Old Dominion University and Norfolk want to become an international center of expertise for coastal resiliency, and a $3 million gift from regional philanthropist Joan Brock will help, President John Broderick announced Aug. 21.
Broderick told more than 1,400 attendees of his 12th annual state of the university address at the Ted Constant Convocation Center that the money will allow ODU to hire an international thought leader as executive director of its new Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience.
The city of Norfolk is a partner in the institute, and its executive director may serve as a city resilience strategist, Broderick said. The city confirmed the partnership.
The university has been involved in various climate change and sea level efforts for the past decade, including partnerships with the College of William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
The new interdisciplinary institute will enable ODU to take on a leadership role to convene stakeholders and allow for more of a statewide approach while also increasing research, outreach and education, Broderick said.
A top institute priority will be the Recover Hampton Roads project, which will create a research-based clearinghouse to expedite housing recovery after a severe weather event and could serve as a model for other communities across the country, Broderick said.
Joshua Behr with ODU’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center has been appointed to serve as the first ODU-Norfolk resilience fellow, leading Recover Hampton Roads and working from the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offices downtown at 112 Bank St., ODU spokesperson Giovanna Genard said.
Behr’s work focuses on resilience and recovery for vulnerable and medically fragile populations.
Recover Hampton Roads will be a regional organization partnering with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation that will use custom software to work with cities to coordinate material and labor donations in a way that reduces overall displacement more quickly, Behr said.
For example, the organization can identify and deploy materials for smaller jobs where work crews can patch roofs to get as many people back home sooner while also planning how to tackle projects of more significant damage.
The Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience, or ICAR, will help the region take a proactive approach to flooding, which could affect major economic and community assets or infrastructure, Brock said.
Brock and her late husband Macon Brock, who co-founded Dollar Tree, have supported regional environmental efforts and ODU’s outdoor amphitheater called Brock Commons. Joan Brock, who lives in Virginia Beach and was raised in Norfolk, also received a master’s degree in humanities from ODU.
“ODU could provide the leadership our community needs because we’re all talking about it,” Brock said. “ODU can take the helm and make something happen.”
Since Broderick began serving as the university’s eighth president in 2008, ODU reports receiving more than $890 million in new public and private resources, including the university’s largest gift, $37 million to establish the Barry Art Museum, which opened in November.
The university also recently received $4 million from Chartway Federal Credit Union, and so the interior of the Ted will be called Chartway Arena, he said. A $3 million commitment from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation’s Diehn Fund will also establish the music program as the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music.
A donor-advised fund created by commercial real estate developer Harvey Lindsay’s late wife Frances will establish the Harvey Lindsay School of Real Estate, Broderick said.
In the two years since announcing a fundraising effort to support scholarships, athletics, academics and special projects, Broderick said ODU has raised $160 million of a $250 million goal. That’s separate from $200 million in ongoing capital projects.
In other activity, the university joined a biomedical research consortium along with the University of Virginia, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia Commonwealth University, Sentara and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, according to the presentation. Broderick said that fits in with efforts for ODU to establish a school of public health.
ODU also established an economic development catalyst task force led by John “Dubby” Wynne, who spearheaded the statewide GO Virginia effort, and Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center.
Separately in his address, Broderick said ODU is developing a memorial to be located near the Perry Library in remembrance of the victims, including five ODU alumni, of the May 31 Virginia Beach mass shooting. Twelve people were killed and four were injured in the shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal center.
“It was a sad day for everyone in Hampton Roads,” Broderick said.