Jason “Ferg” Ferguson, M.S. ’12, Office of Admissions, Dr. Angela McDonald, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, and Sara Neher, College of Business and Economics, have been busy meeting with scores of faculty, staff and students, carefully listening and taking notes. Their takeaway? A deep appreciation for Longwood’s emphasis on building relationships and a keen understanding that the university’s overall success is tied to the personal connections forged among faculty, students, staff and prospective students. With that as a foundation, each new dean has wasted no time in setting goals for their programs that ultimately will mean success for the university.

What drew you to Longwood, and what are you most excited about in your new role?

A lot of universities are looking at how to be very strategic and thoughtful about how health and education intersect. When I saw Longwood was seeking new leadership for a College of Education, Health, and Human Services, I was excited because those are the areas where I’ve worked as an administrator.

This is absolutely a moment when highlighting and drawing on our historic roots in teacher education is deeply needed. We are also at a point where we have a lot of potential in the health sciences area. I’d love to help shine more of a spotlight on that.

I love that Longwood has a history of being deeply tied to the community. The campus is beautiful, plus I like our size and the fact that we are a public university—so this felt like the right fit. I like that Longwood is a place where people feel like they can be themselves.

You’ve been very intentional about fostering relationships with faculty and members of the campus community. Why is that important to you?

My focus this fall has been on getting to know the faculty because they are the No. 1 resource for the college. I am working my way through one-on-one meetings with 78 faculty members. When I’m done, I’ll know them and their needs. You cannot fast-track relationships, and, coming out of the pandemic, relationships are even more important.

Immediately behind faculty relationships is connecting with students and engaging with them. Then connecting with external partners will be my next focus. I’m very encouraged by my early interactions with the superintendent of Prince Edward County Public Schools, Dr. Barbara Johnson. I’m eager to continue to invest in that relationship.

My focus this fall has been on getting to know the faculty because they are the No. 1 resource for the college. I am working my way through one-on-one meetings with 78 faculty members.

Dr. Angela McDonald, dean, college of education, health, and human services Tweet This

How do you view your role as dean, and can you tell us about some of your priorities?

Helping students to have unique experiential learning opportunities is one area of focus. Building on our success in nursing and education to offer new pathways in teaching and the health professions is another. Showcasing our faculty expertise and sharing it with students and the community in ways that are innovative, creative and timely. That’s how we will grab the attention of students who wouldn’t otherwise consider Longwood.

We are aware of the challenges facing the fields of education and health care. What makes you hopeful about the future of these professions?

Our students. Those teacher and health care shortages are real. But it is also real that we have a lot of students who want to make an impact and see education, behavioral health and health care more broadly as places where they can have meaningful careers.

This fall we had a phenomenal teacher immersion day when we welcomed more than 200 prospective future educators. There’s something about dedicating your professional life to helping people that is not reproducible in other areas. We can make that happen for you, and we’ll support you in finding a really meaningful career.

Leave a Comment