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Women at ODU : Builders of Communities & Dreams
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Because of the hard work of many women in the 1970s and continuing into the 1980s, more opportunities and challenges were available to women. There have been many incredible women at ODU. With every "first," a door was opened for others to enter and fulfill their own dreams. While these women inspire us because they were "first," it is important to acknowledge the many other women who made things happen and inspired others from behind the scene -- assistants, secretaries, technicians, and the wives of former presidents.

Here, we recognize a few of the more visible and inspiring women in ODU's history.

Margaret Curry Williams

Margaret (Maggi) L. Curry-Williams

  • Appointed in 1976 to newly-created Director of Affirmative Action position
  • Served as Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Associate Vice-President for Student Services,
    Associate Dean of Students
  • The Division of Student Services established the Maggi Curry-Williams Quiet Influence award in her honor

Article: Mace and Crown, Sept. 6, 1976

Betty Diener

Betty Diener

  • First female dean, 1979
  • Second female dean of accredited school of business in the country.

Article: Mace and Crown, June 4, 1979

Dorothy Doumar

Dorothy Doumar

  • First female rector of the Board of Visitors, 1978
  • Served on the Board of Visitors, 1972-1983

Photo from Brydges, p.227 showing the 1994 reunion of former rectors

Jo Ann Gora

Jo Ann Gora

  • First female provost, 1992-2001
  • First woman to serve as president for doctoral-granting school in Virginia: In 1995, she was acting president in Dr. Koch's absence.

Photo from Brydges, p.95

Wendy Hildreth

Wendy Hildreth

  • Named first female athletic business manager, 1974.

Article: Mace and Crown

Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones

  • Head of Office of Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity, 1981-1998

Article: Mace and Crown, Sept. 15, 1975

Kay Kemper

Kay Kemper

First female vice president (University Relations), 1992-1996

Photo from Brydges, p.95

Karen Polonko

Karen Polonko

  • First ODU faculty member to win the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), 1991
  • Named Virginia Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), 1993
    • Several other ODU women have received the Outstanding Faculty award since 1991: Michele Darby (1993), Nancy Bazin (1994), Helen Rountree (1995), Dana Heller (1997), Christine Drake (1999), Janet Peery (2002), Sheri Reynolds (2003), Katharine Kersey and Cynthia Jones (2005), and Sharon Raver-Lampman (2006). Cynthia Jones also received the Virginia Professor of the Year award (2004).

Article: Courier, April 5, 1991

Roseann Runte

Roseann Runte

  • First female president of the University, 2001-present

Photo from Brydges, p.217

Samantha Salvia

Samantha Salvia

  • First Rhodes Scholar at Old Dominion University, 1995
  • As a field hockey player, she was an Academic All-American and was named to the College Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American squad.

Photo from Brydges, p.227

Anne Raymond-Savage

Anne Raymond Savage

  • Faculty, 1971-2004 and "Mother of TELETECHNET"
  • Director of Center for Instruction Development, 1978
  • Director of Academic Television Services and Center for Instructional Services, 1984
  • Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, 1990-1999
  • National University Administrator Award, 1998
  • ODU Administrator of the Year Award, 1999
  • Vice Provost of Distance Learning, 2001

Article: Unews, February 16, 1979, p.2

Karen Scherberger

  • Elected first female student body president, 1976
    • Jane Warriner was the first female president of the Student Senate, 1946

Article: Mace and Crown, April 12, 1976

Margaret Simmons

Margaret Simmons

  • First African-American student to earn a degree (M.A. English), 1966

Photo from Brydges, p. 83

Lucy Wilson

Lucy Wilson

  • 1975-1995
  • Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs
  • Associate Vice-President for Student Services
  • Associate Dean for the College of Education

Article: Mace and Crown

Helen Yura

Helen Yura

  • Faculty, 1979-1988 (Eminent Scholar)
  • Hired to head the new Master's Program in Nursing, 1979
  • ODU's Epsilon Chi Sponsored the Helen Yura-Petro Lectureship, which focuses on nursing research
  • The Helen Yura Award for Excellence in Nursing is available to graduate students at ODU

Article: Courier, Feb. 28, 1980

Afroz Zaman

Afroz Zaman

  • First full-time female faculty member in the College of Engineering, 1983

Article: Courier, Feb. 25, 1983

Fay Zetlin

  • First artist-in-residence at ODU
  • Worked on Norfolk's Diggs Park Playground and Green's Market project

Article: Mace and Crown

Marla Ziegler

  • First female Assistant Dean at ODU, 1980 (Arts & Letters)

For our Website, tell us about a woman at ODU who inspired you and why. Email kvaughan@odu.edu


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