Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
On this fourth annual “Love Your Longwood Day” and with the arrival at last of spring, I wanted to share a brief campus update on several important fronts. There is much to celebrate --- the progress of campus construction, a strong cohort of new faculty coming together to join us next fall, Spring Weekend on the horizon, our upcoming Spring Symposium for Research and Creative Inquiry, and even a dose of March Madness for the men’s basketball team, who truly left it all on the floor during their first-ever post-season run.
The Board of Visitors met this past Friday and Saturday, and a highlight of their March meeting is always awarding promotion and tenure for faculty. It was inspiring to hear the Provost describe to the Board the contributions that each of the candidates have made to their scholarly fields and to our community. For our students, the chance to learn from such talented and committed faculty who have built their careers here is a defining hallmark of being at Longwood. Against so many trends to the contrary in higher education, Longwood believes deeply in full-time faculty.
The Board also continued discussions regarding Longwood’s strategic direction as we look into a new decade of the 21st century. It’s clear that so much of what Longwood is doing is working and driving progress. It’s also clear that with America and American higher education in a time of flux we need to be candid about the challenges ahead and how to meet them. The Board and I will be eager for your ideas and input, and I’ll be in touch on this front again in the coming weeks.
Two Longwood alumni are taking on important new roles on campus. Last summer, Louise Waller --- MBA ’10, and a Longwood employee since 2005 --- stepped into the job of Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance for the University, leading areas spanning construction and planning, facilities management, human resources, budget and finance, among others. It’s a role that requires having great ability with numbers and with people. Louise was initially emphatic she would only take the position temporarily. But she has done an extraordinary job, leading her team and communicating clearly across the university. She has earned my fullest confidence; she is of course a famously positive and delightful colleague, but also frank with me and willing to make tough decisions --- exactly what the job requires.
In recent weeks I have consulted with the members of the search committee for the permanent position, chaired by Dr. Tim Pierson, following a round of outside candidate interviews they conducted, as well as consulting with others across campus and the Board of Visitors. With their support, I set out to persuade Louise what so many others had already concluded: she is the best person for the job. Luckily, I have succeeded. Today I am proud to announce Louise’s appointment as Vice President for Administration and Finance. Please join me in congratulating this talented and incredibly hard-working alumna on her new title.
Meanwhile, many of you across campus know Cameron Patterson, class of 2010 (history major). A beloved member of our Student Affairs staff for six years, Cam also received a master’s degree from Longwood in 2017. Since 2017 he has served as Managing Director of the Moton Museum. With his deep connections in the community and among our students, staff and alumni, Cam is someone whose guidance I seek often and whose perspective I have come to value greatly. Eager to benefit from his wisdom and to advance the powerful cooperative work of the university and the museum, earlier this month I asked Cameron to join the university cabinet. This is the small group, including each of the vice presidents, that meets each week. We are greatly strengthened to have Cameron in the room with us.
I close with a piece of news we will be sharing publicly within the next few days: Our undergraduate commencement speaker will be Leslie “Skip” Griffin, a distinguished citizen leader and son of the great civil rights icon Rev. L. Francis Griffin. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the closing of the Prince Edward Schools. As many of you know, Skip was among the students locked out of the public schools, and a plaintiff in the landmark 1964 desegregation lawsuit that re-opened the schools and helped confirm the constitutional right to public education in America. He went on to earn two degrees from Harvard, and has enjoyed a distinguished career in business and journalism in Boston. Skip is very proud of the Moton Museum, and the hard work Longwood and Farmville have undertaken to reckon forthrightly with our difficult civil rights history. I will be profoundly honored to welcome him during this anniversary year, which also marks 65 years since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. It’s also a delight to share that Brian Ball, the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade, will speak at the graduate ceremony. Brian has been a great friend to Longwood through the years, and is a visionary for Virginia today.
Thank you all for everything you do for Longwood, and I hope each of you will consider joining so many of your fellow faculty, staff and students and participate in today’s Day of Giving --- either to Longwood as a whole, or to the many individual campaigns underway that provide support for particular causes on campus. What matters most is participation, and I hope you’ll consider a donation of any size to those parts of Longwood closest to your heart, whatever they may be. I suspect you’ve seen the link already in your email and social media feeds, but just in case, here it is: love.longwood.edu.