NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – In Old Dominion University President Dr. Brian Hemphill’s first State of the University address Friday morning, he highlighted faculty and student success and laid the groundwork for ODU’s future. 

Dr. Hemphill detailed the five-year strategic plan that is set to be implemented around January 2023. He said there will be some bold initiatives. The plan, titled “Forward-Focused: Where Innovation Meets Possibilities,” will outline the short-term focus and long-term success of the university. 

The university will focus on student success but also initiatives that will strengthen the workplace in Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth. He recognized in his remarks the “unbelievable efforts to push ourselves and each other beyond.”

“We are a public university. It has to be an able public good and the duties and responsibilities we have to serve this community,” he said.

ODU has the second most Virginia undergraduates in S.T.E.M-H programs. The university has data science, cyber security and maritime operations programs. In the State of University, Dr. Hemphill announced resources going into the programs.

The School of Data Science is in its final proposal stages. The school partners with Jefferson Lab and NASA Langlet to give students unique experiences.

The School of Cybersecurity has received a prestigious designation as a National Security Agency Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The university received $3.9 million from the National Science Foundation. The money allows 13 students to be inducted into ODU’s Cyber Leaders program. It offers them a full scholarship, stipends and professional development. The program guarantees them a job in the federal government.

The School of Supply Chain, Logistics and Maritime Operation is a new addition to the university.

“We have a responsibility and duty to work with our industry leaders. We work with other companies to make sure we are providing them with the workforce they need. That is a high-demand area,” Dr. Hemphill said.

ODU has also focused on health science. The universities research efforts received a Research 1 status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. 

One initiative is to integrate EVMS, Sentara and ODU to become a “hub of excellence.” The partnership would bring an academic health science center. The center will result in a higher number of academic programs and the largest enrollment in health science in the Commonwealth. It will also grow the workplace pipeline.

“We are going to continue to step forward and be that leader in the region to drive this economy.”

Dr. Hemphill told 10 On Your Side the university had to shift after the pandemic.

“People are questioning the cost of higher education. They are questioning the rising student loan debt,” he said.

He said ODU had to plan to get ahead of the mindset change.

“If we aren’t responsive, they are going to find other resources,” Dr. Hemphill said.

During the pandemic, he said people were searching for other methods of education.

 “You have a number of companies and corporations that are providing credentials,” the university president said.

Dr. Hemphill said the university will continue to be a leader in online education. He said the university has its eye on the future.

“We are a forward-focused institution that truly looks at the innovative possibilities,” he said.

Aside from the new academic developments, ODU is building a new baseball stadium.

The president said complaints came in after the baseball team couldn’t host the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Dennis Ellmer, president and CEO of Priority Automotive, gifted $2.5 million

Dr. Hemphill ended his speech with, “the possibilities are endless.”