1: Could you talk a little bit about your background and education?
I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. My father was a minister. I went
to public school and I went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut,
which is very much like Washington and Lee. It's a small, liberal arts
college. Then the war came along, and I went in the Air Force as a bomber
pilot and flew fifty missions out of Italy and Germany and the Balkans.
I received a distinguished flying cross. I was sufficiently destructive,
I think! But I had very mixed feelings about the war, even though we
felt it was a good war in the sense that we desperately wanted to put
an end to Hitler. I was a pacifist at heart and ended up being a bomber
pilot. The two things just don't go together. Then, when I got out,
the G. I. Bill saved me. I would've been an insurance salesman or something
like that, but I was able to go to graduate school on the G. I. Bill.
My first wife and I married in '42. She was a med-tech at a hospital
in Boston. I went to Harvard and got my Ph.D. in history with a specialization
in American history. I had to leave before I did my dissertation because
we ran out of money, and because my wife got sick of. . . she wanted
to settle down. We took a job at a teacher's college in New York state
in a place called New Paltz. We lived in that village for nineteen years,
and the college eventually became part of the State University of New
York. The last four years, although we kept our house there, I worked
at the State University Center in Binghamton. I was chairman of the
history department. Then I went to Vermont to become the Dean of the
College of Arts and Sciences. And then I became Vice President of Academic
Affairs. We were in Vermont for nine years.
2: What were some of the differences between Old Dominion and the
University of Vermont?
That's an interesting question. Well, the major contrast was that
this institution was thinking of itself as an urban university, and
in those days we were all gung-ho to make universities in the cities
begin to serve the needs of the city. There was even a whole social
issue of urban universities. It became kind of unpopular later on. Partly
because of the white flight all over the country. But when I came here
it was thought of as an urban university. And although-and that was
very different-and although the University of Vermont was in the largest
city in Vermont at that time, that largest city had only 37,000 people.
It was a big village. And the University of Vermont was the state university.
Pretty much like Virginia Tech, only smaller. That was another contrast-the
University of Vermont had only 7500 students, and when I came here already
ODU had 11 or 12,000, or something like that.
Another contrast was that the University of Vermont was one of the
oldest universities in the country, with a lot of traditions and ODU
was one of the newest. I think before I was finished we were already
beginning the move to stake out the ground as the regional university
3: When you came to Old Dominion, what did you perceive as your greatest
It was very specific because the trustees had an agenda, and it was
an agenda that I happened to agree with. You have to remember that at
that point in 1976, Old Dominion was terrifically undeveloped. Physically,
the mall had just been finished, for example. And most of the outlying
land was still housing. But it was also undeveloped in other ways. There
was, I would say, a five-point agenda that everyone was pretty much
agreed on. The first point was to make it into a real university. It
had been a college started by Lewis Webb. Jim Bugg managed to get the
state to approve the concept of a university, and he started to build
the graduate programs. Incidentally, I want to say that one of the great
things about my coming here was that I could build on a very, very solid
base that Lewis Webb and Jim Bugg had built. The two of them had done
an extraordinary job of building this institution.
Well, anyway-making it a real university. A second, very rigid agenda
was to develop student services because there were virtually no student
services on campus. There was a primitive student government. The Webb
Center was there, but there was no student participation in the management
of it. There was no counseling system, no health service, no Women's
Center, no international student center. They weren't there. The man
who has built them all was Assistant Dean of Students when I came on
deck, Dana Burnett. He literally built all the present student services.
That was an easy job for me because everyone agreed that it had to be
done. And Dana is a great builder.
A third agenda was the development of the athletic program. And people
interested in athletics were among the strongest supporters of the university
at that point. But there was a sub-agenda that particularly appealed
to me, and that was the development of women's athletic programs. And
I take a lot of personal pride in helping get the women's programs off
the ground, particularly women's basketball-that's one of my biggest
prides. It was one of my big deals because I'd grown-I'm 77 years old-and
I'd come up through the women's movement. My first wife was denied the
opportunity to go to graduate school because she was a woman. She went
to the University of Connecticut, and they simply wouldn't recommend
her because they said, "This is a waste of scarce resources." And so
she worked as a med-tech when she really had the qualifications to go
on and do doctorate work and become a bacteriologist. My second wife
[Dr. Rollins lost two wives to cancer] was my wife when I came here,
Faith K. Prior. She was a consumer economist and she was on the faculty
at the University of Vermont. And she didn't accept any inequality.
She was a tough fighter. My third wife is younger than I am and she
just assumes women's rights and asks, "What's the problem?' She's been
a free-lance photographer all of her life. Her name is Helen Jones.
One of her indications of independence is that she refused to take my
name when we were married. But that's a footnote to partly
explain my attitudes. I came here after, with a strong feeling of support
for women's rights and I tried to play a strong role in the development
of equality for the faculty and staff with the development of the Women's
Center and, of course, the women's basketball program. And it took some
doing at the start to convince everybody of these things.
The fourth part of the agenda was fund-raising-increase the state
appropriation of private funds. And finally, racial integration. I came
here in 1976, and the Supreme Court rulings on racial integration had
already been made, and Virginia was already part of a group of southern
states under federal court order to provide equal opportunity. So the
university bad few black students when I came here. But one of the high
priorities was to integrate this university without causing too much
trouble. And I feel very good about that. I think that's happened. It's
happened fairly smoothly, I think. Now a sub-piece of that racial integration
was the conflict with Norfolk State that I really didn't know anything
about when I came here. But that doesn't really belong in this statement.
I saw all of these things as a major challenge, but a perfectly doable
challenge. It was neat. We were still in a period when higher education
around the country was growing. State legislatures were reasonably friendly
about money. So it was fun. There were problems. But it was fun to be
present here during nine years when the place was growing.
Now there were some sub-agendas. The campus was just beginning to look
like a campus. One of our major problems in my day was to get the state
to buy the land. I think one of the things that I thought was going
to be a problem was the fact that I was a Yankee. And when I first interviewed
for the job I couldn't imagine that a state university in Virginia would
be interested in a northern candidate. Particularly because I bad a
reputation as a liberal democrat. But that turned out not to be a problem.
For some reason-and I think I know the reason-virtually all of the presidents
acquired in Virginia during that period were northerners, and nobody
wanted to say so, but I think it had something to do with racial integration.
Maybe it was just that this was the first time they felt free to look
outside the nest. But anyway, a bunch of us northerners came in and
inherited the job of racial integration.
Another problem that was and still is a problem was the lack of-I shouldn't
say lack of public support, but modest public support. The problem was
that Old Dominion was everybody's second love. Starting with the legislature.
Virtually everyone in the legislature had gone to Virginia Tech, the
University of Virginia, or William and Mary, or Washington and Lee.
I think when I came here there was no member of the legislature who
was an alumnus of ODU. Later on, before I retired, there were a few.
But even the local legislators-you'd go to Tom Moss and want support
for Old Dominion, and he'd be very helpful, but he was an enthusiastic
Virginia Tech alumnus. Owen Pickett the same way. Owen was in the legislature
at that time. So it was a major problem to begin to establish Old Dominion
as a major responsibility and a major joy for politicians. But there
were a handful of very strong leaders in the legislature from Tidewater
who really did an awful lot of good, bard work for this university.
A key person was Stanley Walker, who is now president pro tempore of
the Senate. We loved Stanley because he had not graduated from college
and he did not-Stanley inherited the business from his father, who was
a substantial businessman in Norfolk-Stanley didn't have any prior loyalties
to Virginia Tech. So he was able to adopt Old Dominion! And Stanley
has been for twenty-five years one of the city people in the state Senate
who has worked for us. And another person is Cleaves Manning. He was
in the legislature and then became a judge and retired.
He was chairman of the Education Sub-committee of Appropriations when
I was president, and Cleaves was an alumnus of Old Dominion and he played
a major role in developing our funding here. And Tom Moss has always
But the same thing was true in the community. The big bank which is
now Sovereign and was then Virginia National Bank, for example-the man
who later became president of that bank was on our board, Bucky Gornto.
Bucky's bank would turn to us for entry-level employees from our business
school. But when they wanted a training seminar or something like that
for their members, they'd go to UVA. And it was sort of, we were everybody's
second cousin. So the job was really a job to establish the importance
of the university. I remember one fight I was involved in at the state
level was to insist that the formulas for state support for out-of-state
students be at least as good for us as they were for UVA. They got much
more money for each out of state student than Old Dominion did. Incidentally,
Lewis Webb, who invented this place, used to say that his great ambition
was that the day would come when whenever you mentioned the university
in Norfolk, everybody would think of Old Dominion.
But I didn't see great problems when I came, except for the problem
of getting to know an entire community. My wife and I had been active
nationally and traveled all over the country and had a lot of professional
friends, but we didn't have anyone particularly in Virginia. My only
experience had been at Langley Field for about three or four months
during the war, so I had memories of Norfolk as a sailors' town I saw
briefly in 1944. Otherwise, I didn't know the town very well, so it
was a matter of getting acquainted right from the start. And I did what
I think was a smart thing. Not everyone would agree. I kept virtually
all the administrative staff that were here. My philosophy's always
been to give people a chance and if they're not the people you need,
then you gradually move them out. Some other presidents would come in
and just fire everybody and start all over again. But in my case I think
it was smart not to because the people already on deck understood the
world around here. David Shufflebarger -- he was administrative assistant
to the president and then became eventually vice president of university
relations. He's now in Georgia I think. But David grew up in Hampton
and just knew everybody and everything about this area. He just saved
my neck. He introduced me to the right people. He was very, very helpful,
as were many other people in the administration. And they weren't getting
paid very well. The salaries were low here. I came here for $50,000
as president, which I think is about a third of what the president is
getting paid now. You have to understand-of course there's been a lot
of inflation since-and attitudes toward university presidents have changed
since then. I think most boards of trustees now think of the president
of a university in corporate terms; they tend to compare it with the
salaries and responsibilities of a major banking corporation.
We didn't have a lot of money to spend on anything else. I just marvel
at the buildings and grounds these days. The campus looks just wonderful-it's
great. We were getting along with retired navy guys; the grounds crew
was headed up by a retired navy petty officer who had a truck of his
own. He built a little kind of rough nursery and hired a bunch of part-time
casuals. We bought our vehicles at an auction at the navy base. It was
an old-fashioned, hands-on operation. It's very different now.
4: Could you talk about the situation ODU was faced with in the 1970s
concerning racial integration-bringing the university up to par-and the
need to avoid duplication of programs with Norfolk State?
It was very delicate and it was very. . . I use the words exciting
and challenging. That doesn't mean I loved it. It was exciting. It was
like being in combat-a familiar feeling for me. Behind the scenes it
happened in a very rough way. We all knew that Virginia was under federal
court orders to avoid duplication of facilities. And we all had seen
what had happened in some other states-I know that in Nashville, for
example, they merged the white institution and the black institution,
and virtually all the whites left. In Savannah-I visited Savannah to
see this-they took the School of Education out of the black institution
and the School of Business out of the white institution and figured
the students would have to move. Well, they didn't. The black students
didn't want to have to go to teacher training at the white institution,
and the white students did not want to go to the business school at
the black institution. So they just lost literally thousand of enrollments.
And obviously some students were denied the opportunity to go to college
because there aren't a lot of other institutions around Savannah. So
we all knew this stuff and as a matter of fact, Harrison Wilson, who
was president of Norfolk State, had been an administrator in Nashville
and had seen close up what had happened there. But we mostly sat around
waiting on that score because the state government was dragging its
heels. And then a new governor, John Dalton, a Republican, came in and
decided the state was paying too high a price trying to fight the federal
government on this issue, and that he would try to settle-get out of
court on the issue. So he started negotiations with HEW [the Department
of Health, Education and Welfare]. Well, he ran into a problem because
the way things are organized in Virginia, the colleges are under the
control of boards of visitors. Now, the governor has a lot of authority,
and everybody has to pay attention to him, but he cannot give direct
orders about programs and faculty to a state institution. The governor
appoints the members of the board, and then the members of the board
decide about the programs. Over the years since then, over the last
twenty years, there has grown up more and more state control and state
coordinating commissions. The State Council of Higher Education has
a lot of authority now, but it's still true that the governor cannot
reach down and say, "Drop this program, drop that program."
Governor Dalton called us into Richmond on short notice without telling
us what it was all about-"us" meaning the rectors of the two universities
and the two presidents, Harrison Wilson and myself. The two rectors
happened to be both women-Dorothy Doumar, who is the wife of a federal
judge, and Polly Maloney. And the governor sat us down and said, "Well,
we now have this problem and we've decided to settle with the federal
government on the problem but we can't do anything about the programs.
And if the federal people say there are forty programs between Norfolk
State and Old Dominion which duplicate each other and they want us to
get rid of that duplication, well, I'm sorry-that's your job. You've
got to get rid of the duplication." He gave us very short notice, and
the four of us talked extensively about it and we agreed that we didn't
want what happened in Nashville and Savannah to happen here. We agreed
that we wanted to save the two institutions. We also agreed to pursue
racial integration at both institutions-we would try to recruit black
students and they would try to recruit white students.
But the program duplication was the difficult part because colleges
are run in very traditional and complex ways, and no president really
has the authority to say "we're going to drop this program." You might
get away with it, but the impact on the faculty morale would be enormous
and the impact on your ability to recruit new faculty would be terrible.
So we pledged to each other to go together and stick together on this
and try to work out a master plan that would solve the duplication problem.
And we had a small working group-two faculty members from each institution,
and two trustees, and a couple of the administrators, and we had to
meet frequently. Key faculty members really did a lot of the heavy work
of trying to explore what could be done. Jump ahead to the conclusion.
Basically, we were aided by the fact that the HEW list was faulty. They
just read the catalogues and had no real information on what was in
the programs. So we managed to show that a lot of them-more than half-were
not duplicatory at all. Let me give you just one example. We had a formal
electrical engineering program. Norfolk State had an electrical technology
program, which was really training electricians to wire a house. The
feds looked at those two programs and said, "You've got to take one
of them off. You can't have two electrical programs." It would be like
saying you've got two street programs-you've got engineers building
the streets and you've got street sweepers. You've got to get rid of
one. So we managed to show that in a lot of cases the information was
false. The duplication wasn't there. And then there was a second group
of programs which we were able to differentiate. We worked out deals.
For example, we insisted on holding on to our accredited business administration
program. Norfolk State's program had never been accredited, and they
agreed not to challenge our accreditation. They did later on when the
programs were recredited. But at that point they agreed not to do that.
There were a number of situations in which they were differentiated
in that way. But there were some that were almost impossible to crack,
and training elementary teachers was one of them. Quite obviously, neither
institution wanted to give up its School of Education. We came up with
a proposition of insisting that the programs be operated jointly. The
deal was that every education student would do part of his work at the
other institution. The idea was for students to have the opportunity
to go back and forth. And then there was a requirement that the faculty
plan programs together and that they would swap faculty. The option
would've been for one of the institutions to simply give up its School
But eventually the lawsuit was settled and the pressure was off. But
we went directly to Dr. Wilson, and I and the other board members --we
went directly to Washington to negotiate, bypassing Richmond, which
caused us some problems. The governor told us to go solve the problem.
The attorney general wasn't very happy about our going directly to Washington,
but we had managed to get hold of the situation. I feel very proud of
this, and Harrison does. It was the only situation where Old Dominion
and Norfolk State worked really closely together and worked something
out. And we were both really proud of that. I was pleased at the time
that people pretty much understood the seriousness of it. For example,
there was no substantial student or faculty protest. There was a lot
of grumbling because after all most of the people involved with the
university had worked here at a time when it was a racist institution-it
was officially a racist institution, was not allowed to be anything
else. I would not have been surprised if there had been some kind of
agitation, but there was not. Essentially the newspapers were saying,
"Let's get this thing settled." Because Norfolk had had a terrible time
with the closing of the public schools over the racial issue.
They didn't want to have that happen again. I would like to credit
some key faculty members also who just played a very statesmanlike role
in helping people understand what was at stake. I hasten to say that
together we saved the two institutions. I had my moments. As a Yankee
I had my moments when I thought we ought to just put the two institutions
together and be done with it! It was intense. It was part of the national
scene and the regional scene in the south. I am proud to have played
a role in the racial integration of Old Dominion. I am proud to have
played a role in the women's movement at Old Dominion. But I'm also
proud that we managed somehow to get through this situation in Norfolk
without destroying the two institutions. Putting the two of them together
would've been a very destructive thing.
5: When you came to Old Dominion it was your goal to build up the
arts. Was that a need that you perceived when you came on board?
My background was in the arts, and my wife, Faith, was interested in
ballet and supported the dance program. It was part of my feeling generally
that the arts and humanities people, like the science and social science
people in an urban university ought to be involved in the community.
I felt they weren't just sitting here as isolated artists who come in
from the outside and have a little piece of turf here. The problem was
not so great for the sciences and social sciences because they were
already for natural reasons kind of closely integrated into the community.
Science programs-virtually all the research at that time was being supported
by NASA and the Navy. And the oceanography program had already been
identified as one of the key quality programs as related to the community.
Then over in the social sciences, lots of people in political science
and sociology particularly were very active in community affairs, in
one way or another. And of course the entire School of Education was
interlocked with the public school system in this area. So there was
not much need in those areas for a new person to come in and say, "Hey,
you ought get out in the community." But the situation in the arts was
quite different. In the first place, they were all badly underfunded,
badly underfunded. Just scrabbling along. And so were the symphony and
the opera and the Chrysler Museum. And some others. They were all incredibly
badly underfunded as compared to modern standards. And so my pitch was:
why can't we all get together. I made a pitch specifically, for example,
for music. Why can't we build a music department here along with the
symphony and the opera so that we could bring in first-rate players
and teachers from the outside?
I think some of the people in the arts in the university were afraid
of the community. Some people were afraid the community would use the
university as a mine of money to support their enterprises. We were
never able to build the cooperative attitude that would've been necessary.
And so until very recently, there was virtually no contact between the
music department and professional musicians. A few people-one violin
teacher in the music department played in the symphony. But mostly not.
But now I feel the situation has much improved with new people coming
in the last few years.
The decision to put the university art gallery downtown was part of
the urban outlook. There was no space on campus. The art department
was dominated when I came here by Charles Sibley, who is a great painter.
But they've given up the gallery downtown now. I don't know what's happened.
The speech department did more reaching out. And there was some trouble
from the theater community here in town who resented the university
being out there. We leased the Riverview Theater over on Granby Street
because we didn't have space on campus. We ran the theater there for
ten or a dozen years, I thought very successfully. But there were the
usual frictions that all universities have as they get away from their
traditional roles of teaching young students and begin to act like intellectual
and research centers for the whole community.
But I made a pitch for outreach in the arts because it seemed to be
needed. And I think it failed. I think in the long run. . . it is happening
now. Virtually everyone on the music faculty is involved with music
downtown in some way or other. And they're all stronger because of it.
But it took some time to break down the defensiveness. Essentially I
was coming in as a new president and saying, "We ought to have a new
direction here." And the people in the various departments were saying,
"No. Just give us the money. We'll know how to spend it." And I said,
"No, if you do the same old things you've always done, you'll have the
same old financing you've always had."
I know the Aments [Istvan and Neli Ament, directors of the Dance Department
at ODU] very well. They've done a fantastic job of winning public support
for the dance program. They've certainly built it, and they have the
support for it. And I think the theater people consistently have maintained
a strong and outward-looking program. They've sometimes been criticized
for looking more like a community group than a university group. In
terms of their using professional or semi-professional actors rather
than simply students. But this was a decision at the beginning that
Paul Dicklin made, and it fitted nicely with the concept of the urban
university, that the university should be a center of drama, bringing
good plays to the community. And when he did that, there was virtually
no professional drama around. I think the present staff are doing an
6: The International Studies Master's degree was established in 1978.
Was that part of another initiative of yours?
Yes. One of the major initiatives was to develop graduate programs
and move toward doctorate programs. And I've lost track of the numbers,
but we did increase the number of doctorate programs very substantially.
And the international program was one of them. It was related to the
basic difference between a university and a college. Nowadays it's hard
to find anything being a college because every little former teacher's
college in the world is persuading the legislature to call it a university.
So the university term doesn't mean that much now. But as recently as
when we were working in 1976, 1977, the word "university" meant an institution
that had a very substantial research program, public service program,
and these were both related to substantial doctorate programs. So one
way to identify that this place was a university and not just a college
was to build a strong array of doctorate programs which would not only
bring more advanced scholars to the university, but would also bring
a lot of research and graduate students.
And a national and international reputation. Now there's a political
problem with this because the University of Virginia, and William and
Mary, but mostly the University of Virginia, was strongly opposed to
the development of doctorate programs in this institution. And they
opposed us right and left in the legislature. If you look at the doctorate
programs in the social sciences and education, you'll see that they
have the word "urban" attached to them, and people get doctoral degrees
in urban services administration and that sort of thing. Now when you
look at them closely, you discover that they are really doctorate programs
in political science and education and so forth. What's all this business
of urban services? Well, it was basically political. People in the state
council were saying you cannot have doctorate programs in the social
sciences and humanities because you're wasting the resources of the
state doing the same sorts of things that the University of Virginia
and William and Mary are doing. So we had to devise something that at
least looked different. And we made the argument-I don't mean to be
too cynical about this. It is political, but it was also something real.
We made the argument that the traditional doctoral programs did not
meet the needs of the urban areas. And that we were going to have specialized
doctoral programs, which would be designed to meet the employment needs
of the area. For example, we'd be turning out people who could work
for regional planning agencies, city governments, that sort of thing,
and public school administrators who were sympathetic to urban problems.
And there were some details in these programs that required people to
have some work in more than one area-they couldn't just have work in
economics, for example. A lot of faculty members were upset about this.
But this was the only way that they could have doctoral programs. And
they're still dealing with that, although I suspect that many of them
have come to look seriously like old-fashioned, traditional doctoral
programs. One of the parts of it that appealed to me most was that these
programs were going to require an internship. They were going to require
that the student go out and work at the profession they were preparing
for. In a sense they were more professional degrees than the traditional
Ph.D. degrees, which were designed to train scholars. So that's my version
of why we have urban services Ph D degrees. The other person who can
tell you about it is David Hager, because he was graduate dean at the
time and actually did all the hard work in developing the programs.
7: The Women's Studies program was started not long after you came
here, and the Women's Center was already in place. Was there opposition
on the part of the faculty towards these facilities for women?
The Women's Center was started just before I came here. But yes, there
was opposition. And this happened all over the country. For example,
people, when we were developing a counseling center for students, people
would say, "Why do you need a Women's Center? Why can't the Counseling
Center take care of this"-you know, take care of this thing of women
needing counseling. And why should women have special help in learning
how to study or whatever.
Well, of course, the answer was that they weren't getting their shake
at all under the male-dominated operation. The Women's Studies program,
well, all over the country there was opposition to these programs which
were not traditional academic disciplines. There was a lot of opposition
to black studies programs and the women's studies programs, and the
opposition tended to link them together and say, "We're just feeding
dissension and differences this way." You know, these arguments are
still going on. The movement for a women's studies program was led by
a number of women, chiefly Carolyn Rhodes. When I came here, she had
a group negotiating with Chuck Burgess on some of these hardcore issues
of salary inequities and whatnot. We were having the same discussions
in Vermont, and they were going on all over the country. Old Dominion
was a little behind the game. A lot of other institutions were ahead
in these areas. But attempts were being made to meet some real issues
and real problems that were being raised all over the country and had
not been faced before. This had been quite a quiet campus, at least
by my standards, a quiet campus during the period of what I call "student
interest," when students used to be excited enough about something to
protest. Now, nobody seems to be excited about anything. To some extent,
we were playing catch-up here on some of these social issues. I think
maybe on the racial issue we were a little ahead of the game in the
sense that we were trying-a lot of well-motivated people in both institutions
were trying to find a creative, constructive solution to the problem
without smashing everything up.
8: Do you remember the park-in led by students in protest of parking
conditions during the winter of 1980? It was led by Student Body President
Gordon McDougall and ended with students setting fire to their parking
I remember it vaguely. That's what I mean by the place was sort of
quiet. I remember realizing that it was a great mistake on my part to
continue to maintain a reserved parking space because of that. My successor,
Joe Marchello, was more sensible on that score. He just put the president's
parking spot around the back. I used to get grief from people who would
say, "I've seen your parking space was empty all week. Where have you
been?" Jim Bugg left me two things of some importance in the president's
office. One was a hard hat and the other was a bullhorn. And I never
had to use either one! My instinct was always to negotiate over things
9: Looking back over your nine-year term, what accomplishments are
you proudest of?
Some of the things that were accomplished were matters of quality-increasing
faculty salaries; decreasing loads; Ph.D. programs; research. Building
the library-Jim Bugg got the library building built, but we put every
cent of money we could lay our hands on into library books. And generally
moving toward being a university in the national context, nationally
competitive. Encouraging faculty to go to national meetings and encouraging
them to publish and be known.
We tried to hire people who were actively doing research. So that
general area-increasing the quality of academics. And then in the student
area, increasing the quality of student services. We really did build
up the athletic program, and we built up the counseling center. International
studies. We built Powhatan Apartments and Midrise. And then finally-a
third area of public responsibility, with Norfolk State and the racial
integration thing, and working on the concept of the urban and regional
university. But one other thing we haven't mentioned is the Consortium,
the regional consortium. That was designed to sort of be a policeman
for the various institutions. The state was concerned with our competing
with each other wastefully, wasting state money. And the Consortium
was developed, and is still active, to coordinate all these off-campus
programs. Dr. Dotolo has been the force behind that all these years.
But that's the institution we've used to keep UVA and Old Dominion and
William and Mary from going head-on. Now, though, it is clear that we
have more freedom to have teaching centers off in Portsmouth and in
Virginia Beach than we used to. Used to be, we weren't allowed to teach
anything over on the Peninsula because of William and Mary. But the
Consortium was important to establish confidence at the state level
that we weren't wasting state money, and at the same time make it possible
for us to have large ambitions.
People sometimes ask me what I was personally proudest of in terms
of my own personal achievement. You have to say that presidents of universities
cannot really accomplish very much of anything in their own time. Part
of the job of being president is simply helping people accomplish something-or
getting in their way. But if you were to ask me, "What are you personally
proud of," there's two things I really feel that I did that wouldn't
have happened. One was the successful women's basketball program. Because
I was able to raise the student athletic fee modestly and say, "All
of this money is going into women's athletics. It's not going to be
used for the men's program."
The other thing was not quite so popular and that was the writing
requirement for the degree. The faculty debated that for some years.
I finally had enough complaints from downtown about students who were
good nurses and good engineers, but they couldn't write a letter applying
for a job. And so we announced that fall-it was 1975 or 1976-that writing
was going to be a requirement for the degrees. We appointed a taskforce,
headed by Lucy Wilson, Harrison Wilson's wife, who was then an associate
vice president. Those two things I don't think would've happened without
me. Everything else would have. You grease the wheels or you put in
road blocks. But it was a great time. It was exciting to be part of
10: How do you feel Old Dominion's presence has changed Hampton Roads?
In what areas do you perceive its influence?
One of the most obvious things that people forget about is that a big
university brings into a community hundreds of extremely well-educated,
sophisticated people, most of whom are solid citizens and want to contribute
to that citizenship. And one of the most obvious areas is in the School
of Education. But it's more than that.
I've forgotten how many faculty we have, but these are all people who
wouldn't be here if it weren't for the university. So the existence
of the university itself the people-of course, that's all a university
is, is people. The people in the university are an enormously positive
influence on the society. And you could probably chase it into support
for the symphony, support for the public schools, and so on.
A second level is intellectual/scientific support for the economic
community, for industry, business and the military services in this
area. An enormous amount of the university's time goes into doing research
for NASA, for the Navy, for the Air Force. And from time to time, I'll
hear somebody say something very true, and that is, when they're recruiting
major executives from out of state, one of the things they have to show
is that there is a substantial university in the region providing educational
opportunities for employees of the business and their children, providing
a stable atmosphere in which the business can operate.
This region is essentially a military region, and Old Dominion would
not be here if the Navy weren't here. I think a very specific contribution
is being the basic educational arm of the military service in this area.
Now, it's true they use a lot of other universities, run extension programs
out of Florida or someplace. But basically we are the Navy's university
in this area.
Top of page