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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Six Universities Advance Coastal and Marine Science for Virginia

On Monday, April 27, Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick joined with presidents of five other universities to advance marine and coastal science that solves pressing issues by signing the Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) charter.

The charter is the first in VASG's 30-year history, and formalizes an existing commitment among partners toward collaboration on the challenges that face Virginia's coasts and oceans.

"I am honored to sign the Virginia Sea Grant charter on behalf of Virginia's Council of Presidents," Broderick said. "Virginia Sea Grant is a vital resource for coastal and marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, including Old Dominion University's home of Hampton Roads."

University presidents from William & Mary, Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and George Mason University took part in the signing ceremony in Richmond. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Secretary of Education Anne Holton and Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward also participated in the event.

"The charter is our way to operationalize our commitment to integrating our programs and enabling connections across our institutions," said Troy Hartley, Director of VASG.

For nearly 50 years, the National Sea Grant College program, a program of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce, has helped maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy.

Founded in 1984, VASG is a multi-university organization whose mission is to enhance the ecological, economic and social sustainability of coastal and ocean communities in Virginia and the ecosystem services they depend upon through university-based research, extension, education and communication that provides science-based information to decision makers.

The charter signing comes on the heels of another major milestone for VASG. Last December, the Department of Commerce awarded VASG's home institutions of the College of William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with College Status, the highest status that any Sea Grant program can achieve. These formalized arrangements are essential to solving the issues Virginia's coasts and oceans face today, Hartley said.

"It's important to break down boundaries and to cross those boundaries, whether they are institutional, operational, or functional; extension, research, or communication; social science or natural science," he said. "That's where innovation and problem solving comes from."

Broderick said Old Dominion's participation in Virginia Sea Grant has enabled the University to build closer ties to other institutions.

"Our nationally recognized oceanographers, coastal engineers and sea level rise researchers work with colleagues at other colleges and universities to contribute groundbreaking research in maritime-related fields," he said. "The research from Old Dominion and other institutions is among the most forward-looking and evidence-based science the nation has produced that is aimed at combatting an issue, sea level rise, that threatens coastal areas around the world."

Broderick added the research is not only performed by faculty at the Virginia Sea Grant's affiliated institutions, but also by bright and talented graduate students from around the country, who are afforded scholarship opportunities through the Virginia Sea Grant.

"We are proud to be a part of Virginia Sea Grant, and we are excited about new opportunities that will emerge as part of this multi-institutional partnership," Broderick said.