As President W. Taylor Reveley IV welcomed the class of 2022, faculty and assembled guests at Longwood’s outdoor Convocation ceremony on Thursday he couldn’t help but acknowledge the perfect weather. It was, as he noted, a glorious day with beautiful sunshine, perfect temperature and just the right amount of cloud cover.
Members of the senior class assembled with their cappers and distinguished guests to officially kick off the 2021-2022 academic year, and to celebrate a return to more normalcy after a year of challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lancaster Mall, between Lancaster Hall and Upchurch University Center, was a colorful sea of graduation caps decorated with sunflowers, photographs, and other mementos representing the last four years and looking ahead to future careers.
If you’ve got the motto to teach in order to enlighten, then you better have within your spirit the idea of sharing the light that is within you. Light the soul, Lancers, from now on until forever.The Honorable John Charles Thomas Tweet This
The Honorable John Charles Thomas, the first black justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, gave a rousing address encouraging Longwood seniors to “run through the tape” in the final leg of their undergraduate journey. He also spoke of the true meaning of the liberal arts, as defined by the Greeks.
“The artes liberales are the skills of freedom. That’s what we’ve been trying to teach you your whole time here at Longwood,” he said. “The skills of freedom at the basic form is grammar, logic, rhetoric. We want you to think well, speak well and write well. We want you to be able to grapple with whatever problems you see in your life, in your community, in your job, in our nation, in the cities, in the world, and be able to wrestle it to the ground and get to the bottom of it.”
Thomas, who, at 32, was the youngest justice ever appointed to the state Supreme Court, received an honorary degree from Longwood when he delivered the commencement address in 2012. He used the university’s Latin motto, docemus docere, to challenge seniors to hone their skills of sharing knowledge and light in their last year.
“If you’ve got the motto to teach in order to enlighten, then you better have within your spirit the idea of sharing the light that is within you,” he said. “Light the soul, Lancers, from now on until forever.”
Our challenge: Be of our time and, like Joan, lead lives of example.Pia Trigiani, the rector of the Board of Visitors Tweet This
Pia Trigiani, the rector of the Board of Visitors, reflected on what makes Longwood special, including the care and concern shown by the university community in navigating the uncharted territory of the past year.
“You’ve not had the traditional four-year college experience,” said Trigiani, who is in her eighth and final year of service on the Board of Visitors. “But you know, and I know, how hard your faculty and university leadership have worked to make things normal. To provide for your safety, your well-being, and your education.”
She implored the seniors to learn the lessons of Joan of Arc, Longwood’s beloved patron hero, and to reflect upon, follow, and be inspired by her example.
“Joan was tough. Joan was fearless. Joan was fierce. Joan was empathetic. She understood the plight of others. Joan was the model citizen leader. She was of her time and needed in that time,” Trigiani said. “Our challenge: Be of our time and, like Joan, lead lives of example.”
Put away your worries. Put away your fears. Think only of your success. Let this year be the best.Senior Class Vice President Madison Levine Tweet This
Senior Class Vice President Madison Levine offered reflection in the form of a poem, Make It Last.
“Put away your worries. Put away your fears. Think only of your success. Let this year be the best,” Levine read. “Make this year last. Help friends and family smile. Thank everyone and give gifts. And remember those who lifted your spirits.”
Following tradition, Senior Class President Tyler Roebuck was capped on stage by his chosen capper, Ethan Lewter, and Provost Dr. Larissa Smith.
Six faculty awards are given at Convocation. This year’s recipients were:
- Maria Bristow Starke Faculty Excellence Award:
Tim Holmstrom, professor of physics and chair of the department of chemistry and physics
- Maude Glenn Raiford Teaching Award:
Naomi Johnson, professor of communication studies
- Maude Glenn Raiford Junior Faculty Teaching Award:
Kristen Boyle, assistant professor of mathematics
- Provost’s Scholarship Award:
Andrew Yeagley, associate professor of organic chemistry
- William David Stuart Leadership and Service Award:
Kim Little, professor of nursing and chair of the department of nursing
- Junior Faculty Award:
Sarah Tanner-Anderson, assistant professor of educational leadership and director of the Educational Leadership program
Dr. Derek Taylor, professor of 18th-century British literature in the English and modern languages department, was announced as Longwood’s Simpson Distinguished Professor. The award, established in 2015, recognizes a tenured faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to pursuing outstanding scholarship resulting in publications, presentations, or creative work in the visual or performing arts.