor Scholarship Foundation
"College debt can be crippling not only for this generation, but also for their parents that sign off on college loans," said Danielle Dawley, executive director of the Anchor Scholarship Foundation. "Scholarships, internships and work study programs are viable and critical options for this generation. GEICO's investment in scholarships directly benefits our Surface Navy families and, by extension, our country."
GEICO has been a named sponsor of the GEICO Scholar award since 2011 and has contributed to the Anchor Scholarship Foundation, which helps support active and retired members of the U.S. Navy's surface force and their family members as they pursue a degree at a 4-year institution or community college, since 2003. (More)
ODU moves up to CUSA
(WAVY-TV, July 1, 2013)
The countdown is now officially over. As of July 1, 2013, Old Dominion University begins a new era in its athletic history as a member of Conference USA. Gone is the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Monarchs are one of eight institutions joining CUSA today, bringing the league's membership for 2013-14 to 16 teams. Joining ODU as new members are Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, North Texas and Texas San Antonio. East Carolina, Marshall, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa, Texas El Paso and Rice comprise the rest of the league membership.
New Old Dominion basketball coach Jeff Jones stopped by the Hampton Roads Show to discuss the importance of this historic move for ODU. (More)
Jeff Jones on ODU joining Conference USA
(Video, WVEC-TV, July 1, 2013)
Jeff Jones on ODU joining Conference USA. (More)
Researchers Retask Sensor Networks to Detect New Hazards
(Emergency Management, July 1, 2013)
When first responders arrive at a major incident such as a fire, they must first determine the extent of the hazard. Networks of remote sensors are ideal for this purpose since they can provide information without putting the responders at risk. However, they must be set up to detect the hazard in question. And most buildings don't have extensive networks of remote sensors looking for fire - chemical spills or other hazards - at all times.
Many remote sensor networks already exist for other uses. Some may monitor building temperature or they may be motion sensors. Others may be set up outdoors to track pollutants in a river. What if the first responders could quickly and easily reprogram these networks to detect the new hazard? For instance, maybe they could use a voice command saying that they need to know where the fire is, and the software would reprogram any remote sensors in the area to look for fire. When the emergency was over, the sensor networks would return to what they had been doing originally.
That's the vision of a team of researchers at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. They hope it will be possible in the future for emergency responders to have specialized software with them for this purpose - built into their helmets. The software could quickly detect and reprogram any remote networks in the area to report, for example, not whether it's time to turn the lights off but instead on whether a certain part of the building is on fire.
The group is partway through a three-year project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. (The grant could be extended beyond the three years.) The project is called ALERT: An Architecture for the Emergency Re-tasking of Wireless Sensor Networks.
The goal is not to produce a marketable product, but to create a "proof of concept to show that we could accomplish this retasking with separate networks and a simple mission," said Michele C. Weigle, associate professor of computer science at Old Dominion and principal investigator. The hope is that if their research shows how it could be done, someone will turn it into a commercial product that emergency managers and first responders can use. (More)