Goal 1: Engage faculty, staff, students and alumni

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. Faculty created more than 30 courses exploring our democracy and election process, and invited prestigious speakers to campus in a yearlong series of talks that drew standing-room-only crowds. The more than 700 students who volunteered to be part of the effort were matched with roles that complemented their studies or interests—an unprecedented step for a debate host. One hundred fifty students experienced the debate from inside the hall—a memory that will never fade. More than 100 alumni hosted debate watch parties, complete with the special-edition Grain of Truth stout brewed especially for the debate. The elegant Decatur House in Washington hosted alumni for an elegant discussion of Vice Presidential Debate history in the days leading up to the event.

For three days, the Longwood community came together in a celebration of our campus spirit and our democracy. From TED-style faculty talks to lawn games to a chance to show some school spirit behind the network stages on campus, the atmosphere was electric.

Faculty/Staff Engagement

Faculty/Staff engagement
  • 30 courses across 15 disciplines were created for the fall semester—and more than 1,000 students enrolled in one of these special classes. The courses ranged from expected fields like history and political science to music appreciation, conceptual physics and even bookbinding. A joint photography-communication studies class took students to campaign rallies and the first Presidential Debate of the election, and offered participants a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the making of history.
  • Faculty across campus were deeply engaged in efforts to bring in speakers to discuss the obligations of citizenship. Guests included polling expert Dr. Sam Wang, a panel of cybersecurity experts and Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda.
  • A faculty-led Student Citizenship Summit brought more than triple the number of middle- and high-school civics and history students than expected. Nearly 700 students attended concurrent sessions and attended keynote addresses by Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and historian and former University of Richmond President Ed Ayers.


  • Student volunteers were the beating heart of the debate—the army that made the whole thing possible. More than 700 volunteered and were matched with roles that complemented their studies or interests—something no debate host has ever done. Communication studies students were paired with major television networks and made valuable connections for their future careers. Two students were even hired by Fox to work the January 2017 Super Bowl. Criminal justice majors got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Secret Service. Political science students worked closely with top campaign operatives.
  • Debate Hall - Approximately 150 students were ultimately able to watch the debate in person, accounting for nearly half of the live audience inside Willett Hall and fulfilling the university’s commitment to making students front and center in the debate experience. These included 100 students who had been awarded tickets at the ticket lottery several nights earlier, and a lucky 101st who was surprised when President W. Taylor Reveley IV handed over his own personal ticket.
  • Stubbs Mall was the place for students, visitors and alumni on campus to celebrate the debate. A steady stream of music was performed on the stage, highlighted by a Sunday night performance by pop sensation MKTO. The festivities culminated with a watch party on the mall that drew an estimated 1,200 students on debate night.


  • Longwood experienced a wave of interest from alumni eager to join in the debate effort, with 142 watch party kits dispatched to alumni in 18 states. Full of Longwood swag, social media pages filled with images of happy groups watching the debate in style.
  • Virginia craft brewer Brothers Brewing Company partnered with Longwood to create a special edition “Grain of Truth” Oatmeal Stout for the Vice Presidential Debate. It was the centerpiece of six alumni tap takeover events around Virginia and Washington, D.C.
  • In addition to tap takeover events, the elegant Decatur House in Washington hosted alumni for a discussion about the history of the Vice Presidential Debate featuring former moderator Bernard Shaw of CNN and Mike McCurry of the Commission on Presidential Debates.