The board of visitors of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has voted to name the university’s new residence hall after Hugo A. Owens, the first African American rector of the university. Owens served on the board of visitors from 1990 to 1994. He led the board as rector for two of those years. Dr. Owens died in 2008 at the age of 92.
Dr. Owens was a graduate of what is now Virginia State University, where he majored in biochemistry. After serving in World War II, he completed dental training at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and established a practice in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was a leader of the civil rights movement in the Hampton Roads area.
John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University, said that “naming this residence hall after Dr. Owens ensures that future generations of students and faculty and staff members will remember his significant contributions. In Hampton Roads, he helped advance the civil rights movement, overcoming fierce opposition. And with his gentle yet wise approach, he provided strong leadership for the university as the rector of the board of visitors and always served as a role model for ODU students.”