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Diversity


February Moments: Diversity


Beginnings of Diversity

In 1966, Margaret Simmons becomes the first African American student to earn a degree - a master's in English - from Old Dominion.

First ODU Masters degreesThe first students to be awarded Masters degrees at the 1966 Commencement Exercises. (Click on image to view full photo)
Margaret Simmons1999 photo of Margaret Simmons. (Chuck Thomas) (Click on image to view full photo)

A year later the school hires its first full-time black faculty member, art professor A.B. "Alex" Jackson. . .

A. B. JacksonAlexander Brooks “A. B.” Jackson began teaching in the Art department in 1967 as the school's first black faculty member. (Click on image to view full photo)
Oral History with Charles Burgess

Charles Burgess served ODU in various capacities since 1955: professor, first Dean of Graduate Studies, Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs, and Dean of Arts and Letters. In his 2010 oral history he discusses integration at ODU, including the hiring of A. B. Jackson.


. . . and in 1969, senior class president Ronald Horne becomes the first African American student to earn a bachelor's degree.

Ronald HorneRonald Lamont Horne, President of the 1969 Senior Class, speaking at Baccalaureate Services. (Click on image to view full photo)
Ronald Horne1999 photo of Ronald Horne. (Chuck Thomas) (Click on image to view full photo)

Arthur "Buttons" Speakes, the first black athlete recruited by a predominantly white college in Virginia, joins the Monarch basketball team in 1965.

"Buttons" SpeakesSpeakes excelled at baseball as well. (Click on image to view full photo)
Oral History with Coach Bud Metheny

According to Coach Bud Metheny: "Buttons" was one of the finest athletes that I've ever had or been associated with. His contribution to the team that year just couldn't be measured. He was just a tremendous person. He played well on the field, he hit, he ran, he hustled, he did everything that a coach could ask. And as a result he is one of our better players over the years. - Arthur "Bud" Metheny, interviewed May 29, 1975


Oral History with Norman Pollock

Norman Pollock taught history at ODU from 1964 through 1998. In a 1999 interview, Norman Pollock discusses the ODU campus during the time of the civil rights movement.




Women's Center, Women's Studies Added

The Women's Center opens in 1976. Among the first of its kind in the country, it focuses initially on serving older women returning to school.



See also, the Women's Center digital collection.

For more information about the history of the Women's Center, Women's Studies, athletics, and other women's activities on campus, visit the Women at ODU digital exhibit.

Women's Center opensWomen's Center first location, 1976 - a house on 49th Street. (Click on image to view full article)
Women's Center 19801980 article provides an overview of the Old Dominion University's Women's Center and a brief biographical sketch of the 1977 Women's Center's director, Julie White. (Click on image to view full article). [Julie Dodd served as director for 30 years until her retirement in 2012.]

Oral History with Alfred Rollins

Alfred Rollins served as president of ODU from 1976-1985. In a 1999 interview, he discusses his recollections about women's programs at ODU.


A year later, the first Women's Studies Program in Virginia debuts. Carolyn Rhodes coordinates the program in its pilot year and its early success leads to a permanent program in 1978.

Carolyn RhodesCarolyn Rhodes speaking at a Faculty Senate meeting regarding Title IX, in 1976. (Click on image to view full photo)
Carolyn Rhodes and Nancy BazinCarolyn Rhodes and Nancy Bazin at the 1978 Arts Reunion (which became the Annual Literary Festival). While Carolyn Rhodes served as coordinator of the Women's Studies pilot program, Nancy Bazin was the first official director, hired in 1978. (Click on image to view full photo)

Oral History with Carolyn Rhodes

Although the Women's Studies program was started through the efforts of many people, Carolyn Rhodes, an emeritus professor of English and Women's Studies, is often credited as being the guiding force behind the program and its most ardent and loyal supporter. In a 2009 interview, she discusses how the Women's Studies program began.



Firsts in Women and Minority Appointments

Dorothy Doumar is appointed as Old Dominion's first female rector in 1978. A member of the Board of Visitors since 1972, she continues to serve until 1983. Her history-making year as rector is followed in 1979 by the appointment of Ulysses V. Spiva as the university's first African American dean (Education) and the appointment of Betty Diener as the first female dean (Business). Roseann Runte, ODU's first female president, leads the university from 2001 to 2008.


Dorothy DoumarBoard of Visitors Rector, Dorothy Doumar, speaking at a university event in the 1980s. (Click on image to view full photo)
Ulysses Spiva1979 photo of Ulysses V. Spiva, ODU's first African-American dean. (Click on image to view full photo)
Betty Diener1979 photo of Betty Diener, ODU's first female dean. (Click on image to view full photo)
Roseann RunteODU's first female president, Roseann Runte, 2001-2008. [photo from Old Dominion University... 1930-2000 - see Resources]


Lambert's Point Program Reaches Out

In 1992, Old Dominion establishes the Lambert's Point Summer Programs, offering educational, recreational and employment opportunities to children from the nearby, low-income Lambert's Point neighborhood. Founded by Cecelia Tucker, ODU's director of community relations, the program has reached out to approximately 3,400 children since its inception. This program was further expanded in 2014 through a partnership with the Life Enrichment Center to expand the reach of this program to the greater community and prevent the "summer slide" in students' academic performance over the summer break.


Cecelia TuckerCecelia Tucker visits with youngsters in the Lambert's Point Summer Program as they gather for a bus trip to Busch Gardens. (Click to read the article from ODU Magazine Fall 1999, page 11.)

Oral History with Cecelia Tucker

President Koch hired Cecelia Tucker in 1991 partly to heal ODU's relationships with the African American community and local neighborhoods. In a 2009 interview, Cecelia Tucker discusses the beginnings of the Lambert's Point program.

Cecilia TuckerCecelia Tucker


Most of the oral histories and digital materials are from the University Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives. See Resources.