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Alfred B. Rollins served as the third President of Old Dominion University from 1976-1985, after which he taught in the History Departrment until his retirement in 1991. The interview discusses his background, his agenda for the growth of the University, cooperation with Norfolk State to integrate ODU, development of the arts, programs for Womens Studies and International Studies, and growth of the women's basketball program, among many other accomplishments.

Oral History Interview

Norfolk, Virginia
February 15, 1999
by Julie Hale

Audio unavailable

See Also University Presidents Exhibit


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 in Virginia.

3: When you came to Old Dominion, what did you perceive as your greatest challenges?

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 been helpful.

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 of Education.

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 excellent job.

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 tickets.

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 like that.

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 it.

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.

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