January Moments: Presidents of ODU
Father of ODU
Lewis W. Webb Jr., fresh from earning a Master of Science degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, joins the faculty in fall 1932 as an instructor of engineering. His appointment would prove to be the most important in the history of the institution. Webb, who often has been called "the father of Old Dominion University," serves as director of the Norfolk Division from 1946-62 and as president of Old Dominion College from 1962-69. He is credited with laying the groundwork for the institution's ascension to university status.
James L. Bugg, 2nd President
James L. Bugg succeeded Webb as President in 1969. He was recruited from the University of Missouri at St. Louis where he served four years as Chancellor. Dr. Bugg believed his mission was to change Old Dominion from a college to a university, improve the quality of the faculty and integrate the college into the community it served. During Dr. Bugg's tenure, many new programs were launched including the first doctoral programs in engineering and oceanography. After retiring from the presidency in 1976, Dr. Bugg returned to teaching and research as the Constance & Colgate Darden Professor of History and Education. He retired from the faculty in 1991, but remained an advocate for and friend to the University until his passing in 2015.
Al Rollins Assumes the Presidency
Alfred B. Rollins Jr. succeeds James Bugg as president on July 1, 1976. During his nearly 10 years at the helm, Rollins expands the university's state and private funding, enhances student services, and adds an honors program and a new general education program for undergraduates. He plays a major role in forging partnerships within the community, including those with NASA, the U.S. Navy and Norfolk State University, and becomes known for his commitment to affirmative action.
Joseph Marchello Selected as Fourth President
Joseph M. Marchello succeeds Al Rollins as Old Dominion's fourth president in July 1985. Marchello, who serves until 1988, develops higher education centers on the Peninsula and in Virginia Beach, and pushes for the university to build a fine arts center and to expand Webb Center and the Child Study Center. ODU's Technology Applications Center and Bank of America Entrepreneurial Center also are established during his presidency.
William B. Spong, Jr. in the Interim
William B. Spong was recruited by the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors to serve as interim president after the resignation of Joseph Marchello. Dr. Spong was sought after because of his connections and familiarity with Virginia state politics. He had served 12 years in the Virginia General Assembly as well as in the U.S. Senate, and was Dean of the William and Mary Law School. His interim appointment lasted 1.5 years.
Dr. Koch Comes to Norfolk
James V. Koch assumes the ODU presidency in July 1990, following the 1 1/2-year interim presidency of William B. Spong Jr., a former U.S. senator. Koch leads the university for 11 years through a period of remarkable transformation. Under his guidance, Old Dominion becomes a national leader in distance education, successfully completes its first capital campaign, undergoes an extensive campus beautification project, and doubles the number of African American and international students. He is credited with initiating the President's Lecture Series and Diehn Concert Series, and developing plans for the University Village.
Roseann Runte Selected as Seventh President
Roseann Runte becomes Old Dominion's first female president in July 2001. At her inauguration, she pledges to donate $20,000 each year of her presidency to the scholarship endowment, and later in the day announces that ODU will receive state funds for the Engineering and Computational Sciences Building, one of the first initiatives she had pursued with commonwealth officials. Runte also promises to shine a spotlight on research, build upon the distance learning network, increase scholarship support and make globalism an integral part of the curriculum and extracurricular activities.
John Broderick Becomes Eighth President
The Board of Visitors on May 18, 2009, votes unanimously to appoint John R. Broderick as the eighth president of Old Dominion. Broderick, who had served as acting president since June 2008, is given a two-year contract. "Over the past year, John Broderick has deftly navigated Old Dominion University through a myriad of challenges and opportunities," says Rector Ross Mugler. "His leadership through significant state budget reductions positioned the university in a more stable fiscal situation, and his implementation of a comprehensive enrollment management plan brought about a more strategic approach for ODU to increase the quality and rigor of its academics in the coming years." Mugler adds, "John impressed the board with his knowledge and experience leading ODU, his positive relationships with legislators, community leaders, faculty, students, alumni and donors, and his dedication and commitment to this university." Prior to becoming acting president, Broderick served 12 years as vice president for institutional advancement and admissions at ODU, taking on the additional role of chief of staff to the president in 2003. He also annually teaches graduate courses in the Darden College of Education.
See Resources for more information about where to find ODU history, and visit the University Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives in Perry Library.