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On Campus

Alums Marcus & Sheffield Lead Longwood Boards

Kent Booty Associate Editor

Marcus admires Sheffield's new Longwood necktie
Kenny Marcus (right) admires Mike Sheffield's new Longwood necktie.

For the first time, two Longwood University boards are led by male alumni. Dr. R. Kenneth "Kenny" Marcus, '82, professor of analytical chemistry at Clemson University, is the first president of the Foundation Board who is a male alumnus. Mike Sheffield, '89, a federal probation officer in Charlottesville, is the president of the Alumni Board.

Marcus has more than 10 patents and leads a research group whose work has been featured in cover stories in two national scientific journals. Sheffield, who carries a gun and has arrest powers, travels throughout the country conducting training for other federal officers and federal courts. Both men, representing their respective boards, are members of the Presidential Search and Screening Advisory Committee that is helping to find a successor to Dr. Patricia Cormier.

"I was in the second male class that lived on campus, which is why I applied - the 20-to-1 (female-to-male) ratio!" said Marcus, a Virginia Beach native. "I did not perform well in high school, and I had a whopping 970 on my SATs. Longwood was the only school I applied to. If they'd turned me down, I don't know what I would have done. Maybe I would have gone to Tidewater Community College and studied drafting, or something."

Marcus double majored in chemistry and physics. "I came to Longwood as a physics major, but then I took chemistry because I had to as a physics major. Dr. Maurice Maxwell got me jazzed into chemistry. I also became close to Dr. Pat Barber." At Longwood, Marcus was the chartering president of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and was freshman class Oktoberfest chair and an orientation leader.

Marcus has taught at Clemson since 1986, the year he received a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Virginia. He received the 2001 South Carolina Governor's Award for Excellence in Science Research, was program director for analytical chemistry at the National Science Foundation in 1997-98, and is a former chairman of the Piedmont section (from North Carolina to Alabama) of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.

Work by the Marcus Research Group, which consists of usually one or two undergraduates and six to eight graduate students, has been featured in cover stories in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry and in American Laboratory in 2005. "The theme of everything we do is developing novel chemical instrumentation," Marcus said. "We currently do projects in two main areas. One is chemical characterization of nutraceuticals, which are botanical extracts such as St. John's Wort and green tea. The other area is the development of novel fiber materials for chemical separations, which are used to study protein chemistry and perform clinical assays. We're trying to find better pregnancy test materials."

He has three children. Drew, a 2008 graduate of the University of South Carolina, is in the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School; Courtney, a sophomore at Winthrop College ("the South Carolina version of Longwood," Marcus said) where she is majoring in English with a secondary education emphasis; and Kendalee, interested in music education, is a junior in high school. "She has visited Longwood a couple of times," said Marcus.

Sheffield, a Charlottesville native, works for the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Virginia, one of two federal judicial districts in Virginia. By choosing a law enforcement career, he followed in the footsteps of his father, also Mike Sheffield, U.Va.'s police chief for 17 years before stepping down in 2001.

At Longwood, the younger Sheffield majored in sociology with a criminal justice concentration and was the Outstanding Senior of the Class of 1989 and a member of Geist and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity (he once met, and was photographed with, fellow TKE Ronald Reagan). During his sophomore year, he met his future wife, then Cindy Clark, '90, who earned a sociology degree with a concentration in criminal justice.

"The sociology department prepares you to be a leader in whatever field you choose," Sheffield said. "I'm still close to Dr. Ken Perkins, who was then department chair (now an administrator) and who I had as a professor. We developed a relationship, and it has been maintained throughout the years. Dr. Perkins even came to our wedding."

In January 1988, during his junior year, Sheffield's mother died of diabetes. Later that year Sheffield (an only child) and his father created the Diane M. Sheffield Memorial Scholarship, given annually to a junior or senior in the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Anthropology who has shown academic promise and has been active in the department and in campus life.

"My mom died while I was home during Christmas break, and I thought about not coming back to college," Sheffield said. "I eventually decided to return to Longwood about 30 days later. From the administration to the faculty to the staff, I was welcomed back, and everybody worked to get me up to speed. That's what drew me here in the first place. Longwood is a special place, a unique environment and community. It was a special place to mom, and we wanted to do something to capture that, and to always give back, and to help students." 

After graduating, he worked in the Longwood Admissions office for 18 months, then as a rehab counselor at Nottoway Correctional Center and later as a state probation officer for the Fairfax County courts before assuming his current job in 1997. His office is in the Charlottesville federal courthouse. 

"We wear a lot of different hats," he said of his job. "My regular duties fall into two areas: background investigations, for presentencing reports, of those convicted of a crime in federal court, and supervision of people convicted of federal offenses. I work regularly with the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. Marshal's Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In addition to my normal duties, I'm also a program development and training specialist. I train other officers, both locally and nationally."

Sheffield received an award in July 2008 from the federal courts, presented in Washington, D.C., for his contributions to, and leadership in, the advancement of the federal court system. In 2006 he was the first recipient of the Western Judicial District Officer of the Year Award. He has served as a faculty member with the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., and as an adjunct faculty member at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

"I take great pride in protecting the community and assisting the court to ensure that the federal court process is maintained with honor and integrity. We work for the federal judges and are their eyes and ears. What I like about being a probation officer is that it gives me a great balance of law enforcement, working with the federal judges, and the community. You never know what each day will bring."

He and his wife, a local probation officer, have two children, Caitly, 16, and Matthew, 14, who are students at Albemarle High School. Caitly, who is beginning to explore colleges, is a member of the school's field hockey team and Show Choir. Matthew plays on one of the local, select travel soccer teams.