In September, the newest member of the Longwood Board of Visitors, Larry Palmer, underwent an initiation of sorts.

As one of his first official acts, he donned a decorated Convocation cap—he was the “O” as members of the board spelled out LONGWOOD—for one of the most beloved traditions on campus. The next morning, Palmer attended the unveiling of a monument on High Street dedicated to generations of freedom fighters from the region.

“What a poignant and memorable day for this university and community that I have come to know and love,” said Palmer. “The history of this place is one that affects me deeply, and I’m so pleased to see the story being told frequently and well.”

Gov. Ralph S. Northam appointed Palmer, a retired university professor and administrator, to the Longwood Board of Visitors in June, and reappointed members Eileen Anderson ’83, of Glen Allen, and Pia Trigiani, of Alexandria. Trigiani is the current board secretary.

“Larry is a wonderfully insightful person and a great addition to our Board of Visitors,” said President W. Taylor Reveley IV. “I have found him a reliable source of wisdom and discernment on many matters. He has a keen understanding of Longwood—what makes this such a special place and where we will carve out our place in the decades to come.”

After receiving his law degree from Yale, Palmer clerked for Hon. A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., then the first African-American judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who went on to serve as chief judge for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to be awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Palmer taught at Rutgers-Camden University School of Law before joining the Cornell Law School faculty in 1975, specializing in the legal and policy implications of medicine. He served in many capacities at Cornell, including vice provost and vice president for academic programs.

His appointment to the Longwood board is a homecoming: Palmer’s wife, Suzy Szasz Palmer, was the dean of Greenwood Library from 2011-16, and the couple kept an apartment in Farmville. Larry was a familiar sight around town, often riding the roads and High Bridge Trail on his bicycle. The couple now live in Richmond. 

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