Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
The prospect of spring after these long months of winter is very welcome. Like always, there have been so many positive developments this semester, like Dr. Jennifer Miskec being underway abroad as a Fulbright Scholar, or welcoming acclaimed speakers Sydney Trent, Lawrence Ross and Frank Bidart to campus in recent weeks.
But it has also been a difficult time. The terrible accident at Hampden-Sydney days ago weighs on us here and across Farmville. And the alarming incident in January of a rifle being brandished at Longwood Village has prompted important discussions about campus safety, discussions which truly have deepened my own understanding of the way the threat of gun violence is a central focus of the rising generation today, who have been brought up in the shadow of Columbine and the Virginia Tech shooting as well as tragically so many others.
Campus safety has been an intense priority of mine as President. I am confident that our campus overall is a safe one thanks to the professionalism of our police, the substantial investments we have made in campus security, and our culture of looking out for one another. But we always strive to improve, and I offer my personal thanks and the thanks of the University to students who have asked questions and spoken out.
This winter more broadly in Virginia, it has very truly been a time of crisis in state government, unfolding during the already hugely consequential annual session of the General Assembly. The session concluded this past Sunday, and it is a testament to our legislature that it accomplished so much this year. In the days and weeks ahead, our director of government relations Emily O’Brion and I along with others across campus will be reviewing the potential effect on Longwood of new statutes and policies. This was a particularly active session with regards to higher education, including commendable attention to tuition moderation as well as compensation for faculty and staff. The General Assembly will reconvene in April to take final action on legislation after the Governor’s review this month and next of bills passed.
Lastly, amidst everything else let me also close with some wonderful news from the General Assembly session, for which we are profoundly grateful to the Commonwealth --- I got to share this news in person yesterday with Dr. Lisa Kinzer, the chair of our Music Department: The General Assembly has taken the crucial step of authorizing detailed architectural planning to build a replacement to Wygal Hall.
Hard work over a period of years led to this point, including the 2015 campus master plan and 2017 feasibility study for the project. And there will be hard work over the years ahead before a building stands. But this is an essential and momentous step in the process toward constructing an outstanding new addition to campus that will benefit our students and the spirit of our broader community truly for generations. So many across campus have worked to bring us to this exciting moment, but most especially Emily O’Brion and our great Rector Marianne Radcliff, who have advocated powerfully and persistently for the importance of this project and succeeded in advancing it. It is a proud day for Longwood.