Norfolk State University

Organization Description

Norfolk State College was founded in 1935. The College, brought to life in the midst of the Great Depression, provided a setting in which the youth of the region could give expression to their hopes and aspirations. At this founding, it was named the Norfolk Unit of Virginia Union University. In 1942, the College became the independent Norfolk Polytechnic College, and two years later an Act of the Virginia Legislature mandated that it become a part of Virginia State College. The College was able to pursue an expanded mission with even greater emphasis in 1956 when another Act of the Legislature enabled the institution to offer its first Bachelor's degree. The College was separated from Virginia State College and became fully independent in 1969. Subsequent legislative acts designated the institution as a university and authorized the granting of graduate degrees. In 1979, university status was attained.

The University is guided by its mission: Through exemplary teaching, scholarship, and outreach Norfolk State University transforms lives and communities by empowering individuals to maximize their potential, creating life-long learners equipped to be engaged leaders and productive citizens. The university's vision is to be recognized nationally for its outstanding academic programs, innovative research, scholarship, and global outreach, advancing the transformative power of education to change lives and communities.

Participant Biographies

Dr. Rhonda D. Fitzgerald

I am an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. I earned a Ph.D. in Biostatistics from Virginia Commonwealth University on the Medical College of Virginia Campus in Richmond, VA in 2009. At Norfolk State I’ve taught Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Mathematical Statistics I &II, and Design and Analysis of Experiments. I currently serve as the course coordinator of the pre-calculus course. I was recently awarded a NSF HBCU-UP Targeted Infusion Project where I will be targeting our pre-calculus course. In this project, Mathematics and Engineering faculty will partner to redesign Calculus I-II. The Department of Engineering recently developed a new course EEN 101 Engineering Problem Solving that introduces the applications of Algebra and Trigonometry to strengthen students’ readiness for calculus. To improve STEM learning, we will continue this application-oriented approach used in EEN 101. We will also use a flipped classroom model in which procedural learning is supported by online videos to allow face-to-face time to focus on conceptual understanding using active and collaborative learning.

In my spare time I like to walk trails, cook and bake.

Dr. Demetris L. Geddis

My goal as a teacher is to transfer theoretical and practical knowledge to students. Many studies have shown that the more senses one uses in the acquisition of new knowledge, the more likely the transfer of knowledge will be a success. I not only want to lecture to my students in a manner such that they will hear and may visually see the content covered, but I would like to provide an environment where the students actively participates in discussions and hands-on activities. At the start of a lecture on a new topic, I ask students to write a paragraph on what they think about the topic or what they think will be covered in the lecture. With their ideas and practical examples, I hope to make students feel comfortable with the new topic by making a connection between what they already know and what they are about to learn.

Dr. Shahrooz Moosavizadeh

As chair and Professor of Mathematics I oversee the daily operations of the Department of Mathematics at Norfolk State University (NSU). I graduated from Old Dominion University three times, receiving an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Twenty six years ago I joined the Spartan family at Norfolk State University to primarily assist the Engineering Department with raising their students’ skills in mathematics, especially in the areas of calculus and differential equations. In 1994, I began my twenty year association with the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS) program – a program that recruits NSU’s elite students in the sciences. During the same period I revamped the calculus program at NSU to include special sections for what is today known as the Honors sections, mentor-mentee program, use of technology in the classroom and a new syllabus to address the less than par background of our students in Algebra. I was also recipient of Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional Development Grant, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and served as the Program Director on a project designed to prepare 25 local high school teachers for teaching AP Calculus.

I embraced the SUMMI-P project with open arms for the sole purpose of reevaluating and redesigning our calculus program to better serve our new generation students who expect to be entertained at all times. A heavy emphasis will be placed on strengthening the background in Algebra and Trigonometry as well as developing new instructional strategies for conveying topics in calculus.

I enjoy listening to classical music and playing a game of chess; neither of which, I have been able to accomplish lately. With a ten year old artist and pianist and a six year old karate kid at home I serve as a chauffeur during my free times.