A satellite campus story and photos by Tracy Agnew
ellie Wasco, a Chesapeake resident who is pursuing a degree in Old Dominion University’s teacher preparation program, loathes navigating the tunnel and the commute between her home and the college’s Norfolk campus. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to go there for all her classes, because the college has a teaching site right around the corner from her house. The ODU Tri-Cities Center is technically located in Portsmouth, but it’s so close to the line that the parking lot is in Suffolk. Located near the intersection of the two cities and Chesapeake, it provides a convenient alternative to the tedious and costly drive to Norfolk from points west. “I hate the drive to Norfolk,” Wasco said recently while waiting for an English composition class to start. “This is so much more convenient. When there’s a class here I need, I take it.” The trip became even more costly recently when tolls were instituted on the Midtown Tunnel. Officials expect the site will pick up students next semester as more people find out about the Tri-Cities Center. “We definitely want to put the word out,” said John Costanzo, assistant director of the center. “It offers a way for students to take classes without having to go to the main campus.” The center offers upper-level under-
graduate as well as graduate classes in all six of the university’s colleges. About 350 to 400 students take classes at the center each year. Most classes don’t have an instructor on site — rather, the instructor is located at the main campus or at one of the other two satellite sites in Virginia Beach or Hampton. Two-way technology including television screens, cameras that focus on a student at the push of a button and document viewers help students and professors communicate. The center also offers admissions services for prospective students and other conveniences for students, such as registration, advising, student loan help, the ability to have books from the university library delivered to the site or have a photo taken for their student IDs, and more. In addition, Tidewater Community College controls one wing of the building and offers classes there. An exciting development on the horizon this summer is the relocation of the Eastern Virginia Medical School’s ophthalmic technology lab to the center. Folks from the community will be able to come get low-cost eye exams, said Renee Olander, associate vice president for regional higher education centers. She said it’s important for ODU to have more than the Norfolk campus. “Every locality benefits from having higher education access,” she said. “I think it’s critical to meet students where they are.”
Above left, Kellie Wasco, an Old dominion university student, is the only member of her english composition class to take it by satellite at Odu’s Tri-Cities Center off College drive. Above, Jacqueline Lewis and erwin Farrow operate all the technology at the Tri-Cities Center from a control room. The center serves about 350 to 400 students each year.
Home Sweet Home Care Inc