A Historical Journey Through Old Dominion University


Old Dominion University stands as a testament to the power of education to transform lives and communities. Established in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, it has evolved into a distinguished institution known for its academic excellence, research contributions, and commitment to diversity. Join us on a historical journey through the corridors of time as we delve into the rich legacy of Old Dominion University.

Founding Years: A Vision Takes Shape

In 1930, the Norfolk Division opened its doors with just 206 students eager to pursue higher education. Initially offering extension courses, it quickly expanded its curriculum to include undergraduate degrees. Situated in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, the institution laid its foundation on the principles of accessibility and quality education for all.

World War II and Transformation

The outbreak of World War II brought significant changes to the institution. It became a vital training ground for military personnel, offering specialized courses to support the war effort. Following the war, a surge in enrollment fueled the expansion of programs and facilities, setting the stage for the institution’s transformation into Old Dominion College.

Transition to University Status

In 1962, Old Dominion College gained university status, marking a pivotal moment in its history. The change reflected its growing stature as a comprehensive institution offering a wide range of academic programs. With the newfound status came increased resources, faculty expertise, and opportunities for research and innovation.

The Birth of Modern Old Dominion University

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed remarkable growth and development at Old Dominion University. New academic buildings, research centers, and student facilities dotted the campus landscape, reflecting a commitment to excellence in education and scholarship. The university embraced diversity, welcoming students from various backgrounds and cultures, enriching the campus community.

Academic Excellence and Research Innovation

Old Dominion University emerged as a hub of academic excellence and research innovation in the 21st century. Its faculty members conducted groundbreaking research in diverse fields, contributing to advancements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Collaborations with industry partners and government agencies further fueled innovation and economic development in the region.

A Global Community of Scholars

With a diverse student body representing over 100 countries, Old Dominion University became a global community of scholars. Its commitment to inclusivity and cultural exchange fostered a vibrant learning environment where students could thrive academically and personally. International partnerships and study abroad programs offered students the opportunity to gain a global perspective and cross-cultural understanding.

Legacy of Leadership and Service

Throughout its history, Old Dominion University has produced leaders and changemakers who have made significant contributions to society. Alumni have excelled in various fields, including business, government, academia, and the arts, embodying the university’s motto: “To Serve.” Their achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring legacy of Old Dominion University.


As we reflect on the historical journey of Old Dominion University, we are reminded of its enduring legacy of excellence, innovation, and service. From its humble beginnings to its present-day stature as a premier research institution, Old Dominion University continues to shape the minds of future generations and make a positive impact on the world. As we embark on the next chapter of its history, we celebrate the past achievements and look forward to a future filled with endless possibilities.

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