One of Longwood University’s most beloved professors will give this year’s Convocation address. As with everything else in Dr. Jim Jordan’s illustrious career as an anthropology professor, the focus will be on students.

Convocation, the official opening of the academic year, will be held Thursday, Sept. 11, at 4 p.m. on Lancaster Mall. Jordan, will speak on what he called "the life-altering experiences in the lives of students at Longwood."

Since classes began this semester, Jordan has given hundreds of students a slip of paper with the question, "The Most Important Thing I Have Learned At Longwood Is," and asked them to fill it out. His remarks will be based on their answers.

"I will lay their responses on a picnic table in my backyard and see what story they tell," said Jordan. "I will use those that hang together and tell a story. In some cases I will use their words."

Keeping the focus on students’ experiences by requesting their feedback is fitting for a student-centered event like Convocation, said Jordan, who in June was named a distinguished professor by Longwood’s Board of Visitors, the highest honor the Board can bestow on a faculty member. "I, the teacher, have become the student, and they have become my professor. This is a role reversal of the most earth-shaking sort."

One of the answers Jordan will use is from Joan of Arc, with whom, in the form of Joanie on the Stony, he had "a conversation all alone one evening. I will say what I think she would have told me," said Jordan, who has lectured on Longwood’s patron saint.

Jordan will be pulling double duty at Convocation. He is beginning his third year as chief faculty marshal and, in that role, he will also carry the mace in the procession. Jordan is only the ninth faculty member in Longwood’s 175-year history to be named a distinguished professor by the Board of Visitors.

Convocation will be held this year on Lancaster Mall, which is at the opposite end of the grassy area where students walk across the stage at Commencement. Holding the ceremony that marks the beginning of students’ senior year adjacent to the place where they end that special year was viewed as symbolic by President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

In a longstanding Longwood tradition at Convocation, this year’s seniors will receive an outrageously decorated mortarboard prepared by a close friend. Also at Convocation, several faculty members will be recognized for superior teaching.

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