NSU to honor Suffolk resident
Published 9:28 pm Friday, March 27, 2015
Suffolk resident Dr. Sandra DeLoatch will be among the first 16 members inducted into the Lyman Beecher Brooks Society at Norfolk State University’s 80th anniversary gala tonight.
DeLoatch said she is honored to be recognized in the society, which will include individuals whose lifetime giving to Norfolk State is $100,000 or more.
“I was surprised and pleased,” DeLoatch said of the honor. “I’ve devoted my work life to this institution, so I was really pleased to get this kind of recognition.”
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DeLoatch said she is especially pleased to be honored in the society named after the former president of the university, who hired her as a young mathematics professor and encouraged her to continue her education.
“He was a wonderful man, very supportive of faculty, and a visionary,” DeLoatch said. “If you think about how this institution got started in the Depression era, what he was able to get accomplished was truly miraculous.”
DeLoatch went to undergraduate school at Howard University and aimed to become a research mathematician. However, at her first job after graduation, she was unhappy and ran into a former professor. He encouraged her to apply to the University of Michigan for her graduate work.
“I applied and got accepted,” DeLoatch said. “The only money they had left at that time was teaching fellowships. That’s how I got into education. I taught a class, and I loved it.”
After she finished her master’s degree work, DeLoatch learned from her mother that Norfolk State was hiring. Brooks agreed to hire her but told her she could teach with a master’s for only two years. She eventually got her doctorate degree and kept on teaching.
The achievements, awards and honors have kept coming, as well. She earned another master’s degree from the College of William and Mary. She initiated the computer science program at NSU and served as the department’s first chair. In 2000, she was appointed dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. Under her leadership efforts, the college instituted vigorous recruitment initiatives, expanded graduate program offerings including the first doctorate program in the sciences, established tutoring and mentoring programs to improve graduation and retention rates, and more.
In 2011, DeLoatch was appointed interim provost and vice president for academic affairs and was elevated to the provost position permanently in 2012. She also served as acting president for two months in 2013.
DeLoatch is responsible for administering more than $20 million in external funding for research and educational projects. She also has authored mathematics textbooks and computer science research articles.
She has been awarded multiple times by organizations such as the NAACP, Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, the YWCA, Virginia Association of Educational Office Professionals and more. Local Girl Scouts can even earn a patch for exploring science, technology and mathematics-related fields that is named in DeLoatch’s honor.
In Suffolk, DeLoatch is vice chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals.
A North Suffolk resident, DeLoatch said she is nearing the end of her career and hopes to soon be able to spend more time with her mother and traveling.
The honor “is quite a culminating event before I retire and move on to the next phase of my life,” she said.