On October 4, 2016, Longwood University stepped into the national spotlight. As the lights inside Willett Hall dimmed at 9 p.m., moderator Elaine Quijano stepped onto the stage and said, “Good evening. From Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, welcome to the first, and only, Vice Presidential Debate of 2016.” 

How to host a debate and make the most of an opportunity

Over nearly two years of preparation, Longwood set a new bar for what universities can achieve in hosting a debate. From more than 30 courses created to explore elements of our democracy to more than 700 student volunteers and an unprecedented amount of media coverage, our community was more engaged than ever before, and the debate continues to be a source of pride on campus.

During Debate Week, it was hard to find a face that wasn’t smiling. People cheered as Elwood walked onto the MSNBC set for his 15 minutes of fame. Students rocked out to pop sensation MKTO. Visitors enjoyed a taste of Virginia on Stubbs Mall. And a lucky 150 students—more than half the crowd—received tickets to see the debate live in the debate hall. Relive the experience through photos, videos and our live blog of the day.


Why host the debate? Here's why.

Goal 1

To engage faculty, staff, students and alumni in our mission of citizen leadership

For our student body, faculty, staff and 30,000 alumni, the debate was more than a point of pride—it was an opportunity to engage with campus in ways never before dreamed of.

In the weeks leading up to the debate and during the event itself, the Longwood community came together in a celebration of our campus spirit and our democracy.

Find out more 

Goal 2

To share the Longwood name and story with a wider audience

One of the 100 oldest colleges and universities in the country and the third-oldest public university in Virginia, Longwood, bolstered by its distinct mission of citizen leadership, capitalized on the attention the national Vice Presidential Debate attracts. By crafting a narrative that built on the distinct mission and history of the university, Longwood captured over $83 million worth of earned media, both nationally and internationally.

Find out more

Goal 3

To leave a legacy

Hosting the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate wasn’t just an opportunity for unprecedented campus engagement—it was a chance for Longwood to make significant long-term campus improvements, drastically improve its IT infrastructure, create a lasting sense of pride and forge a common future with Farmville.

Find out more