Named for what President W. Taylor Reveley IV described as one of the “foremost families” of Longwood University and Farmville, the Clark Intercultural Center officially opened Sept. 21 as a place where students can learn more about each other and embrace their differences.
The center, located on Main Street between the Fitness Center and the athletics fields, will be a home for Longwood’s National PanHellenic Council groups and provide meeting and study space, conference rooms and a lounge for use by all students.
“The Clark Intercultural Center is more than just programming, activities and events space … ,” said Jonathan Page, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “[It] embodies the spirit of intercultural engagement by creating an open space for people to get together to learn about, experience and appreciate the different cultures, backgrounds, perspectives and ideologies that make up their communities.”
The center will ensure all students feel their identities are valued and respected, and that they are free to be their authentic selves.Jonathan Page, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Tweet This
The family honored in the naming of the center has strong ties to Farmville and Longwood—and to the structure, which was the Clarks’ home from 1979-89.
The house holds many memories for Dr. Theresa Clark, M.S. ’88, now retired, who was a member of the social work faculty for more than 30 years and served as department chair. The house’s location in what was effectively Longwood’s back yard made it possible for her to walk home for lunch when her daughters—Megan Clark ’05 and Shelly Clark-Reed—were young. She often invited students over for fellowship and a home-cooked meal.
And Shelly and Megan contributed their share of memorable moments, as children always do.
There was Shelly’s mishap that involved eating watermelon, falling through the back door and “busting” her lip. And there was the time when Megan, all of 3 years old, decided she wanted to go play on the swing set in the middle of the night. She successfully opened three locked doors to get to the yard, only to end up crying so loudly that a neighbor heard her and called to alert Theresa and her husband, Leslie.
PHOTOS: The event and a look inside the Clark Intercultural Center
Theresa and Leslie Clark both grew up in Farmville and are part of the generation that experienced the Prince Edward school closings and a society that felt little need to disguise discrimination on the basis of race.
In her remarks, Megan Clark, commonwealth’s attorney for Prince Edward County, noted the significant changes that have happened at Longwood and in Farmville since her father was a child and was only allowed on campus during move-in, when he would help students’ carry their bags into the residence halls.
The creation of the Intercultural Center and its being named for her family means “things have come full circle,” she said.
Theresa Clark agreed. “It’s a wonderful statement that Longwood is making about diversity,” she said, noting that the university “continues to serve as a family for me.”
“Longwood has taken a position. It’s clear, and it’s loud.”
Page said the Clark Intercultural Center is evidence that Longwood plans to hold to that position and keep the message going strong.
“The center will ensure all students feel their identities are valued and respected, and that they are free to be their authentic selves,” he said.
The photo of the Clark family used on the invitation to the grand opening was taken by Harrison Samaniego ’17 for “Their Voices, Our History: Stories of Prince Edward County, Virginia” magazine, published in 2016.