Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, known around campus as “Dr. J,”, is the seventh president of Norfolk State University(NSU). She has more than 30 years of higher education experience and previously served in senior leadership roles at institutions including The Ohio State University where, she was the institution’s first female African American Senior Vice President for Student Life and led more than 40 operations that affected the learning and development of over 66,000 students.
Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston shares with the Alliance some of recent successes and new initiatives underway at NSU, as well as the role that the University plays in the regional economic development and why they choose to invest in the Alliance.
Tell me a little bit about Norfolk’s State University’s history in Hampton Roads.
Founded in the midst of the Great Depression, NSU has been a leader in providing access to a high-quality education and a better way of life for 84 years. Since its founding, NSU has transformed from a small commuter college to a comprehensive urban public university. Our nationally, and internationally, recognized faculty utilize a student-centered teaching philosophy that correlates to student success in high demand areas of study such as Cybersecurity, Nursing, and Engineering. Our Drama and Theater programs and marching band have won international acclaim and are redefining the performing arts.
Innovation and a commitment to educational excellence is what drives us at NSU. We are charting new ground with the opening of a new Center for African American Public Policy – a first of its kind in Virginia. We are also on the leading edge of the emerging field of Cyber Psychology, and building international partnerships to advance research in deep space exploration.
Today, we have more than 34,000 alumni who are serving in a wide range of professional pursuits in Hampton Roads and around the globe.
What does Hampton Roads mean to Norfolk State?
NSU is an integral part of the City of Norfolk and is in close proximity to the cities of Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, where our Higher Education Center is located. NSU is as an institution that gives back to the Hampton Roads region through educational programs and community initiatives, such as our annual cyber boot camps for area Pre-K-12 students. Our students and faculty also participate in community outreach projects with various agencies including the Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, we host several business training and development programs for the public at our Innovation Center in downtown Norfolk.
What is Norfolk State’s role in terms of economic development for the region?
With annual operating revenues exceeding $190 million, and more than 1,200 employees and 5,600 students, NSU plays a vital economic role in the Hampton Roads region. NSU supports economic development in the region by serving as a major employer of choice, and by producing a strong pipeline of diverse graduates that are prepared to fill the high demand jobs of the new Virginia economy. Nearly 75 percent of our students are from the Commonwealth of Virginia and many of them come from Hampton Roads. NSU is a critical resource for the attraction of new and existing businesses to the region.
What are some things that Norfolk State has done in the past to create high quality talent for the region?
We offer high quality degree programs that meet the needs of industry, such as our online master’s degree in Cybersecurity. This program is unique because it is designed to train a diverse group of students from various disciplines including those from non-technical backgrounds. NSU has achieved continuous recognition as a Center for Academic Excellence since 2009 — first as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance and now as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
The NSU Theater Company is the only theater program in Virginia that offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and Drama that focuses on the worldview of people from the African diaspora. The Theater Company is nationally recognized and is a winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Awards for Distinguished Performance and Production Ensemble, and Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Play. The Theater Company’s co-production of The Wiz was the highest grossing production in the history of Virginia Stage Company, and NSU was the first university to ever present the keynote production at the Virginia Theatre Festival.
NSU’s School of Business is the only Historically Black College and University accredited AACSB-International program within the region. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree offers two tracts Accountancy and Business. Within the Business major, there are six areas of concentration, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing and Tourism and Hospitality Management. The Tourism and Hospitality Management concentration provides enhanced training for one of the region’s top industries. State University and
Why is it important to invest in the Alliance? Why do you think other business should invest in the Alliance?
NSU is proud to be a member of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. We have invested in the Alliance because we believe in the future of Hampton Roads and support the Alliance’s goals of making the region a top choice when it comes to economic investment and business expansion.
When institutions of higher education, corporations, entrepreneurial start-ups, small businesses and other entities work together, they create a powerful economic engine for growth. Through its work, the Alliance is bringing business, education, and community organizations together to advance an agenda of economic development and growth that is helping to build the future of Hampton Roads today. Investment in the Alliance is a smart choice, which is paying huge dividends for the region.