By Amber Kennedy

Austin Agho, Ph.D., announced plans March 19 to step down from his position as provost and vice president for academic affairs effective June 30. He will begin a two-year appointment on July 1 to lead the transition following the University鈥檚 integration with Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Provost Agho began his higher education career 35 years ago as an assistant professor of health administration at the University of Illinois-Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University) and went on to serve at five institutions. He joined ODU in June 2016.聽

Over his eight-year tenure, the University realized major accomplishments, including earning the prestigious Research 1, or R1, designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education; receiving a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); and securing the Carnegie Foundation鈥檚 2020 Community Engagement classification.

He co-chaired the effort to develop, launch and implement the 2023-2028 strategic plan and has played a critical role in the planning for integration with EVMS.

The University established new schools in emerging areas, such as cybersecurity, data science and supply chain, logistics and maritime operations. At the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, the School of Nursing offerings were expanded, and the Center for Telehealth Education and Research and the Center for Simulation and Standardized Patient Training were formed.

Under his leadership, the University focused efforts on recruitment and retention of diverse faculty. The Center for Faculty Development and the Office of Faculty Diversity and Retention were established, and in 2023, ODU secured a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Adaptation Grant to enhance the University鈥檚 efforts to address underrepresentation of women in science and engineering faculty positions. In partnership with Faculty Senate, tenure and promotion policies were revised to ensure transparency and equity, resulting in the first female full professors in the Department of Biology and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Agho introduced the Provost鈥檚 Spotlight series to celebrate the accomplishments of distinguished faculty; the next event will honor Fulbright scholar Victoria Time.

Academic Affairs also developed methodologies to capture and evaluate faculty revenue production, research productivity and instructional costs; identify high-performing degree programs; and prioritize requests for faculty and staff positions.

In a note to faculty and staff, Provost Agho said, 鈥湴拿帕喜士蓖 is a special place with incredible people, who are both focused and driven in making a significant difference and lasting impact on our campus and our community. As I reflect on the last eight years, it can be defined by hard work and noteworthy progress with an even brighter future on the horizon.

And, as I think back on the nearly 39,000 Monarchs who have received degrees during my tenure, I am filled with immense pride. More than anything else, I am honored to be a proud Monarch and thankful for the meaningful experiences and life-changing moments!鈥

ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., sent a message to campus on March 20 celebrating the career and contributions of Provost Agho. 鈥淲hen I first met Provost Agho approximately three years ago, I was struck by his warm personality and upstanding character, as defined by the care, honesty, honor, humility, sincerity and thoughtfulness that he daily demonstrates in his personal and professional interactions,鈥 he wrote. 鈥淗e is a true statesman, who has proudly served our campus, our community and our Commonwealth with determination and distinction.鈥

He added, 鈥淧rovost Agho has provided steady guidance and skillful leadership through difficult times, such as a global health pandemic, as well as many challenging and complex situations that routinely face organizations of our scope and size. He is to be commended for a job well done!鈥

Beginning July 1, Provost Agho will serve as senior advisor to the president and chief integration officer for a period of at least two years, playing a vital role in steering post-integration efforts across the newly integrated institution, specifically in the specialized areas of academics, finance, human resources, information technology and operations. He assumes the role from Alicia Monroe, M.D. who has led the Integration Management Office since September 2022. Provost Agho holds a master鈥檚 degree in health administration from Governor鈥檚 State University and earned a Ph.D. in hospital and health administration from the University of Iowa.

To ensure a seamless transition, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies Brian Payne, Ph.D., will serve as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs beginning July 1. Dr. Payne, a tenured faculty member in the College of Arts and Letters鈥 Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, was characterized by President Hemphill as a 鈥渒ey driver in much of the growth, innovation and transformation that has occurred in recent years.鈥

Dr. Payne is anticipated to serve in the interim role for the entirety of the 2024-2025 academic year.