Shaping the Image
World-famous tennis champion André Agassi once said, “Image is everything.” Though it may have been just an advertising slogan, those words are embraced every fall as college presidents and administrators nervously await the release of the U.S.News & World Report college rankings. Campus emotions rise and fall with the annual rankings. As Bob Chonko, dean of enrollment management, says, “Like it or not, the rankings are important — they factor into the decision-making process. They get the attention of prospective students, parents, high school guidance counselors and college administrators across the nation.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Cormier, and for the ninth consecutive year, Longwood was included in the America's Best Colleges 2007 rankings by U.S.News & World Report, maintaining its #11 Tier One position among public Southern universities that grant master’s degrees. The university moved up from 36 to 33 for public and private Southern universities offering master's degrees.
Although USN&WR may garner the most attention, other accolades are helping to raise and shape the image of Longwood. The 2006 Princeton Review selected Longwood as a Best Southeastern College for 2006. In this annual ranking, based on student surveys and published in a book, Longwood was cited for “offering undergraduates a well-rounded education, citizen leadership, and personal growth, all at a fairly cheap price, even for out-of-state students.” Longwood also was cited for “an excellent college of business with a great reputation and excellent internship programs and job opportunities upon graduation.” More recently, Longwood again received the Best in the Southeast designation for the new 2007 Princeton Review.
Nationally, USA Today recently recognized Longwood as one of only 20 colleges and universities in the country that “foster student success.” This distinction was based upon a survey of 700 four-year schools that participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement from 2000 to 2003. “What sets the schools apart, the researchers say, is that when factors such as the academic quality of the students they admit are taken into account, the institutions have above-average graduation rates and do an outstanding job of involving students in their education,” the article says. “The institutions share what (the survey director) calls ‘an unshakeable focus on student learning’ and create environments designed to promote student success.”
Raising the Bar of Competition
On 12 November 2002, Dr. Cormier informed the NCAA of Longwood's intention to reclassify its intercollegiate athletic program to Division I status. By doing so, Longwood began an NCAA-mandated five-year process, including a one-year “exploratory period” (2002-03), to change its membership from Division II to Division I. The decision to move to Division I was part of Longwood's overall strategic plan to raise the visibility and profile of the university. As Dr. Cormier stated at the time, “We believe that Division I status will enhance both our institutional image and our recruitment efforts. And we think our student-athletes deserve to play at that level. We look forward to developing some great rivalries.”
As part of the move to D-I, the Longwood Lancers unveiled a new sports logo at home during the James Madison University game last year. Longwood won, 77-73, paving the way for one of those great in-state rivalries. The Lancers compete in 14 sports (8 women’s, 6 men’s).
“The value, the ethic that I believe defines true leadership is service, service to others, service to the common good.”