As a resident of Farmville, I have been seeing signs around town that the beginning of the academic year is drawing near. The number of cars at rental properties is growing, and there’s more traffic on Main Street.
Soon students who live in Longwood-managed housing will arrive in vehicles packed with “essentials” that mom and/or dad will help them haul into the places they’ll call home for the next eight months or so. Keeping those “essentials” to a minimum is even more important this year than ever. Precautions prevent us from having our usual contingent of volunteers to help with move-in, so your student will be relying on up to three family members or friends to help. More move-in information is available here.
Even though 2020-21 will be different, there’s a lot that will be the same—including the sense of excitement and possibilities that comes with a new school year.
The plan for the semester continues to evolve, and your student received an email this past Friday detailing some new elements in that plan. Our What Will Fall Look Like? page has been updated with this new information that will help your student prepare to return to campus.
Here are a couple of especially important updates:
About 20 percent of classes this fall will be taught fully online. If your student is registered for a course that is moving from in person to fully online, they will be notified via email by the end of the day Friday, Aug. 7. The updates regarding class format can be found through the my.longwood.edu portal in your student’s “Week at a Glance.” If you have any questions about online classes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Face coverings will be required in public areas of Longwood-managed housing at all times.
Additional updates on our What Will Fall Look Like? page include information about how to keep safe prior to arriving on campus and what to pack.
Most importantly, please remind your student that a successful fall semester depends on their strictly following recommended guidelines: wearing a face covering, social distancing and frequently washing their hands. If they want to have a successful semester, they must do their part.
You may be aware that Gov. Northam has required each institution of higher education in Virginia to submit detailed plans covering all aspects of their reopening plans for the fall.
Longwood found out today that its plan—which was submitted last month—has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
The plan includes multiple aspects of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, including —Social distancing —Hygiene —Housing and dining adaptations —Protections for vulnerable individuals —Workplace safety measures —Health care policies and resources —Procedures for responding to positive Covid-19 cases —Communicating with the campus and local community
Longwood’s comprehensive planning documents, which are available on Longwood’s main Covid-19 website, were reviewed by SCHEV and the Virginia Department of Health. Approval means that the plan contains all 26 required components. It will continue to evolve and be updated along with changing guidance and as planning continues.
A key part of the planning for fall is rearranging classrooms so that every student and faculty member inside is socially distanced. Leading this effort at Longwood is Russ Carmichael, director of planning and real estate services, who says the university’s plan exceeds Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing inside buildings.
Longwood’s rearrangement of the chairs, tables, desks, lecterns and other furniture in every classroom on campus will result in at least—if not more than—6 feet of distance between all students and faculty while they are in class, he said.
“We began the process by taking measurements of each room and coming up with an estimate of what we could fit into each space. We then fed the dimensions of each classroom and existing furniture into a space-maximization computer program,” Carmichael said. “It returns a recommended arrangement. We use the computer output to best arrange furniture in a way that maximizes class seating availability while ensuring we aren’t compromising any spacing specifications.
“Each classroom is being assessed multiple times to ensure that social distancing is followed,” he added.
Because of the spacing requirements, each classroom will lose between 50 and 60 percent of its capacity, which means, for example, that a classroom with a normal capacity of 40 people will now be able to accommodate fewer than 20.
“It’s going to require some creativity when Academic Affairs staff assign classes to their rooms, but we can do it,” Carmichael said.
As parents, I know you have lots of questions about what campus life will look like and how classes will work in the fall for your student.
To give you a clearer picture as plans evolve, we have recently updated our Fall 2020 Covid-19 web page and our What Will Fall Look Like overview. Both of these provide information about classes, social distancing, face coverings, dining, testing, health care resources and other important topics related to the fall 2020 semester.
Working closely with the commonwealth, Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health, and following their guidance, we are still finalizing the details of some aspects of the plan. Your student will receive additional information in the weeks ahead, including an updated Student Handbook.
Faculty, staff and administrators are diligently getting ready for the return of students this fall. We know they’re excited to return—and we’re excited to have them back. All of us—students and parents included—have a part to play in accomplishing this safely.
Tim Pierson, vice president for student affairs, put it this way in an email to students yesterday: “Making this year work will depend on each member of our community owning their responsibilities to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Success for the school year will be up to all of us.”
Below are some essential components of a successful return to campus that Dr. Pierson and Dean of Students Jennifer Fraley communicated to students in that email. Your support of these guidelines is critical. Please encourage your student to follow them conscientiously with not only their own health and safety in mind but also that of their professors, their fellow students and the staff that keep the campus running smoothly. We also respectfully ask that you show your support by following any guidelines that are applicable to you if you visit campus.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send them to email@example.com.
Also this week,we were happy and relieved by the news that the proposed Department of Homeland Security directive regarding international students has been withdrawn. While it did not appear to affect Longwood as directly as many other institutions, our international student community is relatively small but deeply valued and will continue to have our full support. Longwood’s Center for Global Engagement continues to monitor the situation and work to help our students navigate a range of complicated travel and other issues related to returning to campus this fall.
Thank you for entrusting your student to Longwood. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously, especially in these challenging times.
Regarding New Covid-19 Guidelines: Excerpt from the July 15 emailsent to students by Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Pierson and Dean of Students Jennifer Fraley
Monitor your own health, and do your part to protect others. Follow the steps and guidelines Longwood is taking across campus to encourage social distancing. If you have symptoms, or are sick (with Covid-19 or otherwise), seek medical attention and don’t go to class. There are people in our community who may have higher risks than you. Commit to habits—from hand washing to face coverings to social distancing—that will help keep you well and ensure you’re not the one to pass on the virus.
Wear a face covering. Face coverings will be required this fall during all classes, in between classes, and at all times in many parts of campus. They should be worn anytime on campus when you cannot maintain six feet of distance. Get used to wearing a face covering, always have one with you, and make wearing one your default.
Own your academicresponsibilities. This is always an important part of your education. If you need to miss class because you are sick or are required to isolate, communicate with your faculty. Be assured, faculty will be there to support you with the resources for you to keep up with or make up classwork.
Citizenship. The Farmville community wants Longwood to be vibrant again. Around the country, there have been stories about Covid-19 spreading among college-age students ignoring health guidelines at crowded parties and events. People are wondering whether students will really do their part for their community, and to make college work this year, by acting responsibly. Prove those who doubt your commitment to our community wrong. Wear a face covering, socially distance, and avoid crowds, especially indoors. If our community members see Longwood students acting responsibly around campus and town, it won’t just help stop the spread of the virus, it will build trust that we’ll need to make this semester successful. This is what citizen leadership is all about—leading by example to do your individual part for the greater good.
In closing, one of the things that’s really different about Longwood is our honor code. When we each take it upon ourselves to behave honorably, trust and community follow, making Longwood more special. In the same way, if we all do our part and behave honorably in response to this pandemic, we will be able to experience what matters most about Longwood this year.
Now more than ever, we want to be sure that Longwood is a caring, welcoming second home for students where respect and equity of treatment are ensured for everyone.
President Reveley—describing recent weeks as a “national moment of reckoning regarding systemic racial inequality and discrimination” that requires action, not just words—announced yesterday the appointment of a campus Equity Action Task Force.
With a membership of students, faculty, alumni, staff and three members of the president’s cabinet, the task force will operate under a broad charge, including the development of three specific actionable steps to be implemented for fall 2020.
I hope you will read the full text of the president’s message, which provides a detailed and thoughtful look at what Longwood is currently doing to ensure equity and diversity, acknowledges that more needs to be done and lays out details for how the university will move forward with urgency in this critical area.
Here is a brief summary of the three specific steps that create a focus for the work of the task force:
1) A Commitment Against Incidents of Bias or Discrimination. “Any incident of discrimination goes against Longwood’s deepest values, and also its rules,” said Reveley. “But I believe we need a stronger, and more straightforward, process in place on campus to ensure any such reports are addressed seriously and fairly.” This would include creating an office focused on adherence to Title VI, the portion of the federal civil rights law that concerns racial discrimination.
2) Engagement By Every Student with the Moton Museum and Farmville’s Civil Rights History. In 2015, Longwood entered into a formal partnership with the Moton Museum (shown in the photo above), which honors Prince Edward County’s consequential civil rights history and the role of students at its Moton High School in the civil rights movement. A growing number of Longwood students have been visiting the museum each year as part of their classes or extracurricular activities. “For some time, I’ve felt every Longwood student should have that experience,” Reveley said. “Now is the time to make that so. The museum has something to teach all of us.”
3) Conversations on Campus. President Reveley has asked the task force to determine how best to structure conversations among members of the Longwood community—particularly students—who will return to campus this fall “profoundly affected by recent national events … [and] seeking space to converse, listen, process, heal and develop plans for action. These conversations may be difficult. But as a training ground of citizen leaders, Longwood has a particular obligation to guide and facilitate them,” Reveley said.
In concluding his message, Reveley states: “Again, the steps I am announcing today are by no means our only efforts in this regard. But I hope they will give some urgency and purpose to that work, focusing us on tangible goals where we can make progress, looking ahead to when we are back together again soon.”
—Fall classes will begin as planned on Monday, Aug. 24, with New Lancer Days for incoming students starting Thursday, Aug. 20.
—The last day of in-person undergraduate classes will be Tuesday, Nov. 24, the last day before Thanksgiving break.
—In order to ensure a full measure of instructional time, classes will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and there will be no fall break.
—After Thanksgiving, there will be a two-week review and final exam period, with the expectation that most final exams will be given online. —All students will receive information soon about the timeline and precautions in place around the move-in schedule.
Classrooms and Class Structure
—Longwood is in a good position to follow guidelines for social distancing in its classes. Only 15 classes on campus have more than 40 students, and only six have more than 50. Longwood has ample classroom space, including an additional 42,000-square-foot academic building opening this summer, and other large spaces may be repurposed as classrooms.
—Analysis of classroom space is ongoing, and spaces will begin to be reorganized soon to allow for social distancing.
—Following CDC guidance, we are upgrading and increasing the regular cleaning of all academic spaces and evaluating ventilation systems.
flexibility of instruction
—Web cameras in each classroom will enable instructors to make course content available more readily and encourage innovative teaching. This technology will also allow students to access material remotely and maintain academic progress if they must miss class due to health concerns or quarantine related to Covid-19.
—This fall all shared bathrooms in suite-style accommodations will be limited to a maximum of 4 students. There are no community-style bathrooms in Longwood residence halls.
—Longwood is making additional single rooms, including single bedrooms within suites, available to students through the housing assignment process at a discounted rate.
—All on-campus residence halls have advanced ventilation systems that provide each individual room with its own direct to-and-from circulation of outside air, so air is not circulated among rooms.
—We don’t know yet what guidance may be in place across Virginia regarding gatherings and events, including possible limits on the number of people present. Any restrictions in place will apply to Longwood’s extracurricular activities and campus life.
Longwood’s intercollegiate athletics program has its own set of comprehensive plans to protect the well-being of student-athletes, in close consultation with the NCAA.
The university continues to work on additional adjustments for the fall to ensure that university facilities, services and activities follow state guidelines designed to protect your student’s health. These will be communicated via email to students as they are determined—so tell your student to keep an eye out for updates. And I will work to keep the latest information flowing to parents via Parent Pipeline.
It’s another day of sunshine and blue skies in Farmville. Like many other employees, I am currently working from home, but I often take my daily walk on Brock Commons—and I can tell you the campus has never looked better, as you can see in the photo above.
We know that Longwood’s beautiful campus is meaningful to you and your student, so we’re “keeping up appearances” in preparation for the return of in-person learning this fall.
Speaking of the fall, I wanted to share some updates with you today just in case you haven’t seen them.
First, Matt McGregor, leader of the Covid-19 Incident Command Team, talks about the planning underway to ensure campus safety when students return in the fall.
I’m also including an introduction to Dr. Chris Kukk , the new dean of Longwood’s Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, who is bubbling with ideas for the college.
Q&A with Matt McGregor, Leader of the Covid-19 Incident Command Team
What is your role on campus as vice president for wellness and auxiliary services? I oversee health and wellness at Longwood, working closely with the three departments in student affairs that make up the wellness unit: campus recreation, counseling and psychological services, and the University Health Center. I came to Longwood in 2005 as the director of campus recreation, and I have been working with the entire wellness unit since 2009.
You’ve been leading Longwood’s Incident Command Team that has been responding to the Covid-19 crisis. Can you tell us about some of the work that’s already been done and what that group is continuing to do? We stood up the Incident Command Team in early March as the pandemic came to the U.S. The team includes representatives from the offices of Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management, Housing, Residential and Commuter Life, and Facilities as well as from the University Health Center. This summer we are focusing on preparations to open campus this fall, including developing protocols in the event we have Covid-19 cases, and establishing testing and contact-tracing guidelines for campus.
Longwood has said it’s committed to returning to in-person learning on campus this fall. What steps are being implemented so that students can return to campus safely to live and learn? All aspects of on-campus life are being assessed, from academics to housing and dining arrangements to enhanced cleaning methods to health practices and education. We’re also working closely with the other Virginia public universities and the state, in particular the Virginia Department of Health. Some of our plans are starting to take shape, and others will take place over the summer. But there are a few key principles guiding them. One is that we have to assume Covid-19 will be present across the country for some time. Another is that, in general, college-age students are at low statistical risk of serious health effects—but some with underlying health concerns, along with older people in our community, do have elevated risk. We can’t eliminate Covid. But we can develop prudent and manageable steps to mitigate spread and to protect those at higher risk. That’s our goal.
Can you describe some of the ways that residential life and campus life in general might be different when students return to campus? Can we expect that there will be social-distancing protocols in place? We are working on a number of ways to allow for more social distancing: —Arranging and assigning individual classrooms so they allow for more space between students —Offering more options for single rooms in our residential and off-campus managed housing facilities —Possibly limiting large events Other areas of focus will be on hygiene, scheduling and things like PPE that can help mitigate exposure in some circumstances. We also care a lot at Longwood about developing good citizens, so preparing students and asking them to act responsibly for the greater good are an important part of this. Even in such an unusual situation, we don’t want to lose sight of our mission. Our overall goal is to provide as normal a semester as possible, with some appropriate modifications to our activities. We will also be following the state guidelines as laid out by the phases of the Forward Virginia plan developed by Governor Northam’s office.
Will Covid-19 testing be available when students return in the fall? Both the federal and state recovery plans call for robust testing availability. The landscape of both testing technology and expert guidance is constantly changing. We believe wide availability of testing will be important, and we are working with health care providers and the state to explore a range of options and policies related to both students and faculty/staff. We will have testing capacity and practices in place, and we appreciate people’s patience as we work through exactly how that will work.
What is Longwood doing to be prepared if there are cases of Covid-19 on campus? The Centers for Disease Control has just issued some preliminary guidance about how to respond in such instances, and the commonwealth is working on that, too. But even as that guidance takes shape, we are planning to make sure students who need to isolate are taken care of and able to stay on track academically. We are fortunate that we have a good deal of flexibility and space in campus housing, which we will make use of.
When can we expect more details? We hope by mid-June to be able to communicate with faculty, staff, students and families in a way that gives a pretty good picture of what to expect next semester. We won’t have every answer then, and flexibility will be important, so over the summer those plans will take final shape.
What local health care resources are available? Longwood is very fortunate to work with Potomac Healthcare Solutions as our management partner at the University Health Center. The center is staffed with trained clinicians (doctors and nurse practitioners) and their support staff to meet the acute and urgent care needs of students, faculty and staff. They have been and will continue to be an active partner in our planning, management and response to this pandemic. We also work closely with Centra Health, the major regional health care provider, which has an outpatient clinic a block from the north end of campus and a hospital one block from the south end.
All colleges are wrestling with how students will return to campus in the fall. What makes you confident Longwood is well-positioned to do this? Our size and setting will be helpful in making in-person learning and campus life move forward this fall, while taking prudent steps to ensure public health. Through our response to Covid-19 on campus this spring, we have developed key relationships with the town of Farmville, Centra Southside Community Hospital, the Piedmont Health District and the Virginia Department of Health. All of these entities will be strong partners with us as we prepare to safely bring our students back for the fall semester. The safety of our students, faculty and staff will always be our first priority. There is no substitute for the on-campus learning experience, and we as a university are doing everything possible to safely return to college life this fall.
He talks about the Cormier Honors College as a hub for social entrepreneurship and its potential to be a nationally known center for the thinkers and citizens of tomorrow. These ideas and cross-disciplinary thinking aren’t just darts that get thrown at a board—they’re all connected in an intricate web of social science and responsibility that is fundamental, he says, to a thriving society.
These ideas are so important for the future of our world, says Kukk, there’s just no time to wait.
“When you put these really talented students from a lot of different backgrounds who have a lot of different interests in a situation that allows for experimentation, it drives the university forward,” he said. “As an education, that’s the best glass of chocolate milk you could drink every day. You just want to down it!”
During the selection process at Longwood, he outlined a vision of new kinds of careers—ones that take ideas from different disciplines and blend them together to come up with new questions to answer and new ways of addressing those questions. These are the jobs of the future, he said, and Longwood can be that undergraduate engine.
“Citizen leadership,” he said, “is social entrepreneurship. Let’s go after it.”
The Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars is a group of high-achieving Longwood students who live and learn together while completing honors courses that span multiple disciplines, maintaining rigorous academic standards and completing a study abroad experience before graduation. Named for Longwood’s 24th president, Patricia Cormier, the college received a record $2 million endowment gift in 2015 by Marc and Wilma ’66 Sharp and has become known as the home to academic innovation on campus.
Today is the day graduating seniors officially receive their degrees, and scoreboards across campus came to life with congratulations for the Class of 2020.
From Willett Hall, where the men’s and women’s basketball teams play their home games, to the home fields of lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and softball, the score was 2020.
Also in recognition of this year’s seniors, President W. Taylor Reveley IV sent out a special video message to the graduates this morning.
Faculty and staff added their heartfelt well wishes in a video sent out this afternoon.
Today is definitely a proud day for the entire Longwood family, and, parents, you’re a big part of that family. We look forward to seeing you on campus for the undergraduate Commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10.
Finally, we are honored that you have entrusted us with the task of helping prepare your sons and daughters to make the world a better place. We’re confident they will be successful.
One of my favorite things each year is working on a story about our current graduating class.
I’m currently in the process of gathering that information about students graduating in 2020. You may have already read about a few of our outstanding graduates on Longwood’s social media, but the ones I’m sharing with you today are an additional group.
As always, what I am hearing about these amazing students makes me very proud to be a part of the Longwood family.
Hats off not only to the Class of 2020 but also to their parents. You raised these young men and women right, and that’s no small accomplishment.
This year’s seniors have faced the challenges of a final semester unlike any in recent memory and have come out stronger on the other side. They’ve responded with creativity, hard work and a positive outlook.
Members of the Class of 2020 officially receive their degrees on Saturday, May 16. In light of current circumstances, the undergraduate Commencement ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10, with graduate ceremony the previous day.
As these graduates move to the next chapter of their lives, they’re exploring options and making plans, going off to graduate school or starting careers—all the while giving credit to those who helped them get to this point and cherishing the memories and the friends they have made here.
I found the reflections they shared with me uplifting and heart-warming—and I’m guessing we could all use a little more of that these days.
Here are just a few examples of what our 2020 grads doing after graduation:
Entering Ph.D. programs in chemistry at Clemson and North Carolina State
Studying for the CPA exam and working at Ernst & Young
Working as the communications and marketing manager for the Virginia Manufacturers Association
Looking into opportunities in cyber security, specifically the fields of ethical hacking and penetration testing
Starting a dual master’s program in international business and business analytics at the Hult International Business School Dubai campus
Teaching art at Dinwiddie Middle School
And here’s a little of what they had to say about their experiences at Longwood:
Derek Holmberg, physics major What’s Next: Ph.D. program in physics at William & Mary
“While all my professors have been amazing and helpful, Dr. Pestka has been my greatest mentor. I’ve learned so much about performing experiments, collecting data, analyzing data and doing error analysis through our work.”
Kelsey Ostrowski, nursing major What’s Next: R.N. at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on the Intermediate Vascular Care Unit, where her patients will include those undergoing kidney and pancreas transplants
“At Longwood, we focus on making our communities, nation and world a better place. That is a goal of mine: One action at a time. One day at a time.”
Karyn Keane, English major What’s Next: Master’s degree program in composition and rhetoric at Miami University in Ohio
“I’m a firm believer that the small class sizes at Longwood played a critical role in my success. I was able to form close relationships with professors who would become my mentors, and I received frequent, individualized feedback on my work.”
Zachary Rector, business administration major What’s Next: Area manager, Amazon
“The Alternative Break club opened my eyes and gave me a global sense of humanity. Serving in the Student Government Association made me realize that advocating for other’s needs is necessary.”
Trevor Heath, communication studies major What’s Next: Putting his aviation and marketing skills to work at Dominion Aviation Services in Richmond
“The amazing opportunities I had at Longwood made me realize that I couldn’t just fly for a living. I came up with the idea of moving into a career path of airport management, some professional flying and building a platform for youth to use in aiding their start in the aviation world.”
Megan Bland, biology major What’s Next: Doctor of Pharmacy program at VCU “I have had some of the most insightful and brilliant professors who really care about me and my success. There is such a great community here.It has always felt like home!”
Provost stresses commitment to in-person fall classes
In a Q&A published yesterday, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Larissa Smith makes it clear just how committed Longwood is to safely holding classes in person this fall:
Question: Longwood has said it’s committed to returning to in-person learning in the fall. Does that mean in classrooms on campus?
Answer: Yes, it does.
Dr. Smith goes on to say that Longwood’s smaller class sizes and room to spread out provide some advantages in safely holding classes in person come fall.
“…We both generally enjoy smaller class sizes, and we have space on campus to spread out. Longwood has always had very few large lecture courses,” she said. “Meanwhile, we have an additional 42,000 square feet of academic space coming online in the fall with a new building, giving us additional classroom space and flexibility.”
Acknowledging that Covid-19 will likely still be around this fall, she added that the university is also considering course-delivery options that could accommodate at-risk faculty and students.
And what if classes have to go fully online again?
“We plan to operate safely in the fall under the assumption that Covid-19 hasn’t been eradicated. We know that a fully online semester is not why undergraduate students choose Longwood,” Smith said. “We take extraordinary pride in the residential experience we offer students, so moving to a fully online semester would be a last resort. However, we do expect that we will rely more on our classroom technology and learning software to promote safe practices and flexibility.”
statistics class teaches students real-world lessons
As the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting the U.S. in March, Dr. Leigh Lunsford saw a unique opportunity for her MATH 301 Applied Statistics class to test their skills in a real-world situation.
The use of statistical methods is a key element in epidemiology. With numbers related to the spreading virus—and the response to it—readily available, Lunsford, professor of mathematics at Longwood, decided to assign her students a project based on the pandemic.
The goal of the project was to determine if Virginia was flattening its logistic curve of Covid-19 cases—in other words, was there a daily decrease in the growth rate of the total number of cases.
The class used data from the New York Times, which was tracking Covid-19 cases by state, covering the time period March 11 through April 6.
“It was cool to be able to use data from a real-world event for this report,” said one student in the class. “It made me more informed about the situation happening in our state right now. I also found it interesting to learn how statistics are playing such a major role in this pandemic and being used to make big decisions.”
Longwood is buzzing with activity as we make plans for the upcoming academic year, as we make financial aid more flexible, and as our creative students go ‘virtual’ with events and traditions and prepare for final exams.
Commitment to Fall Reopening makes news
President Reveley this week restated his commitment to bringing students back to campus this fall in a Richmond Times-Dispatch piece co-authored with the president of Hampden-Sydney College, our neighbor to the south. Reveley and HSC President Larry Stimpert joined forces to describe how and why they are working toward reopening their campuses. They say both schools will be able to accommodate needed changes more easily because of their smaller size.
“Can we open campuses safely this fall? With careful planning and attention to public health, yes,” they wrote.
“Official public health guidance and society’s collective efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 will determine the timeline for reopening. But because Virginia has been a leader in this work, barring extraordinary developments, we believe it is appropriate that we plan to reopen in the fall—with meaningful precautions and measured, creative approaches to resuming residential campus life.”
Also this week, Director of Financial Aid Sarah Doheny reached out to let current and prospective students and their families know that Longwood understands they may be facing financial challenges and we want to help.
One concrete expression of that commitment to help is the university’s decision to waive the 30-credit-hour requirement for merit scholarships. That means merit scholarship recipients can keep their scholarships for the 2020-21 year even if they didn’t successfully complete 30 credit hours this year.
If you have any questions at all—or just want to talk about financial aid options—please reach out to the Office of Financial Aid by phone or email. You’ll find a friendly, compassionate and knowledgeable person ready to help. You can contact the office at 434-395-2077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditions and Events Go Virtual
Finally, our students are putting their creativity and skills to work this semester to reconfigure some of Longwood’s most popular events and traditions for the virtual realm.
Last night’s CHI burningis one example. CHI, founded in 1900, is the oldest service organization at Longwood and a revered and treasured part of Longwood culture. Its purpose is to promote and maintain a spirit of cooperation among students during every phase of college life.
Another great example is the Relay For Life fundraiser held last week.
Anyone responsible for converting an in-person event to a virtual format—a skill in high demand these days—could take a lesson from the Longwood students in charge of this year’s Relay For Life.
The event is one of the biggest each year for Longwood and the Farmville community. In its normal format, it spans 12 hours and draws hundreds of participants in an effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to recognize loved ones who have survived cancer—or fought the good fight and lost. In one of the main activities, participants walk around the indoor track at Longwood’s Fitness Center, earning donations for each mile.
Covid-19 precautions made all that that impossible this year, so the 11 students on the Relay For Life committee put their heads together to come up with an alternative experience.
The goals remained the same as in the past, but this year everything had to move into the virtual realm, said event chair Savannah Wright ’20, a business/marketing major. It wasn’t easy—but the committee dug in and made it work.
The committee didn’t do anything slick or polished—just authentic, heartfelt and genuinely touching. That was enough. In a time of uncertainty, they raised nearly $69,000, marshaling the support of 613 participants, 1,800 donors and seven sponsors*.
Here’s how they went virtual:
—They created a livestream video each day of the three-day event that included about 45 minutes of “programming,” including survivor stories, memorials to lost loved ones, a trivia contest, a scavenger hunt, individual “Why I Relay” testimonials and TikTok team videos.
—One particularly moving segment on Day 2was about Caitlyn Martens-Baginski ’21, a Longwood transfer student and therapeutic recreation major, whose beloved father died from multiple myeloma. That wasn’t Caitlyn’s first experience with cancer, viewers learned. Years earlier, when she was just 6 years old, doctors discovered she had a life-threatening brain tumor. Treatment was successful—even miraculous, Caitlyn says—and she’s now been cancer-free for 12 years. —They kept the walk aspect of the event, encouraging participants to sign up donor pledges as usual, but the walking took place away from campus, wherever participants were riding out the stay-at-home order. Wright said this had the added benefit of incentivizing people to get outside and exercise.
Relay For Life is personal for Wright, who got involved because of her family’s history with cancer. “My grandpa passed away in 2009 from cancer, and my grandma passed away in 2015 from lung cancer. This is such an awful disease, and it makes me hurt for anyone who has to go through it. I joined this organization because I want to create a world with more birthdays and where cancer is a thing of the past.”
*Relay For Life sponsors this year were Navona Hart at RealLiving Cornerstone, one19, Brenco Solutions, Walk2Campus, Southside Electric Co-op, Benchmark Community Bank and Waldy’s Ice Cream.