Brief History

Old Dominion University Research Foundation (“Research Foundation”) was chartered in 1965.  Its creation was intended to “promote the educational objectives of the University by encouraging, fostering, and conducting investigation, research, and development in engineering, the physical and life sciences, the humanities, education, and all other branches of learning; and utilizing, publishing, and otherwise making known the results of such investigations, research, and development . . . .”

The function of the Research Foundation has evolved over the years in response to the needs of Old Dominion University and its research community.  The Research Foundation began as an organization with emphasis on applying the technology of the laboratory to solve engineering problems of local industry.  Early in its history, the Research Foundation developed a strong and beneficial relationship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA and its scientists at the Langley Research Center relied upon University faculty and their engineering knowledge in many of its lunar mission efforts throughout the decade leading to the first manned lunar landing.  In the late 1960’s, the Research Foundation and the University forged a unique partnership for research administration that existed in no other Virginia university. As the University evolved from a satellite campus of the College of William & Mary to a four-year college and ultimately to a respected graduate and research university, the functions of the Research Foundation evolved in unison.  This unique partnership continues today to develop, nurture, and expand the research mission of the University.

The University recognized an active research program was an essential element of its goal to become a graduate university.  The University and Research Foundation partnership developed from the University’s need to provide research administration services with no additional state monies available to fund such efforts.  Using indirect cost recoveries received from sponsors to fund the Research Foundation solved this problem.

The Research Foundation serves as the University’s fiscal and administrative agent for sponsored program activities.  It is an independent, not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization chartered under the laws of Virginia. A self-perpetuating Board of Trustees consisting of up to 20 directors governs the Research Foundation.  Fifteen trustees are persons external to the University. Old Dominion University is represented on the Research Foundation Board by the University President and four additional trustees selected by the University President.  Those directors have been the provost, the vice president for research, and deans of two colleges. The Board of Trustees hires an Executive Director and other staff to carry out its mission.

The University fosters and promotes the research enterprise through its Office of Research.  This office is also responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring regulatory compliance policies and procedures.  Regulatory compliance concerns include export controls, protection of laboratory animals and human subjects in research, radiation safety, chemical safety, scientific integrity, and conflict of interest.  University intellectual property administration is a function within the Office of Research. The office supports technology transfer activities by identifying, protecting and marketing inventions and works of authorship.

The Research Foundation works closely and collaboratively with the Office of Research in fulfilling the Research Foundation’s mission of providing responsive and cost-effective support for sponsored program administration.  The Research Foundation has played a significant role in the University’s ability to attract world-class researchers and advance its research mission while enhancing the University’s profile. The partnership between the Research Foundation and the University has been an unqualified success.  It has provided a means of centralizing sponsored programs administration and providing specialized support and systems necessary to facilitate University research.