Serving the Community Locally and Nationally
These words, spoken by Dr. Cormier as she addressed a gathering of new college presidents attending the Millennium Leadership Initiative in Washington, D.C. in June 2005, define her lifelong commitment to service. Throughout her career, Dr. Cormier has shared her passion for service through her leadership on a variety of boards, commissions, and councils. Her involvement extends from the local, state, and national level to the international arena. These commitments are carried out in addition to her many community and collegiate responsibilities.
A Commitment to Economic Growth for Southside Virginia
As a leader in higher education in Southside Virginia, Longwood is involved in several major initiatives to boost economic activity and provide educational opportunities to more Virginians.
Another Southside Virginia initiative is the formulation Longwood is supporting the New College Institute in Martinsville with a “2+2 program” in education. Through a partnership with Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), students will take the first two years of the undergraduate program in education at PHCC then complete the upper level education program at a Longwood location in Martinsville.
Another Southside Virginia initiative is the formulationof a strategic plan that will address economic development in the region. Dr. Cormier is working with Dr. John Casteen, president of the University of Virginia, and Dr. Charles Steger, president of Virginia Tech, to explore the possibility of creating economic growth in the Southside Virginia region by distributing several research activities throughout the Southside area. An independent economics research firm will develop the strategic plan and present the results at an upcoming economic summit. Because of her strong commitment to economic growth in Southside Virginia, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner appointed Dr. Cormier to the A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership in 2004. The partnership is a state organization that fosters economic growth by enhancing the competitiveness of Virginia's small and medium-sized manufacturers.
As vice chair of the Lead Virginia Board, Dr. Cormier works with a group of diverse leaders charged with providing a statewide perspective about the quality of life in Virginia. Those involved with this educational forum grapple with challenges, opportunities and major issues facing the Commonwealth. Technology, health, military, government, education, economic development, industry, immigration and transportation are among the topics explored.
Addressing Issues in American Higher Education
In 2005 Dr. Cormier was selected chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), a higher education organization whose membership is composed of more than 430 colleges, universities, and systems of public higher education throughout the United States and its territories. Her one-year appointment as chair followed a three-year term on AASCU’s 16-member board of directors. She also serves as a faculty member for the AASCU New Presidents’ Academy and chaired the association’s Task Force on Teacher Education.
During her tenure as AASCU chair, she led a delegation of AASCU members to The Royal Kingdom of Morocco to explore opportunities for educational partnerships and exchanges between AASCU campuses and the colleges and universities of Morocco. The delegation of eight presidents/ chancellors and AASCU’s director of international education met with 12 of the 14 Moroccan university presidents.
Access to education is a hallmark of AASCU institutions and AASCU members work to provide higher education to all citizens. AASCU colleges and universities embrace students who traditionally have been underrepresented in higher education as well as those who are first generation college students. By delivering America’s promise, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.
“I am proud that Longwood is an involved member of AASCU, an organization whose mission is consistent with the principles upon which Longwood was founded,” said Dr. Cormier. “Longwood’s association with AASCU places it in the company of other public institutions who recognize that education is vital to the overall health of the community and region.”
Continuing her service in the field of higher education, she served as Commissioner and Group Leader for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS) Commission on Colleges, and as chair of the Council of Fellows of the American Council on Education (ACE). The SACS Commission on Colleges is the recognized regional accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. ACE, the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives.
As past chair of the executive committee of the Renaissance Group, a national consortium of colleges and universities committed to the preparation of educational professionals, Dr. Cormier led a proactive force for the improvement and reform of education locally, regionally and nationally. The guiding principles of the Renaissance Group affirm the importance of the education of teachers as an all-campus responsibility. It promotes a campus culture that values and models quality teaching; the creation of partnerships with practicing professionals; the extensive use of field experiences in diverse settings; the adherence to high standards and accountability; a focus on student learning; the effective use of technology; and the development of teachers as creative and innovative leaders.
She also currently serves on the Faculty Development Committee of the University of Virginia Medical School, and the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Board at Drexel University.
Directing her attention toward collegiate athletics, Dr. Cormier’s served as chair of the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Council, a group composed of chancellors and presidents from Division II member institutions that provides a leadership structure and forum for presidential priorities in Division II intercollegiate athletics matters. Among other duties, the Presidents’ Council is empowered to implement policies adopted by the association’s Executive Committee; establish and direct the general policy of Division II; establish a strategic plan for Division II; approve recommendations of the Division II Management Council; ratify, amend, or rescind the actions of the Division II Management Council; and develop and approve the budget and the use of funds allotted to Division II.
Community Outreach Through Art
Since the 1990s the art community in Farmville has flourished. A major reason for the growth can be attributed to the expansion of the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) and its prime location on Main Street in Farmville. In 1998, the LCVA found a permanent home at the Main Street location it had been leasing since 1993 when Longwood entered into an agreement to purchase the 25,000-square-foot building. Since that time the LCVA has become an integral part of the community. It is known throughout the region for its outreach programs, partnerships with local schools, lecture series, and workshops, as well as for staging beautiful, enriching exhibitions of art selected from Virginia, the United States and the world. In addition, a number of sculptures representing a variety of forms and media have been placed on campus through the Brock Commons Outdoor Sculpture Program that began in 2004. Sponsored by the Department of Art, the LCVA, and assisted by the Department of Facilities Management, the program’s mission dovetails with the university’s goal of placing artwork on view throughout the campus.
A Decade of Leadership
When all is said and done, Longwood University has come a long way since 1996 when Dr. Cormier began her tenure. As she has said on many occasions, “I have the best job in the Commonwealth – it is truly a labor of love.” But she always acknowledges the strong support of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the Board of Visitors. “Without that support, my job would be impossible – without their help, we would not be where we are today. I am very fortunate to be president of Longwood University.”