Funding Available for Life-Changing Experiences: Undergraduate Research

“Studies show that undergraduate research is one of the most meaningful and high-impact experiences a student can have, profoundly shaping their learning, their work habits and sometimes even their lives.”

The person who said this knows what she’s talking about. Dr. Larissa Smith is Longwood’s provost and vice president for academic affairs as well as a longtime history professor.

But Longwood does more than just talk about the transformative power of undergraduate research—we put some serious cash behind it. And your student could be on the receiving end of those funds—and the life-changing experiences they support.

There are two opportunities your student can look into:
—PRISM, Longwood’s summer research program
—Fall and spring disbursement of research funds based on proposals submitted by students

For this fall, funding will be distributed in two rounds. The deadline to apply for the first round of funding is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. Applications for the second round of funding are due at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. Projects from all disciplines are eligible for funding consideration—everything from theatre and art to business and the sciences. Students can work individually, or they can collaborate in groups of two or three.

One full day each semester is devoted to student research. This past spring, students made 374 poster presentations and 85 oral presentations representing more than 25 academic disciplines.

Awards for successful proposals can be as much as $500 per student.

That “pot of gold” lies at the end of an application process that includes detailing a well-thought-out project and getting a recommendation from a faculty member. It also includes submitting a project budget of eligible expenses (this is a learning experience in and of itself) that can include things such as lab equipment, art supplies, software and travel.

So, if your student is interested, tell them to get going on that application. It’s available at

Also coming up in early November (exact date TBA) is the deadline to submit an application for Longwood’s eight-week summer research program, PRISM, which stands for Perspectives on Research In Science and Mathematics. With a focus on intense research and tangible results, PRISM puts students at the center of the research process, working alongside a faculty member.

Sarah Elsakr’s PRISM research project this past summer could have been ripped from an episode of the forensic crime drama television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Elsakr (foreground), a rising senior, worked with Dr. Sarah Porter, associate professor of analytical chemistry, testing burned carpet samples to determine which petroleum product was used as the ignitor. The goal was to research alternative testing methods for use in arson investigations, as well as other areas of forensic and environmental chemistry. PRISM provides a $3,500 stipend plus free room and board for students selected to participate.

Students who are chosen to participate receive a $3,500 stipend plus free room and board. Funding is also provided for equipment, supplies and travel. Your student can keep an eye out for the summer 2020 application on the Office of Student Research website:

So many Longwood students have said that doing research was a defining experience that set them on a life/career path they wouldn’t otherwise have known existed. Maybe your student would be just as profoundly affected.

—Sabrina Brown


Sound Bites: New Rankings Yield Impressive Talking Points for Longwood

So you’re hanging out with some friends whose children also are in college, and the conversation winds its way around to a comparison of the universities your sons and daughters are attending.

Here are some new talking points about Longwood you can have ready to drop into that conversation, just out from U.S. News & World Report and

In the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings:
*Longwood ranks No. 6 among the Best Public Universities, South Region, moving up two spots from last year. This continues a steady climb from Longwood’s No. 12 spot in 2013.
*In the South, Longwood is recognized as the “Best Value” among Virginia public universities.
*Longwood ranks No. 13 in Best Universities, South Region (a list including all public and private institutions)—up from No. 25 last year.
*Longwood is included in the ranking of Best Undergraduate Teaching, South Region.

In the national ranking of nursing programs by
*Longwood ranks No. 1 in Virginia and among the best in the country. This achievement is thanks to Longwood’s 100 percent licensure pass rate for the last three years—an accomplishment few other schools in the country can claim.

Longwood’s nursing simulation lab gives students practical experience in a controlled setting. Longwood’s nursing program was named the top program in Virginia and among the best in the nation by

Here’s how Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley puts the rankings into context:

“Rankings can fluctuate year to year, and they aren’t the focus of our goals at Longwood. But when an institution rises over time, it’s because of a rise in underlying numbers that do matter. Those include survey results on how others view our academic reputation, our success in helping students graduate and continuing to add full-time faculty to keep classes small at a time when most institutions are doing the opposite. All those things count in the formula but they aren’t just numbers—they shape the college experiences and lives of our students.

“I’m especially proud to see the excellent value of a Longwood education recognized,” Reveley said. “We know that our work in recent years to have among the very lowest annual tuition increases in the state—including a freeze this year—makes a real difference to students and families.”

Among the factors that account for Longwood’s sustained rise in the rankings: a graduation rate that exceeds expectations and a strong freshman retention rate—the number of students who return for their sophomore year. Both were points of emphasis in Longwood’s 2015 Strategic Plan.

Also, Longwood continues to invest heavily in full-time, tenure-track faculty— offering students smaller classes taught by professors who are making their career at the institution. Since 2012, Longwood’s ranks of tenured and tenure-track faculty have increased by 43 faculty members, amounting to growth of 25 percent.

That comes as universities across the country have scaled back full-time faculty hiring, relying more on adjuncts, graduate assistants and part-time staff to teach classes. Longwood has capped Civitae core curriculum classes—the general education requirements that make up the foundations of citizen leadership—at 25 students, a far cry from the 100+-seat lecture halls that are common on college campuses.

In its rise in the rankings, Longwood has moved ahead of several well-respected institutions, including the Converse College and University of Mary Washington. On the list of regional public universities in the South, the top three Virginia schools included are James Madison, Christopher Newport and Longwood.

The Best Value ranking system compares overall ranking with total cost, factoring in the amount of need-based aid and the average discount given. Longwood is the only public university ranked in that category this year.

So you can be proud of the university your child selected (with help from you, of course), and you can feel confident that the investment you’re making in your child’s education is a good value.

—Sabrina Brown


TGIFFB—First Friday Back and The G.A.M.E.

They’re not Longwood’s oldest traditions but they’re definitely some of the most fun.

The fifth annual First Friday Back and The G.A.M.E. (Greatest Athletics March Ever), which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, brought out students in droves last Friday, Aug. 30. About 1,000 Lancers turned out, and Elwood, Longwood’s mascot, got in on the action, too, busting a move in front of an adoring crowd.

The events provided a welcome time to relax and take a break after the first week of classes.

Students found out even land sharks are terrifying.

They took their best shot at putting their fellow students under water.

And they satisfied their carnival cravings with cotton candy, snow cones and popcorn.

A highlight of the afternoon was the big reveal of the design of this year’s Longwood Scarf, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a must-have Longwood accessory. About 1,400 scarves were handed out.

Then it was time for the milelong march to the Athletics Complex, where students received their scarves, enjoyed a picnic and rooted for the women’s soccer team in a match vs. UNC Charlotte.

Each year Rochette’s Florist donates roses for students to pass out to community members along the route of the march—or to keep themselves.

Some students make it a point to collect a set of scarves, one from each year they attend Longwood.

Students enthusiastically supported the efforts of the women’s soccer team, one of Longwood’s more successful sports. The team finished in the top three of the Big South Conference last year.

A big shout-out to the organizers and sponsors of these First Friday Back and The G.A.M.E.: University Center and Student Activities, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Athletics, Lancer Productions, SGA, Marketing and the Office of the President.

FINALLY DON’T FORGET ABOUT FAMILY WEEKEND, which is coming up Sept. 20-22. Registration at the early bird price goes through tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 6, but you can still register online after that date or on campus at the event. Family Weekend is a great opportunity to share the Longwood experience with your student.

For details, go to .
To register, go to


Full Steam Ahead: 2019-20 Is Off and Running

New students caught some Lancer spirit and learned about traditions during the New Lancer Days pep rally.

It began with freshman move-in last Thursday, revved up with New Lancer Days and continued through the first day of classes. Tomorrow’s First Friday Back extravaganza, which culminates with The G.A.M.E. and the distribution of the Longwood Scarf, will put an exclamation point on the beginning of the 2019-20 year.

A proud mom on freshman move-in day.
Never too busy for a photo op—even on move-in day.

The start of the year has been hectic, fun, exciting and, for some of your students, a bit overwhelming. They have been getting back in touch with their friends, making new ones, going to pep rallies and meetings, sizing up their professors, figuring out where their classes meet, going to the gym, thinking about what clubs they might want to join and myriad other activities that come with the beginning of the school year.

So, if the calls and texts from your student have been few and far between during the last few days, that’s probably why.

The pep rally and the Honor and Integrity Ceremony were high points of New Lancer Days, several days of activities introducing new students to Longwood.

This is what Lancer spirit looks like! Students fill the stands at the New Lancer Days pep rally.

Held this past Sunday, the pep rally gave students the opportunity to meet Longwood’s athletics teams and to find out about some of the university’s traditions, including The G.A.M.E., which happens tomorrow as part of First Friday Back. Please encourage your student to attend.

The G.A.M.E. stands for Greatest Athletics March Ever. It involves the entire student body walking en masse from the main campus to the athletics fields about a mile away, where students receive this year’s version of the Longwood Scarf and cheer on one of Longwood’s athletics teams. This year they’ll be rooting for the women’s soccer team as they take on UNC Charlotte.

To receive a scarf, students must pick up a wristband prior to the march. If your student wants a scarf, they need to be sure to get a wristband.

Other First Friday Back activities tomorrow include inflatables, ice cream, a DJ and more.

All new students sign a pledge to uphold the Honor Code.

The Honor and Integrity Ceremony, held Aug. 23 this year, is a time-honored Longwood tradition that emphasizes the importance of Longwood’s Honor Code, a three-part commitment to honesty and personal integrity that includes the Honor Creed, the Academic Pledge and the Honor Pledge. All new students pledge to uphold the Honor Code during the Honor and Integrity Ceremony. The text of the three components is below.

The Honor Creed
We shall not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.

The Academic Pledge
I have neither given nor received help on this work, nor am I aware of any infraction of the Honor Code.

The Honor Pledge
I, ___________, having a clear understanding of the basis and spirit of the Honor Code created and accepted by the student body of Longwood University, shall at all times govern my university life according to its standards and actively work to support its principles, thereby thoughtfully accepting my responsibility for preserving the honor and integrity of all past, present and future members of the Longwood University community of scholars. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.

The Honor and Integrity Ceremony is a serious occasion attended by faculty and students. Members of the student Honor and Conduct Board (in the long blue robes) are seated on the stage.

Students throughout campus take the Honor Code very seriously. Alleged violations—including issues of lying, stealing, cheating, academic integrity and plagiarism—are heard by the Honor and Conduct Board, a rigorously selected group of students that makes recommendations on decisions about alleged violations.

I hope your student is off to a great start this year! Go Lancers!

—Sabrina Brown


When the FERPA Flies: Your access to your student’s education records

A lot is said about the transition young people go through as they move from high school and living at home to college and new freedoms and responsibilities. But we don’t hear as much about the wide-ranging adjustments parents have to make along with their children.

We all know it can be hard not to have your student under your roof at night, and that it’s easy to worry about how they’ll handle college life.

But we might not think about the legal implications of having a child in college, including the fact that, once their child is enrolled in college, parents are no longer the “owners” of their students’ education records.

These education records were “owned” by parents when their student was in high school. Now that their student is enrolled in college, the records are “owned” by the student and protected under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly referred to as FERPA (pronounced FUR-pah, for those who may not have heard of it before).

Under FERPA, parents don’t have the right to access their child’s education records without the student’s written permission, even if that student is not yet 18 years old. (The same is true for medical records held by Longwood’s University Health Center.)

Education records include but are not limited to

—Class lists
—Student course schedules
—Student financial information, including bills. (Financial aid awards will also go into the account specified by the student.)
—Student discipline files

Your student had the opportunity to fill out a FERPA release during orientation. If they did so, that means Longwood staff and faculty have the student’s permission to release information to you. However, even though Longwood can give out the information, we may not—at least not at first. And here’s why.

“Our first goal is always to get the student to talk to their parents,” said Susan Hines, Longwood’s registrar. “When a parent calls asking for information, we always encourage them to talk to their student and to get the information from them. We completely understand the parent’s role in their student’s college career, and we understand that often parents are paying the bills.

“But we also feel an obligation to help students grow and become independent. Part of that involves understanding and taking on tasks that, in the past, may have been completely handled by their parents. It’s difficult for young people to learn how the world works unless they have responsibility for taking care of the details. And we understand that this can be a major adjustment for parents.”

Hines also would like parents to know that, even if their student signed a FERPA release form at orientation, the student may rescind that release after they arrive on campus. It happens more often that you might think, she said.

“This is another time for parents and their students to talk,” Hines said. In these cases, the student must fill out another release form and bring it in person to the Office of the Registrar to reinstate permission for their parents.

If you’d like to find out more about FERPA, you can go to the U.S. Department of Education at or the Longwood website at–regulations/family-educational-rights-and-privacy-act-ferpa/.

—Sabrina Brown

How to Be Successful at Longwood: Freshman’s Advice is Right on Target

Sometimes young people pay more attention to advice from their peers than they do from their parents. As the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year approaches, I thought it might be helpful to share these words of wisdom that came to me from a Longwood student as she was finishing her freshman year.

The words below are all hers. I promise. I didn’t even ask her to write about this topic—it was her idea. Honestly, I was more than a little surprised at how much she’d learned in just one year as a college student. I’m not sure I could come up with such a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts.

If you can convince your student to read her pointers below and take them to heart—even if your student is a sophomore, junior or senior—you will be doing them a great service.

*Go to office hours, go to office hours, go to office hours! Your professors really want to help you and see you succeed.
*Go to the library. Dorm rooms are full of noise and distraction.
*Get involved!
*When you go to D-hall, don’t be afraid to sit with someone new—especially during the first few weeks of school. It is good to talk to new people.
*If/when you get homesick, call your family and friends!! Everyone gets homesick. It’s normal if this is the first time you have been away from home and on your own!
*Learn how to manage your time.
*Buy a planner, and write everything down.
*Read your course syllabi.
*During the first week of classes, find out where your professors’ offices are located, and go meet them in person. Find out when their office hours are scheduled.
*Don’t be afraid to do things by yourself.
*Make it a point to know people in your class so you can create study groups.
*Make time for yourself: Read a fun book, go to the gym, take a break from social media, buy a devotional.
*Go on Lancerlink to look up clubs.
*Go to Lancer Productions events and other campus activities.
*Create a routine, and have a regular sleep schedule.
*Do not procrastinate! Deadlines and exams come up fast. Don’t cram—study a week ahead of time, and study a little each day.
*Use Quizlet. It is a lifesaver!
*Start assignments when they are assigned.
*One day at a time.
*Take classes that interest you.
*Check your email daily. Download the Canvas app.
*Clean your room or at least make your bed every day. It’ll make going to bed more comfortable, and you can concentrate more on homework.
*Make time to do fun things.
*Don’t spread yourself too thin—don’t join too many clubs or organizations.
*Go to Pairet’s. You can customize what you want, and it’s way less expensive.
* Go to the Writing Center, and go to tutoring.
*Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
*Go to the CHI walks.
*Open and read your textbooks. Just because your professor doesn’t cover it in class doesn’t mean you won’t be tested on it.
*Take risks. You just might get that position that you apply and interview for.
*Work hard and stay positive.

—Sabrina Brown, with sincere thanks to Brooklynn Weissenfluh ’23

Fun for the Fam: Family Weekend Sept. 20-22

It’s not time yet to pack your bags, but it is time to think about registering to attend Family Weekend, which is set for Sept. 20-22. This event gives you the chance to spend time with your student as well as learn more about the university where they will be spending the next four years (give or take).

Parents and other family members can get to know Longwood better—and spend time with their student—during Family Weekend.

The cost is only $20 per person (students attend free) for a weekend of fun activities on campus, though a few events do have an additional cost. Details are available on the Family Weekend website.

When we say Family Weekend is for the whole family, we mean the WHOLE family.

You can also submit your registration on the website and find information about nearby accommodations. It’s a good idea to go ahead and make your hotel reservations if you’re planning to attend.

Here are a few of the weekend’s highlights:

  • Friday
    • Casino Night with food and cash bar
  • Saturday
      • Exploring downtown Farmville

        Be sure to take some time to explore downtown Farmville.
      • Yoga class
      • State of the University address from President W. Taylor Reveley IV
      • Picnic lunch
      • Activities: volleyball, cornhole, ladder golf and more
    Cornhole is one of the games planned for Saturday afternoon.

    Department open houses

    • Free admission to the Robert Russa Moton Museum
    • Dessert reception sponsored by the Parents Council
    • Entertainment by mind reader, hypnotist and psychic entertainer Robert Channing

For the most up-to-date information, including changes to the schedule of activities, download the Guidebook app and search for Longwood Family Weekend 2019.

You can also call 434-395-2103 if you have questions.

It’s sure to be a fun weekend. We’d love to see you here—and we bet your student would, too!

—Sabrina Brown

Happy 4th of July and Welcome to the New Members of the Lancer Family

Because the Longwood campus is relatively quiet during the summer, Lancer Parent Pipeline doesn’t publish regularly between the end of May and the beginning of August.

But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to welcome the many parents who signed up for the blog during new student orientation last week. Thank you for joining!

Orientation introduces new students and their parents to Longwood and what lies ahead.

We are so excited that your students have chosen Longwood, and we can’t wait for them to arrive on campus next month. They—and you, too—have an incredible journey ahead.

Peer Mentors are a big part of orientation and a great resource for new students.

There are so many opportunities for students to take advantage of here:

Brock Experiences

Brock Experiences are a group of courses that take students throughout the U.S. to explore important issues. This summer students followed the path of the Colorado River as they learned about water rights.

—An incredible variety of student organizations
Intramural and club sports

Intramural sports compete against other teams of Longwood students. Club sports compete against teams from other schools.

—WMLU, our student-run radio station
—The Rotunda, our student newspaper
Music ensembles
PRISM and other research opportunities

PRISM gives students the opportunity to conduct research during the summer alongside faculty members. The program provides housing and a stipend, as well.

And there are many, many more.

Please encourage your student to get involved on campus. I know it can be hard for freshmen—and even students who have been here a year or two—to put themselves out there, but they’ll be so glad they did. They’ll make friends, meet others who share their interests, learn something new and discover their own potential. They may be surprised at how easy it is to connect with other students and faculty here.

College is a place for your students to develop their independence, so it’s fitting that we’re talking about just that on Independence Day. But don’t worry, parents of freshmen, your students will still need you—just maybe in a different way.

If you’re seeing this post as a member of the Lancer Parent Pipeline Facebook group, remember that you can also sign up for a weekly email of posts at: (You can unsubscribe at any time if it doesn’t work for you.)

I hope you and your families have a wonderful 4th of July!

Look for the next Lancer Parent Pipeline post in August.

Sabrina Brown

A Few Reflections on Commencement and the Class of 2019

Where did the time go?

For those of you whose students graduated this past Saturday, I imagine this is a thought that has crossed your mind several times since then.

Wheeler lawn overflows with happy graduates and their families.

Being a part of commencement—even peripherally—has always been one of my favorite things about working at a university: a crowd of excited soon-to-be graduates; happy (and sometimes relieved) families and friends; witty mortarboards; loads of smiles and a few tears. What’s not to love?

You’ll get to meet some of the members of the Class of 2019 in the July issue of Longwood magazine. (If you would like to be added to the magazine mailing list, email me at

Yahoo — all through!
Commencement means smiles all around.

I guarantee you’ll be impressed with how Longwood has prepared them for life after graduation.  Here’s a bit of a sneak preview:
—Two young women are heading off to teach in a remote village in Alaska.
—One student was inducted into the U.S. Army and will be working on a Ph.D. in emerging infectious diseases at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
—Another is already working as a storyboard artist for SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon.

I must admit I see commencement a bit differently now that my own daughter has walked across the stage at her university. It’s one of those occasions that marks an end and beginning, so I’m wondering if we’ll be together next Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m wishing I’d spent more time talking to her about things that matter. I’m wanting to know a little bit more about the person she became during her college experience. And, of course, I’m very excited about what lies ahead for her.

It’s a Longwood tradition for faculty to greet students after they cross the stage.
The identities of seniors who portrayed Longwood’s mascot, Elwood, are revealed at commencement.

So, for those of you whose students have a year or three or four still to go here at Longwood, this is my advice. Resist the temptation to wish for your student’s remaining college years to pass quickly. Instead, savor every experience—the amazing, the not-so-good and the unexceptional. All of these experiences will help your student grow. Spend time with your student when they’re home for a break or on the weekend. Do a little talking and a lot of listening.

Family members get to celebrate, too!

Parent Pipeline is wrapping up for the school year with this post. I will have an additional post coinciding with Orientation, and then resume regular Thursday posts in August.

I hope you have found some useful information here as well as content that makes you feel more connected to your students.

Finally, I would be extremely grateful if you’d share any ideas you have for posts in next year’s Parent Pipeline. This blog is for you, so please let me know what you would find most helpful and/or meaningful. Or you could let me know what your favorite posts were this year.

You can email me at or post your ideas in the comments section on the Parent Pipeline Facebook page at

Have a great summer!

—Sabrina Brown

Ask the Experts: Answers to Some Hard Questions

Campus security, costs and successfully transitioning to college are among the serious and sometimes difficult topics being discussed at colleges and universities today.

Longwood has addressed some common questions related to these topics with the help of the people who work most closely on these issues.

Below are some of the questions we asked these Longwood experts as well as links to the websites where you can find their answers to these questions and more.

Campus Security
Col. Bob Beach, chief of campus police

—Is the Longwood campus safe?
—How does Longwood communicate with students and others during an emergency situation?
—We live in an age of understandable worry about active shooter scenarios in public places like college campuses. What does Longwood do to prepare for such situations?

College Costs
Justin Pope, vice president and chief of staff to President W. Taylor Reveley IV

—Why does college, and Longwood in particular, cost so much?
—What about all those new buildings I see on campus? Are my tuition and fee dollars paying to build them?
—What is Longwood doing to keep tuition increases down?

Transition to College Life
Dr. Emily Heady, senior director of student success and retention

—If you were to list the three biggest obstacles students face in transitioning to college, what would they be?
—What are some things parents should do—and should avoid doing—to help a student transition to college?
—What happens if a student struggles to make friends, or with the college workload, or with academics in general? What support systems do we have?

—Sabrina Brown

I will be on vacation next week, so Lancer Parent Pipeline will return May 23.