As we move through a busy summer on campus, I wanted to touch base briefly to share two important pieces of news from our final Board of Visitors meeting of the academic year last week.
First, a new slate of leaders for the Board for the coming year was elected. Marianne Radcliff ’92, who served as Rector from 2012-14, will return to that role, while Eric Hansen will be Vice Rector and Pia Trigiani will continue as Secretary. Mike Evans will also serve on the Board’s Executive Committee. All four are devoted to Longwood and our mission and will provide outstanding leadership for the Board.
Sadly, it was the final Board meeting for Steve Mobley ’93 and Bob Wertz ’85, who together have contributed decades of service to the Alumni Board, Foundation Board and Board of Visitors, with Bob serving as Rector of course over this past year. Their commitment and expertise have had a profound effect on Longwood. Among much else, both provided strong focus on our faculty and staff, pushing us to improve compensation and strive to become a better place to work and make a career. They will be deeply missed on the Board, but still very much involved with the life of the University.
Happily, however, along with the reappointments of Eric Hansen and Colleen Margiloff ’97, Longwood has also received two outstanding appointments by Gov. McAuliffe to join the Board in July --- Ricshawn Adkins Roane, chief of staff at the Jack Kent Cook Foundation, is someone I have known and admired for many years for her advocacy on behalf of students. Nadine Marsh-Carter is someone I have admired from afar for her work with the Children’s Home Society of Virginia. We look forward to welcoming both to the Longwood family.
The second piece of important news from the BOV meeting is that the Board has approved a remarkably innovative project to completely renovate and remodel the “High-Rises” --- Curry and Frazer --- taking inspiration from the 2015 Campus Master Plan.
Details on the project, images and a timeline can be found in this announcement, which we will share shortly with the wider Longwood community. But the gist is this: Curry and Frazer, accounting for 25 percent of our campus beds, are approaching the start of their sixth decade of use, and near the end of their functional life on the inside. And along with the urgent need to address their interior shortcomings, their exterior appearance could obviously resonate more strongly with the fabric of downtown and the rest of campus.
Following a comprehensive housing assessment, Ken Copeland, Louise Waller and their teams working closely with Tim Pierson, Student Affairs, and others have developed a striking plan for transforming these buildings. Their vision maintains the role of the towers as a center of student life and source of camaraderie, while vastly improving the student experience and creating genuinely welcoming architectural landmarks to town and campus. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the plan is the timeline: by pushing go now and starting next spring after graduation, they have worked the calculus so that we do not need to build “swing” housing for displaced students --- a capital expense in the tens of millions of dollars we had anticipated but can now avoid. My deepest personal thanks go to the many people across campus whose expertise and hard work have served Longwood so well with this innovative idea.
As I’ve noted before, the past academic year has been an especially eventful and memorable one. I hope each of you shares my pride in what we have achieved --- the debate, the new core curriculum, a record incoming freshman class, and record year for fundraising, surpassing $10 million annually in philanthropy for the first time. We are also still glowing from another inspiring run by the softball team, including an especially gratifying win over Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament (sorry Pam Tracy). We have successfully navigated the budget during a year of great uncertainty in state funding, while juggling multiple construction projects that are now taking shape.
As you often hear me say, in a time of genuine flux in higher education, we have real momentum. I extend to all of you my deepest thanks, and my hopes that even amidst the busy work that continues over the summer you will find time to relax and recharge. And during those moments away, as your thoughts drift back to Longwood, I hope it is with pride in what we accomplished this past year and excitement for what lies ahead.
All my best,