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.

Why did you decide to come across town from Hampden-Sydney College, and what makes you most excited to be here?

I believe in President Reveley’s vision and in the academic experience we offer. In my short time here, I’ve become a bigger believer in Longwood’s people. At the end of the day, if you can put your faculty up against any other institution, that’s where you’ll win students. It’s not brick and mortar, it’s the people.

This is also a place that I know and love—I got my master’s degree here. It’s exciting to bring my 20-plus years of admissions experience here professionally and hopefully effect some change. We’re all interconnected in this town. I know that if Longwood succeeds, then Farmville succeeds, and Hampden-Sydney succeeds. I wanted to be a part of that and part of something bigger than myself.

What is your approach when it comes to the admissions process?

Again, universities and colleges are so much more than brick and mortar. It’s about the people, so relationships are everything. The philosophy I’ve embraced is all about making connections. That’s our role in the admissions process. When folks are here, we are making sure they are connected not just to a member of our staff but to a faculty member and then a current student. In the future, I want them connected to our alumni. That way they can see themselves here and then envision what they will be as they leave.

We’ve really embraced these admissions immersion days, which focus on a specific major or program. Prospective students get to sit down with faculty, making that connection and beginning a relationship that will continue once they are here.

Your job is to sell Longwood to prospective students. What is your “Why Longwood” elevator pitch?

I have really gravitated toward Civitae because it says a lot about the greater mission of Longwood. Our size is another top selling point. We’re small enough that students can get to know faculty on a very personal level. If you need to speak to a professor or find a mentor, you can do that here. It all ties back to those connections and relationships. We’re genuinely concerned and care about who you are and what you are going to be.

Coming out of the pandemic, these students need one-on-one interaction and mentoring. Bigger schools work perfectly well for some people, but they are not a great fit for everyone.

How have you seen the importance of relationships play out so far in your time here?

I’ve been to the Faculty Senate, and I’ve met with the academic chairs. As I scan the crowd, I see people from the community I know and didn’t realize had Longwood connections. That’s been great.

I can’t tell you just how welcoming everyone has been. It is easy to say to a prospective family that this is where you are going to be able to make personal connections. I know it’s not smoke and mirrors because I’ve seen it firsthand.

I also have to mention the energy and enthusiasm of our admissions team. Their passion for Longwood and our educational experience is something you can’t teach. If you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, prospective students and their families can see that. I knew I was inheriting a great staff who work well together and are very eager for Longwood to be successful. 

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