1. Could you talk a little about your education and background?
I came here in 1969 as an instructor in political science and geography.
And taught courses in international relations and comparative government.
During my first year here, I finished my Ph. D. at the University of
Virginia. I remained in the department for about three or four years,
and then I became assistant dean of what was then the School of Arts
and Letters, worked with E. Vernon Peele. He had been here a long time-he
came in with President Webb. And he had presided over the division of
what was the School of Arts and Sciences-the School of Arts and Letters
and the School of Sciences at that point. There were no associate deans
at that time. I was assistant dean probably for another three or so
years, and then I became department chair of political science and geography.
Did that for a little while and was asked by then-provost Chuck Burgess
to become the acting Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. This was
an acting position for about a year, and then there was a recruitment
process and I was selected as the permanent dean. I stayed in that job
until the early eighties. And then the school was dissolved. Because
basic decisions were made that the deans of the schools that were to
become colleges were to have full responsibility for their total curriculum,
undergraduate as well as graduate.
A lot of the functions that my staff and I performed in the School
of Graduate Studies were distributed out to other offices. For example,
the people working on admissions went to the Office of Admissions and
so forth. But what was retained was the position I moved to--Associate
Vice President for Graduate Studies. So I became for a while the chief
university officer for graduate studies. From then it evolved into a
whole variety of titles to the one I'm in now. But there's been a variety
of incarnations of Associate Vice President for Faculty and Curriculum.
I was the Deputy Vice President for Academic Affairs once. Two Provosts
ago, we settled on Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. I've
been acting Vice President/Provost four different times. The first time
was in 1983, and then in 1986-87. 1990-92. And then, about two years
ago, when President Koch was on leave and Provost Gora became president
for the better part of a year or so. Now I'm doing this job with Provost
Gora, and in some ways all of the jobs from the past keep tagging on.
I still get queried and sometimes get responsibilities for graduate
matters. I'm working with the Ph. D. in Urban Services program to help
them move through how they're organized and how they operate. I handle
research compliance for the university. I work with faculty on the development
of new program proposals, graduate and undergraduate.
On the Academic Affairs staff there are two people like me. One of
them went back to faculty, and that was Bob Ash. And we've both been
here a very long time, both kind of grew up with the institution and
that's made it possible for me to do things here that would've taken
me several different moves to do in my career. It's also given me the
opportunity to help build the institution. I've been where the action
is in terms of what Old Dominion has become, and for me that's been
a very satisfying part of my career. And like Bob-that's one reason
we haven't left. Because every year's a whole new year here!
2. You came here during a period of transition. Lewis Webb was leaving,
Jim Bugg was coming on board, and the school had just become a university.
What was the atmosphere like on campus?
Lewis Webb was indeed on his way out. Jim Bugg had just become the
president. I first met Lewis Webb when I came for an interview, and
met him on the walk of what was then the Norfolk Regional Airport. He
was coming off, and I was boarding and my then department chair introduced
us. I got to know him and Virginia very well. When I came, he was no
longer president but he was still a very prominent feature of this university.
Because his personal style was very open and accessible and friendly.
But I came when the state anointed Old Dominion a university. In fact,
I was one of six that year hired by the Department of Political Science,
and now I'm the only one left. There were lots of multiple hires in
several departments in '69 as the institution amped up to becoming a
university. It actually took several years for it to become a university.
Its orientation and its style was still very much that of a small college.
Things like the importance of research and scholarship were not yet
part of the culture here. But even when those things happened to Old
Dominion, one of the things that's always attracted me-it's never lost
sight of where its roots were.
It's a strong teaching institution, it's an institution that reaches
out aggressively to the surrounding community, provides services and
programs. All the things I see today-TELETECHNET for example-in scale,
it's larger, in scope, it's larger, but it's connected very intimately
to the kinds of attitudes and values we've always had here about teaching
courses off campus. We've added technology to it, and now we can do
it in Roanoke and Big Stone Gap, whereas before Kempsville was a stretch
because you had to drive there. But that was always just the style of
3. What were your first impressions of the physical plant?
Two pieces of background are important here. I was an undergraduate
at Wayne State University in Detroit-a prototype urban university smack
dab in the middle of the city. When I was there as a student in the
late 50s, early 60s, it was about 25,000 students. And then I went to
UVA for grad school when I left the Air Force. I was in the Air Force
for about five years. And that place is very traditional-all red brick,
serpentine walls, columns and a lot of tradition. Wayne State didn't
have much tradition. I came here, and one of my first observations was
that the place was comfortable to me because it felt to me like a city.
It was an institution that I could understand its mission-what it was
trying to accomplish. It impressed me as not having too many pretensions
about itself. Even today it still undervalues itself. I thought it had
the potential to grow. I remember looking at the area. I flew in from
Charlottesville for a day-long interview and I saw the area from the
air, and I thought it was an area that would grow. I thought that this
was an institution that was going to grow, and I could probably grow
with it. The place made a lot of sense to me. And I turned down a job
at Virginia Tech because I didn't care for living as far out in the
wilderness as Blacksburg then was.
Even though it was a larger institution, more prestigious, I felt that
long-term, this was a better deal for me. I even came here for less
money. I just thought there was more potential.
It was not the prettiest place physically. My office that I was assigned
to actually stood on this spot [where the New Administration Building
is now] and it looked like a Navy barracks building. Sort of an h-shaped
building. Downstairs in that building were two or three others who were
hired from that six in political science. Plus historians across the
hail, historians upstairs, geographers down the hail. It was the social
studies building. And it had classrooms and it was an interesting old
building. You couldn't smoke on the second floor because the floors
were impregnated with oil and the place was a fire trap. We came back
from Christmas vacation and there'd been an electrical fire in there,
and we found out the wiring was barely within code and always subject
to being shorted out. So there was a fire that did a lot of damage to
people's books and things. It didn't bum the building down.
It just generated a lot of smoke. Every spring, if you taught a class
in there, sometimes when it got warm, the termites would come out of
the walls and you'd have to take all of the classes outside and teach
out on the lawn or teach up in the stadium. And there was one large
lecture room in there that was actually primarily used by the history
department. But the inside of the room was surrounded by murals someone
had painted of famous scenes in American history. When the building
was torn down, the physical plant took charge of the murals and allegedly
put them someplace-they may still be in existence today. But it was
a fun building. It had concrete floors, no carpet, used furniture. We
used to get second-hand furniture from government agencies around here.
That's the way life was here. It was a little bit grim. The department
office was down at the end of the walk where public safety is. There
was a building that was commonly called Fink's Flats and it used to
be a two-unit apartment building that was smaller in area than the building
that's on that site now. That was the department office, the department
chair and about four faculty members. We had, you know, the bathroom
was the file room. It was a nutty little place.
The buildings on 49th Street were there, the three buildings, all
covered with that solarblock. The Fine Arts Building had exterior entries
to all its classrooms. It looked like a 1950s-style motel. The very
front part, the center part of what was Webb Center-all that added on
the back and on the sides wasn't there. I guess Kaufman Hall was across
the mall there and the Education Building was being built. The mall
was nowhere looking like it does now. It had a great big depression
in it. When we started to build the mall, when the Kaufmans provided
all that money, the biggest expense in building the mall was putting
in drainage underneath it. Because if you get down in it a little way,
there was kind of a loose muck under there. So a lot of the money went
underground when that mall was built. Now what used to happen here,
you'd get a good summer thunderstorm and that depression would fill
up with water and it became commonly known in the neighborhood for the
kids as Webb's Lake-there was this great place for kids to fool around.
And then we went through the whole business
of rebuilding that mall with all the piles-it seems like for years we
had piles of dirt every place. And it just happened to coincide with
the streaking phenomenon. So running between piles of dirt became a
great place for the streakers to go. There's a photograph someplace
of Dana Burnett-of him in his double-knit suit, the young Dean of Students
with his long hair sort of supervising the streaking. It was a great
time. We'd go out at lunch and there'd be announced streaking! So the
whole faculty and staff and students would turn out and watch the streakers.
Nothing ever happened to them. The campus police tried to do something.
I remember at the height of it, Friday nights were a gas over there
by Rogers Dorm. I mean people would streak sort of lazily, or in their
cars, and sort of parade in their convertibles, both men and women.
It was kind of a symptom of the 70s. It gives you a sense of what the
70s were like here. Students here got involved in the war not as much
as they did on residential campuses. I remember the most significant
event with regard to Vietnam here coming on the heels of the slaying
at Kent State. I think the only march that happened here-and I was involved
in it-we marched to the Old Administration Building, now Rollins Hall,
to confront President Bugg and demanded something be done. What, I don't
know. Bless his heart.
So the mall was barely developed. And the rest was just houses. There
were houses all over and there was the technology building across the
street. The university was on the verge of a building boom because I
was shown a master plan when I was being recruited that stretched the
university all the way to 38th Street. And that never happened on this
side of the street, but it may happen on the other side of the street.
But if you notice the design sometime of the bank building on 3 8th
and Hampton-it was first the Virginia National Bank and it was a two-story
brick building sitting on that corner, looking very much like the termite
company, Get 'em. Then they tore that down and built the building that's
there now. If you notice the design of that building and then come back
to campus, you'll see they built that deliberately so it would match
the campus architecture. Because they thought the campus was going to
be a neighbor. But there were lots of houses all along here, lots of
neighborhood that slowly was removed as the institution expanded that
way. But it was not the pleasantest of places. I was also shown the
plan for the Arts and Letters building-Batten Arts and Letters. I was
shown where my office was going to be. Of course it was several years
before that building was finished and I moved.
4. What are your impressions of presidents Jim Bugg and Al Rollins?
How did their roles in the development of the university differ?
Jim Bugg had an almost impossible task on his hands. He was literally
charged to make this an urban university. And he had come from St. Louis.
He was experienced, a savvy guy. But he was in the process of changing
the culture of this thing called Old Dominion, and his tenure was not
all that long. There are various stories about why Jim Bugg resigned
or was fired. Take your pick. He was dismissed by the board. It was
done by a phone call, which was really rather brutal. And there was
some real evidence that his executive vice president, Harold Eickhoff,
had undermined Jim with his own board. But on a broader scale, Jim was
a change agent, and change agents don't last long in an environment.
They bring about the change and then they leave. There's mixed kinds
of things going on here. Rollins was then able to come in and capitalize
on the things that Bugg had done. And he was a little bit more academic
in his orientation, a little bit more like the faculty. He looked like
them, talked like them. He was a very powerful man. But he knew how
to use his power. He did a lot more persuading in his leadership than
this sort of leading by main force all the time. It was with Al that
I really went through a sort of mentoring experience as an administrator,
because he was the one I served my first acting tour as a vice president
And he was--and still is--a gentle person, an intellectual. He likes
to think of himself as a radical. Did he tell you the story about his
plaid sport coat? He met Frank Batten in the airport for his initial
interview wearing a plaid sport coat. His point was- you're going to
take me for what I am! Think of the context. If you're interviewing
me for university president you expect me to come in wearing a business
suit, probably stripes, white shirt, red tie, polished shoes. Al gave
this institution an academic soul, I think, and he gave it some humanity.
He was a good administrator. He knew how to make tough decisions, but
he also remembered that there were people involved, and he surrounded
himself with administrators and staff members who also understood those
things. And some of them have gone on to become quite successful. John
Moore has been president of two institutions now-John was his executive
vice president. He went out to Cal State in Stanislaus, and he's now
president of Indiana State University. Mark Perkins, who was budget
director, is now president of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
Mike Malone, who was admissions director, is now president of Troy State
University in Alabama. So these were a great team to work with. I had
a growing-up experience, but I also had a very rewarding experience.
This was a real team Al had put together, and we operated as a team.
We all shared the same values about the institution and the kind of
things we wanted to accomplish. What in later years looked like mild
problems--I had a 1.4 million-dollar budget reduction I had to execute
in academic affairs. The team being what it was, the other vice presidents
bought off half of that debt for me out of their own areas because of
the value on the academic side of the institution.
But the two men were very different. They each had a very different
role to play in the university. Bugg was really charged with saying,
"Okay Old Dominion College, pick yourself up. You're now a university,
we gotta do these things. This is the way the university game is played.
Yes, we need to value teaching, but we've got to now add research as
a responsibility. And we need to think about doctoral programs." We
brought the engineering doctoral program out in the early 70s-'72-'73.
That changes the nature of the university. The question of tenure for
faculty became much more of a rigorous evaluation than it had been;
promotion became a much more rigorous evaluation. Research and scholarship
became important. Fund-raising became important--things that this institution
did not think about, Bugg had to begin introducing into this environment.
And that made a lot of people uncomfortable--a lot of people had grown
up here in the past life of the institution. And there was this whole
group of new faculty who were coming, myself included, sort of young
turks who had been brought up on these values in their graduate schools.
But also for a lot of us, we saw this as a very happy compromise between
an institution that valued teaching and valued scholarship and had not
gone overboard as other places have done where teaching is of minor
value. Here, there's a greater equality between the two and a notion
that everybody can't do everything. And it's interesting. In thirty
years, I've seen us come into a cycle where we started as this primarily
teaching institution, and we developed a very potent research program.
Now teaching is again assuming a greater part of our attention-the teaching-learning
process-and part of that is directly attributable to the success we've
had with distance education and TELETECHNET. And in a larger sense,
I think that same revolution is going on in higher education generally-that
more and more attention is being placed on teaching and instruction,
not just research. There's a better balance now. I think it's taken
that thirty-year cycle to come around again here.
Or maybe it's a different cycle, but teaching is definitely emerging
again as a primary focus. So Bugg laid a lot of those foundations, and
he made people uncomfortable. There were a lot of jokes about "urban
this" and "urban that." You know, "What's urban art? Are we gonna study
manhole covers? Are we gonna look at graffiti?" And on and on. There
was a lot of craziness here. But it was symptomatic of a community that
was going through change. And a lot of those people made it, and they
retired. The English Department was full of people who called themselves
mossbacks and said, "We're not gonna change." And by God, even they
5. Could you talk about the issues Old Dominion faced on racial integration
with Norfolk State and the Office of Civil Rights in the 1970s?
We had some real tough problems to deal with in 1979 with the desegregation
of higher education and issues as they emerged here when the Office
of Civil Rights and Virginia and several other states were made parts
of the Adams case. The dual system of education was going to be dismantled
in Virginia. Something curious happened. The then-governor, John Dalton,
decided that the problem didn't exist anyplace else except here in Hampton
Roads, or Tidewater. Other institutions were held harmless from dealing
with this issue, by and large. And it was Old Dominion and Norfolk State,
and ultimately Tidewater Community College, that joined forces in sort
of self-protection to deal with this issue and to deal with the Office
of Civil Rights. That began a process that stuff goes on of cooperation
between the two institutions. But it was born out of necessity and self-preservation.
We went through a very tough decision process of eliminating programs
here, and they eliminated programs there.
And we traded programs and got down to curricula offering degree programs
that, even though for them to offer and for us to offer. But that started
a whole line of cooperation with Norfolk State and joint degree programs,
student and faculty exchange. The bus that goes back and forth was born
in that era. That's another feature that Old Dominion has developed
over time. It cooperates with almost everybody-that's another part of
our culture here, I think. Whether it's Norfolk State University or
TCC or Eastern Virginia Medical School, you name it, we've got some
kind of relationship with them. And again it's an easy and natural part
of this institution. It's no stretch for us to start a program with
somebody. And TELETECHNET is just an expression of that. It's another
one of those long-term values that's now seeing itself explicated in
a different way. But that was a real crucible for the institution's
growing up very rapidly and dealing with very tough problems. Al Rollins
has some real insights into this because he sat right there at the table.
And Chuck Burgess-he and his counterpart, Paul Moore, from Norfolk State
had one very productive meeting where they settled a lot of the issues
in a hotel room in Atlanta. It's a fascinating history in itself, the
relationship between the two institutions. And a lot of it ultimately
fell on the two presidents, Harrison Wilson and Al Rollins, to make
these things work.
And it was the kind of things that, even when I was sitting in a meeting
representing the president when I was acting provost here, and Harrison
was representing Norfolk State-for example, we have this organization
called CHROME that was developed, which was the Cooperating Hampton
Roads Organization for Minority Engineering, to provide opportunities
for minority high school kids and women to get involved in science and
engineering. Well, there was an issue on the table about providing a
place and a budget for this organization, and the cooperation was such
that Harrison would look at me and I looked at him. And he said, well
let's do something, and before we left the room we had agreed that we
would provide a space for them on one of our campuses, that we would
provide budget resources and it would be a joint responsibility. And
it wasn't a big deal, all kinds of negotiation. Same thing with the
Hampton Roads Naval ROTC unit, when we built that.
We built this unique concept-a single Navy ROTC unit supported by
three institutions each being co-owners, two public, one private, two
historically black, one historically white, with the express mission
of bringing on-line, not only a quality stream of men and women to serve
as officers, but a quality line of African American men and women, and
other minorities. And it's still the only unit like it in the country.
And it's now the largest unit in the country. And there were lots of
people in the Navy who thought that this would never fly. And it's been
a very, very successful operation. But those are examples. And you've
got the M. A. and the M. F. A. in Visual Studies, which is now probably
twenty-five years old, that's a joint program. The M. A. in Applied
Sociology, which is almost that old. And it's not to say that there
hasn't been problems-the problems have just been worked out. There's
no hostility. We even discontinued one joint program together because
it didn't have enough enrollment.
It wasn't a tough decision to come to-it was a logical decision that
two partners made about one of their ventures that wasn't working. And
so the same thing's happened with EVMS over the years: the doctoral
program in biomedical sciences, all the joint research, the joint operational
things we do with EVMS-the joint security, using each other's faculty.
We haven't come to this one yet but it's going to happen-at some point
we're going to find the right person, and we want to have a joint appointment
between the two institutions. It's a little harder to pull off but they
have some faculty needs like we do. We just have to find someone who's
willing to live between the two institutions.
6. What role do you feel Old Dominion has played in the Hampton Roads
community over the years?
It was always part of the culture of this university to be involved
with this community. The community's just gotten bigger. So what I see
now, thirty years later, is an institution that has pretty much kept
the values that it had about being the kind of institution dedicated
to serve its region, and it has really expanded on that vision using
technology and taking on new challenges in instruction using satellite
technology, for example. And in its research, it's always had an applied
nature to it. The kind of things I see going on with the College of
Engineering and the College of Sciences, working with modeling and simulation-it's
all applied to the development of business and industry in this region,
helping resolve their problems. Research in the social sciences and
arts and humanities-it's all addressing issues that are part of the
community's fabric here, the social and cultural and economic fabric.
Economic development is not a new thing for us. The institution was
put here sort of deliberately by the influentials in Norfolk, not so
much because they had a value for higher education, but they saw the
value of having an institution of higher education in their midst for
a variety of reasons-one very important one being because it would add
to the economic strength and value of this region. We encountered the
same thing with the city of Virginia Beach when I was involved with
developing the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center. Because to them,
they saw its presence as a central part of their economic development
strategy. Interestingly enough, with the TELETECHNET sites spread across
the state, many communities have taken Old Dominion on as an economic
development partner. It's always been part of what we've done.
Look back at the early history of the institution. It was training
men and women in a variety of skills that would contribute to the economy.
What we've done has changed, but the why of the contribution is still
the same. I think there's a lot of consistency that I've seen with the
development of worked with. And we've all kind of caught the spirit
of this place, and all helped build it in different ways. Koch inherited-despite
all the turmoil that preceded him with the firing of President Marchello
and the interim presidency by Bill Spong-he inherited an institution
with some real strengths that he could then capitalize on. And probably
one of the things that this institution has always attracted is a faculty
that really is very adept at changing and being ready and willing to
take on creative challenges. There are a lot of places I'm convinced
you could never make something as radical as TELETECHNET work. I'd like
to see you try it at William and Mary or the University of Virginia.
But here you've got a faculty that buys into it. And I've seen this
over and over again in all sorts of initiatives. Whether it's building
a research program for the university or getting involved in televised
instruction very early with the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Network.
In fact, we even pre-date that. Back in the 70s, maybe early 80s, we
did some radio on PBS. And again, it wasn't a stretch for anybody. It
was all kind of natural. Working with the businesses downtown or with
the shipyard or with the military-it's part of the way things are here.
And we've attracted people who buy into that kind of environment. There's
lots of change. This institution has changed more times in thirty years
in terms of things that it has reached out to do than any comparable
one in this region. Maybe Norfolk State is comparable. But certainly
if you take an established institution like William and Mary, they've
barely changed at all compared to what we've done. Not to say they're
They're good at what they do and we're good at what we do. But we took
on a vision that we were going to be a responsive institution. And what
was popular then was the urban university-now the metropolitan university.
That says something very special about what we are, what our goals and
our values are. We're basically here for one reason, and that's to serve
the folks in this region. And we do other things as well and we do them
on a national and international level, but that's still our primary
focus. So when the city of Virginia Beach needs to have support in the
development of a higher education center, or there's a need for development
on the Peninsula, we go out and do that, and it's not a big deal. It's
been my experience for thirty years that we've always had this intimate
relationship with the community.
It's sort of our reason for being. And that's not fancy ideology, that's
not great philosophy. That's just a good practical reason why you need
a university. And the communities here, they've come to understand the
role the university plays. What we have been about is educating the
leadership, we've been providing educated men and women for leadership
in government, in professional life. And as we've matured, our influence
has gotten to be larger and larger. Lots of influential positions in
this area are filled with people who are graduates of the Norfolk Division
of the College of William and Mary. Now they're being replaced by graduates
of Old Dominion College. And they'll be replaced by graduates of the
In all the areas that affect Hampton Roads. It used to be very difficult
to find an Old Dominion graduate in an influential place, because they
were young. And there weren't many of them. But they're older now and
they've been seasoned, and they are leaders all over. Old Dominion has
an almost adolescent attitude, a we-can-do-anything attitude, and I
hope we never grow up. I hope we never acquire traditions because then
we'd have to say, "We don't do that here." It's a dynamic place, and
I hope it never becomes geriatric."