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

Largest ODU Graduating Class to be Honored at Spring Commencement

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion's largest-ever graduating class will stride confidently across the stage at the Ted Constant Convocation Center at the University's 124th commencement exercises May 6 and 7.

More than 3,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral graduates will receive words of wisdom from three commencement speakers, including a member of Congress; a retired CEO and mentor to young women, and an executive with Dominion Virginia Power.

Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican who represents Virginia's First Congressional District, will speak at the 4 p.m. ceremony on Friday, May 6, for graduates of Old Dominion's College of Arts & Letters.

Robert Blue, senior vice president for regulation, law and policy and president of Dominion Virginia Power, will address graduates of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, College of Sciences and College of Health Sciences in the 9 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 7. Joyce M. Roché, retired president and CEO of Girls Inc., will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday to graduates of the Strome College of Business and Darden College of Education.

Honorary degrees will be bestowed on Roché and Marc Jacobson, retired judge of the Norfolk Circuit Court and former rector of Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors.

Information about all three ceremonies is available at the Old Dominion University commencement website.

Wittman was first elected to serve the First Congressional District of Virginia - America's first congressional district - in December 2007. He was re-elected for his fourth full term in the House of Representatives in November 2014. Previously, Wittman served in several levels of government for more than 20 years, from Montross Town Council to the Virginia General Assembly.

In Congress, Wittman serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources. He has earned a reputation as an advocate for our men and women in uniform and a champion of the Chesapeake Bay. Before his election to Congress, Wittman spent 26 years working in state government, most recently as field director for the Virginia Health Department's Division of Shellfish Sanitation.

Blue joined Dominion Virginia Power in 2005 as managing director for state affairs and corporate public policy. He was named senior vice president for law, public policy and environment in January 2011 and president of Dominion Virginia Power in January 2014. He was named senior vice president for regulation, law, energy solutions and policy in May 2015.

From 2002 to 2005, Blue served as counselor and director of policy for then-Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner and was a partner with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson before that.

He is a member of the boards of directors of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Virginia Healthcare Foundation, the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority, the Communities in Schools of Virginia and Sports Backers.

As a trailblazer in the corporate world for 25 years, Roché mentored women by encouraging them to find their voices and take bold career risks. Her vision for empowered businesswomen carried over into her work on behalf of girls in 2000, when she assumed the role of president and CEO of Girls Inc.

After her retirement, Roché co-wrote the business memoir "The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success." In it, she describes her struggle with impostor syndrome through the first two decades of her career. "The Empress Has No Clothes" is now an online community dedicated to helping people who struggle with impostor syndrome. Roché is currently a motivational speaker.

Roché will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the 2 p.m. ceremony. Jacobson, who served as a judge in the Commonwealth of Virginia for 14 years after practicing law for 32 years, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the 9 a.m. ceremony.

Jacobson sat on the Norfolk General District Court from 1990 to 1995 and on the Norfolk Circuit Court from 1995 to 2004, serving as chief judge of the Circuit Court from 2001 to 2003. He remains active as a substitute judge and arbitrator throughout eastern Virginia.

He served as rector of the Board of Visitors of Old Dominion University from 2006 to 2008 and a member of the board from 2004 to 2014.