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

Paul Olsen Wins Regional Engineering Award from ASCE

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Retired Col. Paul Olsen, former Norfolk District Commander with the Army Corps of Engineers, has been selected as Norfolk's 2015 Government Engineer of the Year by the Norfolk Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Olsen, who came to Old Dominion in late 2015 as the University's director of federal, commonwealth and municipal programs and partnerships, spent 28 years with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Olsen received the award at ASCE's 2016 Engineering Excellence Awards Banquet on Feb. 26 in Norfolk from Michael Bumbaco, Norfolk awards committee chair for ASCE.

Originally from Milwaukee, Olsen worked around the world, including multiple wartime deployments. He was Norfolk District Commander from 2011 to 2015.

Leading the Norfolk District, an area slightly larger than the Commonwealth of Virginia including lower-lying regions of Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware, also gave him significant responsibility to plan for sea level rise mitigation and adaptation.

At Old Dominion, Olsen is responsible for translating the university's world-renowned research in sea level rise and the collaborations formed through projects such as the White House Sea Level Rise Pilot Project - which the University leads - into operationalized policy.

During his four-year command, Olsen said he became acutely aware of the research on the issue at Old Dominion.

In a recent op-ed column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Olsen wrote that Old Dominion helps lead a coalition of government, university, private and nonprofit sector leaders in combating sea level rise. Olsen urged the Commonwealth to pass a bill that would create and fund the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency.

"The center would leverage the strengths of Old Dominion and the College of William and Mary to provide support for state and local planners and decision-makers and to help Virginia win critical federal funds," Olsen wrote.