Targeting Discrimination: Task force developing actions to ensure equity

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.”

—Sabrina Brown

Fall academic calendar announced along with other Covid-19 adaptations

In response to Covid-19, Longwood today announced several measures, including a slightly revised academic calendar, that are planned for fall semester.

Some new procedures are in place, some are in progress and others are subject to future state guidance. The full communication about these measures can be found on the university website.

Highlights include:
Academic Calendar and Exams

—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.


—Students will see a variety of new practices and setups in response to Covid-19. You can read here about some of the steps our food service partner, Aramark, is taking nationally.

Campus activities and Events

—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.

Future Measures

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.

—Sabrina Brown



Update on plans for safely reopening this fall, plus new Honors College dean

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.

Matt McGregor, associate vice president for wellness and auxiliary services

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.

New Honors College Dean Is Bubbling With Ideas

Dr. Chris Kukk, the charismatic incoming dean of Longwood’s Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, is absolutely bubbling with ideas.

Dr. Chris Kukk gives a talk on the power of compassion at a TEDxTalk in Nashville.

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!”

Kukk comes to Longwood from Western Connecticut State University, where he is a professor of political and social science and founding director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation.

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.

You can read more about Kukk and his plans for the Honors College here.

The Biggest Score of All: A Longwood Degree

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.

At the baseball stadium
Lacrosse and field hockey play their home games here.
Willett Hall, home of Lancer basketball

Also in recognition of this year’s seniors, President W. Taylor Reveley IV sent out a special video message to the graduates this morning.

President Reveley’s special message to graduating seniors

Faculty and staff added their heartfelt well wishes in a video sent out this afternoon.

Faculty and staff congratulate the Class of 2020

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.

—Sabrina Brown


Saluting the Class of 2020: Creativity, Grit and a Positive Outlook

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!



Learning Curves: A clear commitment to in-person classes and a real-world lesson in statistics

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.”

You can read the full Q&A with Provost Smith here.

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.

Dr. Leigh Lunsford, professor of mathematics, assigned students in her statistics class a project working with data from 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.”

You can read the full story here.

—Sabrina Brown


Lancer Roundup: Getting ready for fall, increasing financial aid flexibility and going virtual with Relay For Life

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.”

A Longwood task force is diligently working on a plan for fall.

Financial Aid Flexibility

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.

Director of Financial Aid Sarah Doheny encourages parents to call with any questions they may have.

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.

You can listen to Sarah’s complete message here.

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

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 burning is 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.

Relay For Life is one of the biggest events of the year at Longwood. In past years, it has drawn hundreds of participants, sponsors and donors. This year’s event, held earlier this month, moved into the virtual realm and raised nearly $69,000.

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.

The student organizers live streamed about 45 minutes of “programming” each day for three days via Facebook.

One particularly moving segment on Day 2 was 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.

—Sabrina Brown

Who’s Zoom-ing Who? Alumni help students prepare for the future with mock virtual job interviews

In today’s post, I’d like to tell you about something that happened in the business school that exemplifies so much of what Longwood is about, especially
—Our commitment to preparing our students for the future, whatever that may look like
—Our faculty’s innovative thinking and willingness to go the extra mile
—Our network of alums who care about the success of our students and give so generously of their time 

Here’s what happened.

Like most Longwood professors, Patti Carey, lecturer and director of student engagement and special initiatives in the College of Business and Economics, was faced this semester with the challenge of converting her in-person class, Management 391, to an online format. The class focuses on helping students to develop professional skills, including those needed to pull off a stellar job interview.

Mock interviews with volunteer business professionals are a critical component. They’re normally conducted in person on campus—but that wasn’t possible this semester.

So Carey and Nancy Postans, assistant director of Longwood’s McGaughy Professional Development Center, set about converting the interviews for 75 students to a virtual/remote format. The logistics of arranging those interviews with the 16 volunteer interviewers—half of whom were Longwood alums—was not a simple matter, but they got it done.

And, in fact, conducting the interviews using a virtual format was right on trend.

Now, more than ever, companies are relying on videoconferencing technology like Zoom, Google Hangout and Yello—as well as regular phone calls—to screen candidates. Some companies are even skipping in-person interviews altogether in the hiring process and may continue to do so after social-distancing requirements are lifted.

If you’ve never done one, a virtual job interview can be nerve-wracking the first time around, but the students taking Carey’s class this semester will be able to play it cool when they face that situation in the future.

“Some members of Generation Z seem to have an aversion to talking on the phone—it’s called ‘telephonophobia,’” said Carey. “Helping our students feel comfortable and confident in speaking professionally on the phone and being able to sell themselves well during a phone or virtual interview is critical.”

The volunteers, who work in a range of settings from businesses to government agencies to a biopharmaceutical company, each interviewed from three to seven students.

In addition to giving their time to conduct interviews, the Longwood alums who volunteered also took the time to answer my questions about the process.

“In my role I conduct many interviews,” said Jocelyn Blanchard ’99, senior manager for technology training at CarMax. “I’ve seen great people get passed up not because they aren’t qualified but because they couldn’t articulate why they were the best fit for the role. Interviewing is an art and, like many other things in life, the more you practice and get feedback, the better you’ll get.

“Video interviews are like in-person interviews in some ways, but different in others. Teaching students how to get familiar with the nuances of video interviewing is just as important as getting them prepared for in-person interviews,” she added.

Dan Hughes ’13, a senior manager at BGS Consulting in the Washington, D.C., area, interviewed seven students this semester and has helped out as an interviewer for the last five years.

“You could definitely tell it was more nerve-wracking for most of the students this year,” said Hughes, who has helped with the interviews for the last five years. “It’s a little harder for them to read my body language in a video. I also noticed that the students were pausing in their answers, and those gaps in the conversation seemed more prominent than in person.”

Hughes said students became less nervous and more comfortable as the interview progressed, indicating that the experience would help prepare them for interviews when a real job was at stake.

Gillian Coleman ’22, an economics major and a student in the class this year, agrees.

“I think having our interviews like this was extremely valuable. Especially in this day and time, everything is becoming more electronic and less face-to-face.”

“This gave me a way to have that first experience in a way that I knew wasn’t make or break,” Coleman continued. “I was able to really take in the experience instead of being worried that I was making a mistake that would impact my likelihood of getting a job. Overall it was just a great learning experience.”

Coleman was interviewed by Chris Tunstall ’88, assistant vice president for human resources at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, who said he was particularly impressed with how she handled her interview. “She clearly demonstrated her strengths in communication skills, work ethic and learning agility,” he said.

Also helping with the interviews this semester were these Longwood alums:
—Frank Bowman ’81, environmental specialist for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
—Tim Davis ’16, senior consultant at A-LIGN, a CPA firm specializing in cybersecurity
—Kimberly Garrett ’86, executive sales specialist at AstraZeneca
—Corrine Louden ’02, deputy inspector general in the Office of the State Inspector General
—Sally Pearson ’86, commissioner of the revenue for King William County

Tunstall, who also has volunteered to interview students for several years, said more and more organizations—including the Federal Reserve—are using virtual interviews in their job-selection processes, an observation that was echoed by several of the alumni volunteers.

“It’s critical for candidates to become familiar with this technology and practice using it.”

“Lancers will be more prepared for the future through this experience,” Tunstall said.

Carey is thinking the same way.

“When we go back to face-to-face classes, I am seriously considering keeping the virtual/phone interview assignment in addition to the face-to-face one,” she said. “I’d love for the students to have both experiences because they are both relevant and skill-building.”

—Sabrina Brown

New leadership team will help prepare campus to re-open safely this fall

As all of us are working through the current challenges of dealing with Covid-19, Longwood leadership is thinking ahead about how to re-open safely for in-person classes and activities this fall.

President Reveley announced yesterday the creation of a Covid-19 Planning Team of university leaders and experts who will look at all aspects of campus life and develop a plan that has the health and safety of your student as the top priority.

“Right now, we remain in the heart of a serious national crisis that is affecting countless families, and has been felt at every college campus,” Reveley said. “But as we push through this phase, like every sector of society, we’re already beginning to think about how to get safely back up and running again. With our setting, structure and experienced leadership, Longwood is well-positioned to find our way back to familiar routines of in-person learning this fall, while taking prudent steps to ensure public health.”

The Covid-19 Planning Team will work closely with community leaders, local health care providers and the Virginia Department of Health as it researches pertinent issues and prepares recommendations. The process will also include surveying parents, students and university stakeholders to garner feedback, questions and concerns.

“They will research and report back to the President’s Council with creative and informed recommendations covering every aspect of campus life—from academics to housing and dining arrangements to health practices around testing and responding if cases emerge,” Reveley said.

The Covid-19 Planning Team includes

  • University Chief of Staff and Vice President Justin Pope
  • Associate Vice President of Wellness Matt McGregor
  • Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs David Shoenthal
  • Incoming University Police Chief Doug Mooney
  • Associate Vice President for Operations and Services Lori Blackwood (MBA ’17)
  • Moton Museum Executive Director and Centra Southside Community Hospital Board Member Cameron Patterson ’10
  • Assistant Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams

“This group will build on the outstanding work of our Incident Command Team, which has helped us navigate our response this spring to the national Covid-19 outbreak, and tap their expertise as well as broader guidance,” said Reveley.

McGregor, who oversees student health, will also represent the Incident Command Team, which he leads. The Incident Command Team includes representatives of Longwood’s offices of Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management, Housing, Residential and Commuter Life, and Facilities, as well as the University Health Center.

“In a few months, we’ll live in a world where the virus has subsided but not been eliminated,” Reveley said. “We cannot be exactly sure what that will look like on campus, and public health will be our paramount consideration. But so much is at stake for our students and our community in college life returning. I am confident Longwood will be a leader when it comes to safely navigating this challenge.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Pierson added, “On the other side of this, we’ll all appreciate that much more the opportunity to be together in person on Longwood’s residential campus. Campus may need to feel a little different in some ways next fall, but I’m confident that with the help of this group we can find the right balance, and return to a more familiar Longwood.”

Anyone with questions about Longwood’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak can email

Longwood’s COVID-19 Response: Information for Parents

Today’s post will bring you up-to-date on actions Longwood has taken most recently in response to the virus. Your student has already received this information, but we realize that they may not have passed it along to you.

Below are excerpts from recent messages that have gone out to students from the president and two of Longwood’s vice presidents about spring semester. Topics covered are
—Grading Policies and Withdrawal Deadline Extension
—Refunds and Student Employment

W. Taylor Reveley IV, President
Excerpt from an April 10 communication to students

I promised last month that the Class of 2020 would walk for in-person graduation… . We’ve been working with government officials and campus and community leaders to identify a date as soon as possible that is also as reliable as can be. We have a date: Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be on the weekend of October 9-10.  As would have been the case this May, the graduate ceremony will be on the Friday evening, October 9, and the undergraduate ceremony will be on the Saturday, October 10, during the day. It will be a full weekend of celebration—with plenty of opportunity over the course of the weekend for you to celebrate and reconnect.

Campus and Farmville are so beautiful in the fall, and earlier dates that we explored so closely continued to have risk of disruption by this crisis. We’ll have more precise details regarding exact times and logistics in the weeks ahead.  (And be assured that by finishing your academic requirements you still officially become a Longwood graduate in May. We’ll explore ways to mark that occasion too, without taking anything away from October.)

Read the full text of President Reveley’s message here.

Grading Options and Withdrawal Extension
Dr. Larissa Smith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Excerpt from a March 27 communication to students

Alternate Pass/Fail option – Undergraduate students now have the option to choose an alternate Pass/Fail grading scale for any course that had been face-to-face but moved online for the rest of the semester. This is not a decision to rush into, which is why you have until Friday, April 24, to submit your decision to the Registrar’s office. You must consult with your academic advisor about this decision and fill out a form.

The new grading option includes the following grades:

  • PV denotes work at the C- level or better.
  • DV denotes work at any “D” grade level (D+, D, D-).
  • FV (Fail) denotes failing work.

For more detailed information on how to select this option, visit the University COVID-19 FAQs.

Depending on the academic program, these grades can fulfill program requirements. These grades will not be computed in your Spring 2020 semester GPA. Graduate courses and courses that started online at the beginning of this semester are not eligible for the alternate pass/fail grading scale option.

Withdrawal deadline extension – The withdrawal deadline for courses has been extended until Friday, April 24. Please be aware that course withdrawals may affect your financial aid. You should contact the staff in the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions.

These are important decisions that encompass a lot of factors, including your academic major or minor program requirements, and you do not have to make them alone. Reach out to your academic advisor or other faculty and staff for advice. We are here to help you make the most informed choices possible and to help you finish the semester during this unprecedented and stressful time. You and your education are important to us.

Read the full text of Dr. Smith’s message here.

Refunds and Student Employment
Dr. Tim Pierson, Vice President for Student Affairs

Excerpt from a March 25 communication to students
Someday soon enough, we will get to celebrate being back on campus. In the meantime, we want to help with the financial burden families are facing, and provide housing and dining refunds as best we can. We know no solution is perfect, and that individual circumstances vary. But we’ve worked hard to develop a plan that’s 1) clear 2) as fair as possible and 3) we can deliver as soon as possible. That’s important because we know many of you are facing challenges now. The Lancer family is all in this together.

Here is what we are doing:
Student workers will continue to be paid through the customary close of the semester, May 9.  Graduate assistants will also continue to be paid through May 9. We’ll be in touch about how hours will be reported the rest of the semester. We know that this is money you depend on.
Students with a Longwood housing and dining plan will each be paid a refund of $1,000.
Students with a commuter Longwood dining plan for the spring will each be paid a refund of $300.
Please remember, these housing and dining refunds  are being split into two payments to you—one now, and one in July.  The first set of housing and dining refunds has been mailed and should soon be arriving at your home address. If you have questions, please email

We think this straightforward and equal approach is what’s fairest to our whole community, and will help you and your families as we all work together through this challenging time.

Excerpt from an April 9 communication to students
Bonus dollars. If you are a continuing student, your unused bonus dollars will be rolled over for use in the 2020-21 academic year. If you are graduating, you will receive a refund in July of any remaining bonus dollars.
Parking. If you are a continuing student with a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, you will have a $50 credit applied to your account in July. If you are graduating and had a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, your July refund check will increase by $50.

If you have questions, please email

Read the full text of Dr. Pierson’s messages here:   March 25    April 9

For Additional Information About Longwood’s COVID-19 Response

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