Some of the caps stood tall atop students’ heads, others featured strings of photos that reached down to the ground for this year’s Convocation ceremony that marked the beginning of the Class of 2023’s senior year on campus.
The cool late summer afternoon was a splendid backdrop for the celebration on Wheeler Mall, where in eight short months the seniors will again gather to receive their diplomas. Families and friends gathered for the traditional “capping” ceremony, where mortarboards are decorated with meaningful mementos of seniors' time at Longwood. No matter how high the decorations rise or how difficult the caps are to balance, they will be kept as symbols of students’ time at Longwood.
Congruency of life is when we are acting on the values we hold, the things that are most important to us.Dr. Tim J. Pierson, vice president of student affairs emeritus Tweet This
Celebrating alongside the class was the 2022 Convocation speaker, Dr. Tim J. Pierson, vice president of student affairs emeritus, who this year stepped away from the day-to-day duties he has held for 30 years and into a different role on campus.
Pierson shared wisdom he has accrued during his three decades in student affairs leadership at Longwood, urging students to live out the values they hold dear.
“Congruency of life is when we are acting on the values we hold, the things that are most important to us,” Pierson told the audience. “Those are the values we espouse, the way we treat one another. In student affairs, we often talk about the whole student development, every aspect of knowing yourself and your identity. A big part of that is trusting who you are and in the values that you hold and acting on those.
He also urged students to continue moving forward despite obstacles or mistakes, often drawing on lessons he learned from a lifetime of playing a sport that has become synonymous with his name on campus: basketball.
“You have to avoid carrying stones in your backpack,” he told seniors. “Those are weights that drag you down, whether it’s mistakes you have made or things you might have said. Those many regrets we have in life. If you keep ahold of those, you’ll have a backpack that you cannot carry around. You’ll need a little trailer. I estimate I’ve heard about 2,500 student disciplinary hearings in 30 years. And there was one thing I said every time: you are not a bad person. You made a poor decision. But when you leave there, leave that behind. Take your licks with that, own it, and leave it. There’s way too much drag for too many of us carrying things behind us that we don’t need. And that goes for forgiving others too. Don’t carry slights against you, let them go. It will lighten your load.”
Pierson’s legacy on campus was also celebrated from the podium. In a surprise honor after the keynote address, President W. Taylor Reveley IV announced that the Health & Fitness Center, where Pierson can be found many days shooting basketball, has been renamed Pierson Hall.
Students are here today in an exciting milestone in their academic careers–ascending to the ranks of the junior and senior classes and assuming their places as campus leaders.Mike Evans, the rector of the Board of Visitors Tweet This
Rector Mike Evans, serving in the role in his final year on Longwood’s Board of Visitors, noted that the community spirit and relationships that are built over college careers make campus a special place.
“Students are here today in an exciting milestone in their Qacademic careers–ascending to the ranks of the junior and senior classes and assuming their places as campus leaders,” said Evans. “You are honoring the meaningful friendships and connections you have made, and you are being honored for the contributions you continue to make in support of the success of your classmates. Students, you should be very proud.”
Senior Class President Ethan Lewter urged his classmates to take advantage of their final year on campus after three years of college impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What do you want people to remember you for when you leave here,” he asked. “Did you start a club, were you a president of that club, did you change one of your organizations for the better? Even beyond clubs and organizations, how do you want others to remember you? Were you friends with everyone, did you invite others to come, sit, and eat with you? Were you the person others could always count on? Again, how do you want people to remember you?”
Following tradition, Lewter was capped on stage by his chosen capper, Nick Carlstrom, and Provost Smith.
Six faculty awards are given at Convocation. This year’s recipients were:
Maria Bristow Starke Faculty Excellence Award:
Alec Hosterman, associate professor of communication studies
Maude Glenn Raiford Teaching Award:
Ryan Stouffer, associate professor of communication studies
Maude Glenn Raiford Junior Faculty Teaching Award:
Adam Blincoe, lecturer of philosophy in the Cormier Honors College
Provost’s Scholarship Award:
Dina Leech, associate professor of biology
William David Stuart Leadership and Service Award:
JoEllen Pederson, associate professor of sociology
Junior Faculty Award:
Eric Hodges, assistant professor of political science
Dr. Kim Little, professor of nursing and chair of the nursing program, 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.