John R. Broderick
John R. Broderick, Old Dominion University’s eighth president, doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and serving hot dogs at a University picnic. A constant presence on campus, whether it is to escort a visitor, walk his dog, or attend athletic and cultural events, he has developed a reputation as a friendly, approachable president. But he is all business when it comes to his insistence on forging progress at Old Dominion, solving real-world problems, and building on the region’s strengths.
Under his leadership since 2008, Old Dominion has emerged as a research leader in fields from cybersecurity to bioelectrics, where the University is pioneering advances in cancer treatment and cardiac procedures. The University established the Center for the Study of Sea Level Rise in 2010, elevating Old Dominion to the top tier in addressing a significant environmental problem. Since then, Old Dominion has broadened its approach with the creation of the multidisciplinary Resiliency Collaborative. Last year President Broderick was featured in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education focusing on Old Dominion’s resiliency efforts.
During his tenure, Old Dominion has received more than $800 million in new public and private resources. The value of the University’s endowment has risen to $250 million, as of June 30, 2018. Old Dominion is pursuing a $250 million fundraising initiative to increase resources for scholarships, faculty research, and academic centers, among other areas.
But bucking the “bigger is better” movement, President Broderick has held Old Dominion’s enrollment to approximately 24,000 to maximize the quality of the student experience.
To improve academic achievement, the University constructed a $10 million Student Success Center and Learning Commons. In 2017, Old Dominion recorded the highest graduation rate in its history. The University also has the second-largest percentage of degrees awarded in STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math, and health care) fields among Virginia’s research universities.
In 2013, Old Dominion received an $11 million gift from alumnus Mark Strome to create the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, expanding entrepreneurial initiatives for students inside and outside the classroom. In 2017, Old Dominion opened THE Monarch Way, a unique retail store run by students and selling the products of student, alumni, faculty, and staff entrepreneurs.
Last fall, Old Dominion launched an expansion of health sciences offerings at its Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, with an increase in nursing classes and the creation of a center focusing on the cutting edge field of telehealth. Later phases will include a School of Public Health, primary care clinic, and substance abuse prevention center. The University also plans a new $75 million health sciences building on its main campus in Norfolk in the next several years.
Also last year, Old Dominion opened the Barry Art Museum, funded by a $37 million donation, the largest in the University’s history, from Richard and Carolyn Barry. The museum is positioned to be one of the region’s major cultural destinations.
Old Dominion’s dining facility, which opened in 2016, is named the Kate and John R. Broderick Dining Commons at the request of student leaders to honor the president and his wife, Kate Broderick, for their commitment to inclusion and student success.
The Board of Visitors also renamed the University’s Diversity Champion Award for the president in 2013 to recognize his commitment to diversity and inclusion, which has helped create a vibrant, multicultural campus. In the fall of 2018, Old Dominion enrolled nearly 6,700 African-Americans, more than any other public four-year school in Virginia, as well as students from more than 100 countries. In 2017, ODU was cited by the organization Education Trust as one of the 15 U.S. colleges with the best track records for graduating African-American students.
President Broderick has transformed his belief in community service into a centerpiece of University life. In 2011, he, his wife, and their relatives endowed the Evon-Broderick Award for Community Engagement and Service to recognize students who immerse themselves in service.
In athletics, he oversaw the return of football to Old Dominion in 2009 after a 69-year absence, adding a rush of excitement to campus. He is past chairman of Conference USA’s Board of Directors and a member of the NCAA Division I Presidents Forum.
But President Broderick has been clear that the University’s priority is academics. And Old Dominion’s student-athletes are triumphing in the classroom, too. The University had 286 students on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in each of the last two years – more than any other school.
Old Dominion’s benefactors have recognized the president’s focus on academic and athletic excellence. Patricia and Douglas Perry in 2018 provided a significant gift to the Perry Honors College and created the John and Kate Broderick Opportunity Scholarship for high-achieving honors students from Virginia. Ron and Scott Ripley, brothers who are alumni, have endowed a scholarship for the future women’s volleyball team in President Broderick’s honor.
He has received the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Humanitarian Award, the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ Marian Palmer Capps Award, the New Journal & Guide’s Impacting Lives award, the Dr. Hugo A. Owens Sr. Humanitarian Award from Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Trailblazer Award from Men for Hope, and a Visionary Award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. Inside Business journal ranked President Broderick No. 4 on its 2018 Power List of Hampton Roads.
He is chairman of the Council of Presidents of the Southeastern Universities Research Association and past chairman of the Virginia Council of Presidents of colleges and universities. He is the only college president to serve as a member of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority board.
President Broderick is a board member of organizations including the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Saint Patrick Catholic School, Physicians for Peace, and Hampton Roads Partnership.