ODU Commencement, students walking across Hampton Blvd. on their way to commencement exercises

The first ceremony, at 9 a.m., celebrated graduates of the College of Arts and Letters, the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Sciences and the School of Cybersecurity. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony commended graduates of the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, the Strome College of Business, the College of Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, the newly established School of Data Science and the Graduate School.

U.S. Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott served as the featured speaker for both ceremonies. Congressman Scott has represented Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993.

“Make no mistake about it,” he said. “Your college education is more important now than ever because of the moment we find ourselves in today.” 

A lifelong public servant, Congressman Scott encouraged students to stay active and involved with their community.

“That means more than just voting,” he said. “It means following the news, attending city council meetings and contacting your elected officials at every level of government. Possibly even running for office yourself.”

Nina R. Gonser, vice president for digital learning, recognized the hundreds of students, representing 31% of ODU’s student body, who earned their degrees through ODUGlobal this semester. She noted that more than 22,000 students have earned ODU degrees via distance learning over nearly 40 years.

“They are adult learners, full-time workers, service members, mothers and fathers, individuals who require accessible environments. They are those who choose to fit education into life,” Gonser said.

“You have demonstrated a profound level of self-discipline and motivation, proving that distance is no obstacle to the pursuit of knowledge.”

ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., asked the new graduates to think about the vital roles they will play in society.

“You are among the most fortunate people in one of the most fortunate countries on Earth,” he said. “And because of the special status you hold as an educated person, others will look to your leadership.”

Congressman Scott was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the University.

He concluded his speech by stressing the importance of using education for good.

“As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but no morals,’” Scott said.

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”