Spring is fully upon us and the academic year almost to the finish line. During this immensely busy stretch on campus, I wanted to touch base with a note of thanks.

Rereading my messages to campus from this time last year is a reminder of the extraordinary challenges we have been through together. But even at the darkest moments of this crisis I felt confident that our defining characteristics – our residential nature, our professional commitment and camaraderie, our devotion to students – would help carry us to carry forward and emerge stronger. We have done so. As I’m sure each of you has witnessed in some form, the effort has made a profound difference in the lives of our students. I told you last spring the work ahead might prove the most consequential of our careers, and you have stepped up. Thank you.

There is much to celebrate, and we should. Thanks to hard work by our staff, campus is truly beautiful; flowers are in bloom and Wheeler Mall is photosynthesizing once again. As of yesterday, our Covid dashboard shows zero active cases. Today and Monday, hundreds of students are receiving their second vaccination doses in Willett. Thanks again to our nursing faculty and students, and people across Longwood helping.

For Longwood and the country, widespread vaccination heralds a return of being more fully together in-person. There is much to look forward to next fall.

Thanks to incredibly hard work in admissions and across the university, our incoming class is coming together.  On the undergraduate side, nationally and in Virginia, this year has been the most chaotic, unpredictable and challenging higher education has seen in our lifetimes, and we won’t know until June exactly where we’ll end up with admissions. But against that backdrop, we are in line with expectations. The full enrollment picture will also depend on graduate and transfer enrollment, which will come more fully into focus later, but both look promising. The other critical variable, as always, is retention – so I am grateful to all of you whose work helping keep our students on track through these challenging times continues.

This coming year, it will be a particular point of focus to rebuild in-person community and connections. In the coming weeks, construction will begin on the elegant Joan Perry Brock ’64 Convocation Center – a space conceived by our great benefactor Joan Brock, long before the pandemic, as above all a place for the Longwood and Farmville communities to join together, in person, for ceremonies, lectures, concerts and games.

And finally, I hope you saw the campus email yesterday inviting all faculty and staff to stop by Lankford Mall between noon and 3 p.m. next Wednesday for ice cream, coffee, Longwood scarves and – most importantly – a chance to reconnect with colleagues. My thanks to the Staff Advisory Committee for helping to organize. I hope to see you there.