Putting On A Happy Face

There are many things I love about our Longwood students: They’re friendly, kind, thoughtful, hard-working, unpretentious. Many of them also are really good sports, as the story I’m about to tell you will show.

Recently, 8-year-old Regan Vogel, the daughter of Longwood photographer Courtney Vogel, was on campus. She’d accompanied her mom to an assignment and kept herself busy collecting colorful leaves.

All was not exactly well, though. Regan noticed the smiles of students she encountered were hidden by their dutifully worn masks. Couldn’t they do something about that? Regan mused.

In a moment of collective creativity, the group drew smiles on the leaves and the students placed them in front of their masks for a photo op.


Regan was happy, and we hope these photos make you feel that way, too.

—Sabrina Brown

Doing the Right Thing: Students commit to wearing face coverings on campus—even outside

Humans are great at a lot of things, but one thing we find challenging is making a significant lifestyle change over the long haul.

We gain back that 10 or 20 pounds we fought so hard to lose. We pledge to be tidier, but we only do it for a while. We’re all in for recycling, but it’s time-consuming and we don’t keep it up.

That’s the reason I am so impressed that—more than halfway through the on-campus portion of this semester—most students are still conscientiously wearing face coverings on campus, even outside.

At one student event I attended, where every student was wearing a face covering, one young woman told me that a culture of mask wearing has developed on campus. She added that students who don’t cover their faces quickly find out from their fellow Lancers that it’s not acceptable behavior.

Please encourage your student to continue to follow the guidelines for wearing a face covering, observing social distancing and washing their hands. Their vigilance is key to remaining on campus until Thanksgiving—but, more importantly, to staying healthy.

Also, even though the weather is cooling a bit, we’re continuing to encourage students to spend time outdoors by creating spaces conducive to socializing (with appropriate distancing, of course). This includes 100 Adirondack chairs and four fire pits spread throughout campus.

One hundred Adirondack chairs have been spread throughout campus to encourage students to socialize outdoors.
Four fire pits have been installed on campus: one between Moss and Johns halls, two near Upchurch University Center and one on the Stubbs lawn.

The chairs and the fire pits seem to be a hit. Here’s part of a thank-you note one student sent to a staff member about the new amenities:

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for transforming the outdoor space into an easily accessible and welcoming atmosphere to get students outside. I really have thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the Adirondack chairs or picnic tables on Stubbs and look forward to testing out the new fire pits!”

—Sabrina Brown


Event leaves students with stars in their eyes

The clouds moving across the sky at times decreased visibility but they did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the Longwood students who turned out recently for an evening of stargazing.

“Even with the clouds rolling in, we were still able to view the moon, Mars, Saturn and its rings, as well as Jupiter and its four inner moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto,” said physics major Austin Hedges ’21, president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), which co-sponsored the event with the Outdoor Club.

Giving participants that close-up view of “outer space” was an 8-inch telescope equipped with a GPS system programmed with the locations of thousands of celestial objects.

Leah Eick ’23, a nursing major and Outdoor Club media and equipment chair, got an eyeful thanks to the sophisticated equipment. “I’m fascinated by the planets. Just being able to look at something so far away and see the beauty of it is amazing,” she said.

Leah Eick ’23, media and equipment chair for the Outdoor Club, gets a close-up look at distant objects in the night sky.

Dr. Kenneth Pestka II, a physics professor and the SPS faculty advisor, said students received training and practiced using the telescope before taking it to the event. “Once the operator has correctly aligned the telescope, it can accurately track objects, and it can also find celestial objects for the user,” he said.

The Society of Physics Students and the Outdoor Club are just two of Longwood’s more than 175 student organizations. With adaptations for Covid-19 guidelines in place, these organizations are providing students with opportunities to get together to do things they love and make new friends.

Outdoor Club president Crystal Rosenbaum ’21, a nursing major, said her group has been “jam-packed with activities” this fall, including weekly bike rides, outdoor yoga classes and a sunset hike on the High Bridge Trail attended by 25 students.

The stargazing event is another facet of the club’s mission to “get students interested in the outdoors and to continue that interest past their college years,” she said.

The event put Ashley Roberts ’21, a sociology major and Outdoor Club member, in mind of camping trips with her dad where they would lie on their backs and look up at the stars.

“It’s something that’s always interested me,” she said.

Daniel Alvarez ’23, an English education major and treasurer of the Outdoor Club, is a nature lover who spends a lot of time at his home in rural Northern Virginia “down at the creek fishing” and exploring the woods with his dog. He had a telescope when he was a kid, but it was nothing like the one the physics students set up for the stargazing activity.

“It’s nice to be able to look through a telescope that lets you see so much detail,” he said.

Austin Hedges ’21, president of the Society of Physics Students, sets up the telescope for the evening’s stargazing. The telescope has a GPS system that is programmed with the locations of thousands of celestial objects.

That’s just the reaction Hedges was hoping for.

“I think the participants really enjoyed being able to get great views of these objects,” he said. “Especially with Mars, Saturn and Jupiter because with the naked eye they are just small dots in the sky. With the telescope, we could clearly see the red color of Mars, the beautiful rings of Saturn and the bands across Jupiter’s atmosphere.”

The event was such a hit that the two clubs are planning to do it again in the near future—hopefully when the weather will be more cooperative.

“Outer space is so vastly unknown to society as a whole,” said Rianne Woudsma ’23, a physics major and vice president of the Society of Physics Students. “I’m hoping we can get more people interested in what’s out there with these events.”

—Sabrina Brown

2016 Vice Presidential Debate put Longwood in the international spotlight

Just about four years ago, Longwood was in the international spotlight as the host of the U.S. Vice Presidential Debate.

Hosting the debate was an unparalleled experience for the entire Longwood community—especially students, who signed up in droves to volunteer for the event, putting them at the epicenter of an experience they’ll never forget.

We thought today would be a good time to look back on that experience and everything it meant for Longwood, including:
—Increased awareness of our university with more than 40 million viewers and the equivalent of more than $80 million in media exposure
areer boosts for students who made important connections with those organizing and covering the debate
—Opportunities in Longwood classrooms to put an academic focus on the meaning of citizenship and democracy

I hope you’ll enjoy the videos below, which will give you a glimpse into the impact this momentous occasion had on our campus and our community.

—Sabrina Brown

Supporting your student’s emotional and physical well-being

One hundred Adirondack chairs have been spread throughout campus to encourage students to socialize outdoors.

As we get deeper into the semester, I know many of you are concerned about how social distancing and restrictions on gatherings are impacting your student’s emotional well-being.

Of course, it’s not business as usual, but I wanted to let you know that a number of activities and events, including Oktoberfest, as well as student organizations, have adjusted to the health guidelines and are providing your student with opportunities for socializing and making new friends.

Longwood has more than 175 student organizations ranging from sports clubs to academically focused clubs to community service organizations. Please encourage your student to participate—if not in one of the activities below then in something else that aligns with their interests.

STEP Puppies (Service-Dog Training and Education Program), one of Longwood’s 175+ student organizations, has become a welcome fixture on campus.

Oktoberfest Klown and Spirit Leader Dance
noon Saturday, Oct. 3, Stubbs Lawn

Oktoberfest Virtual Concert featuring Lee Brice
7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3
Students will receive an email link to the concert

Outdoor Club Lawn Games
4:30-5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, Stubbs Lawn
Cornhole, badminton, lawn bowling and more

Intro to Disc Golf
4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, 1503 Johnston Drive

Disc Golf League
noon Sundays, disc golf course, 1503 Johnston Drive

Stargazing with the Outdoor Club and Society of Physics Students
8-11 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, Lancer Park Softball Field

Lancer Guard Conditioning and Tryouts
Conditioning: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8-10 p.m., Mac gym
Tryouts: 8-10 p.m. Oct. 15, Health and Fitness Center (based on routine learned in conditioning)
A dance and flag corps

Longwood String Ensemble
7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Longwood Landings #116
For violinists, violists, cellists and double bassists with at least one year of playing experience

Group Fitness Classes
Various times, Health and Fitness Center
Spin, yoga, boxing, pilates and more

The Fitness Center is open and offers group classes.
Counseling and Psychological Services

If your student shrugs off your suggestions about getting involved and really seems to be struggling, you can encourage them to get in touch with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

“We recognize that many students may be struggling with anxiety, grief, sadness, confusion, loneliness and other difficulties in the midst of navigating a global health pandemic, financial hardships, increased social disconnection, and continued racial injustice and unrest,” says Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay, director of CAPS. “Whatever struggles students may be experiencing, CAPS is here to help.”

CAPS offers individual counseling and group therapy, both in person and via Zoom. There’s even a Zoom support group for students who are in isolation or quarantine. If you’d like more information, you can reach CAPS at 434-395-2409.

Q&A with the University Health Center medical director
Dr. Rob Wade

Dr. Rob Wade and the staff of dedicated professionals affiliated with the University Health Center are working especially hard this semester to support students’ health and wellness. Dr. Wade took a few minutes recently to answer some questions about the Health Center, its procedures for supporting students through Covid-19 and how the semester is going so far. You can find the full Q&A here.

—Sabrina Brown

Activity serves up happiness on the rocks for students

Who knew there was a national Collect Rocks Day?

Patti Carey, that’s who.

That’s why earlier this week there were Longwood students hunting all over campus for the very special rocks created by Carey ’82 and some of her friends in the College of Business and Economics (CBE).

Over the past few weeks, the CBE faculty, staff and students painted more than 150 rocks with cheerful messages and pictures, and then set them out for students to find. Some of the colorful rocks promised the finders CBE swag. The “mayor’s rock” entitles the finder to a key to the town to be handed over by Farmville Mayor David Whitus ’83, who wanted to participate in the event.

As director of student engagement and special initiatives in CBE, Carey is always looking for ways to spread some sunshine for students.

Sarah Kuzniewski ’22 (left), Dorie Walters ’21 and Rachel Wells ’21, all business majors, were some of the students who looked for rocks this morning.

“Last year we were brainstorming things we could do, and I ran through a list of some of those wacky days of the year. I also was aware of the Kindness Rocks Project, where people paint rocks with inspirational messages and leave them for anyone to find. The two just seemed to go together,” Carey said, adding that this is the second year she’s spearheaded the event.

Dr. Dawn Schwartz and Dr. Melanie Marks, both CBE faculty, were among the volunteers who painted rocks this year.

“We just want to show some college spirit and go the extra mile to create a fun activity for students. There are many beautiful rocks, so I hope they end up on desks to remind the students to stay focused and give it their all,” said Marks. “I love the things Longwood does to show students that they are our focus. I think it is especially important this semester that students know we want them to have the best experience possible.”

Some lucky students will get to take home these rocks, painted by Dr. Melanie Marks.

It’s all about happiness, agreed Schwartz ’03, MBA ’13.

“I do this because I want to spread happiness among our students,” said Schwartz. “I did it last year for the same reason. However, this year I can see the toll Covid-19 has had on our students (and really all of us), and I wanted to make it extra special for them.”

Schwartz said she hopes the inspirational messages on her rocks would give hope, joy and “maybe the strength to persevere through whatever they are going through. I know they’re just rocks, but sometimes the smallest thing can be the sign someone needs to keep going.”

If senior Will Watson’s experience is any indication—mission accomplished.

Watson, who is graduating in December with a concentration in accounting, hit the campus at 7 the morning of the “hunt” with the goal of finding the mayor’s rock. A few hours later he had it hand, saying it took a little of the sting out of some of this semester’s challenges and disappointments.

“Today,” he said, flashing a smile and holding up the coveted rock, “I have joy.”

—Sabrina Brown

Longwood Continues Top-10 Ranking, Again Named A “Best Value” Among Virginia Publics

In today’s post, I’m very happy to be able to share with you the good news about Longwood that was released today by U.S. News & World Report in the magazine’s annual college rankings. Feel free to spread the word!

This is the fifth-straight year Longwood is ranked among the top 10 public universities in the South and the second year Longwood is named a “Best Value” among regional Southern universities—both indicative of Longwood’s steadily rising reputation. Since 2013, the university has climbed to No. 7 from No. 12 among public institutions in the Southern regional category. Among public and private regional universities, Longwood is ranked No. 16 overall.

New this year: Longwood is the top-ranked Virginia university on the list of Best Colleges for Veterans, a rapid rise due in large part to concerted efforts led by Dr. John Miller, associate professor of early American literature and member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Rankings can never fully capture the student experience of a university, nor can they capture its spirit, but a steady rise like we have seen is because of improving benchmarks that matter very much,” said President W. Taylor Reveley IV. “Those benchmarks include small class sizes that are the hallmark of our Civitae core curriculum and our strong academic reputation. Our true strength, however, is in our community of citizen leaders who innovate and strive each day to seek new ways to push forward.

“This year I’m especially proud to see our work with our veteran students recognized alongside our commitment to college affordability,” continued Reveley. “Both of these measures are top of my mind every day, and we know that we can make a real difference to students and families by holding tuition increases among the lowest in Virginia and providing opportunities to veterans who have served our country.”

Among the factors that have led to Longwood’s sustained top-10 ranking:
—A six-year graduation rate that exceeds predictions
—Fewer than 20 students in nearly 60 percent of classes
—Civitae core curriculum classes capped at 25 students

At the same time, Longwood continues to invest heavily in full-time, tenure-track faculty—offering students smaller classes taught by professors who are making their careers at the institution. Since 2012, Longwood’s ranks of tenured and tenure-track faculty have increased by more than 40 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.

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 behind only one other public university in Virginia on the regional list.

“For the past eight years we have worked extremely hard on college affordability,” said Louise Waller MBA ’10, Longwood’s vice president for administration and finance. “We’ve kept tuition increases to among the lowest levels in the state, and this coming year we will actually be lowering out-of-state tuition rates. We have ongoing conversations about how we can innovate to keep the sticker price as low as possible so more families aren’t priced out of higher education. I’m glad that work is recognized in these rankings, but more fulfilling is meeting students who benefit from our efforts.”

Meet Longwood’s New Dean of Students: A resource for parents as well as students

The path Jen Fraley took from being a chemistry major with her sights set on a medical degree to a dean of students working on a law degree is exactly what makes her such a good choice for her new role at Longwood.

“I wanted to help people, and I thought going into medicine was the way to do that,” said Fraley, who’s been in the Student Affairs division at Longwood for seven years and began her new responsibilities as dean of students this July.

The epiphany that changed her life happened during her senior year at Kenyon College in Ohio.

“I realized that a career in medicine wasn’t that Norman Rockwell vision I had in my head,” she said. She turned to her mentor—advice she often gives students today—who helped her realize that being a physician wasn’t the only way to help people.

That mentor just happened to be Cheryl Steele, then an associate dean at Kenyon and now dean of student engagement at Longwood. “I went to talk to Cheryl about my situation, and I’ll never forget when she said to me, ‘Jen, I get paid for what I do,’” Fraley recalled. “Until that moment, I hadn’t even thought about a career helping students in a university setting.”

From there, she never looked back. After finishing her chemistry degree, she went on to work in various areas of student affairs at three other universities and earned a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education. Fraley came to Longwood in 2013, serving the majority of the time since then as director of student conduct and integrity and Title IX coordinator.

These days much of her focus is on dealing with Covid-19 issues, but the regular business of the Dean of Students Office continues even in the face of a pandemic.

Fraley took some time out of her busy schedule—she’s also working on a law degree through the University of Dayton—to share how she sees the role of her office, how she and her staff can be a resource for parents and how they can best serve students.

As Longwood’s dean of students, what offices do you oversee?
Of course, the Dean of Students Office is one of my areas of responsibility. Also under my “umbrella” are the offices of Student Conduct and Integrity, Title IX, Disability Resources, and Residential and Commuter Life. This is a new structure for Longwood. All of these offices are working toward the same purpose, so having everyone together as a team makes sense. This structure presents opportunities to benefit students in some really powerful ways.

What is the role of the Dean of Students area?
I see it as seeking to instill self-advocacy in students and connect them with the proper and best resources for their unique situations and concerns. We’re looking to serve students by providing some of their basic needs so they can be successful academically.

Exactly what do you mean by instilling self-advocacy in students?
We want to help them develop the skills they need to fend for themselves, while still providing a safety net.

How can parents help you accomplish that goal?
The best advice I could give to parents is to check in with their students and make sure they know where to go for help. For example, if there’s an issue about their student’s scholarship, instead of the parent dealing with it, they can tell their student about the Office of Financial Aid and suggest they call there to ask for help in resolving the issue.

Can parents call the Dean of Students Office for help?
We’re happy to speak with parents. FERPA (Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) limits some of the things we can discuss without a waiver from the student, but we’re always happy to give information that’s publicly available and to listen to concerns. Usually we can say, ‘This is what you’re describing to me, and these are the offices we’d suggest that you refer your student to.’

We can also help when there’s been a family emergency or a death in the family that impacts the student.

Parents also can call us and say, ‘I’ve never heard my student sound so down, and I’m concerned.’ We’ll send someone to check in on that student.

Would the Care Team be the group looking into concerns about a student?
Yes. The Care Team is a multidisciplinary group of faculty and staff run out of the Dean of Students Office who meet regularly to discuss concerns that have been expressed about students and to develop a plan for reaching out to those students.

What should a parent do if they believe their student is in an emergency situation?
If there’s an emergency with the safety and welfare of a student, parents should call LUPD (Longwood University Police Department) at 434-395-2091. This will activate a 24-hour administrative response, seven days a week/24 hours a day. Parents should be aware that our office isn’t monitoring email or phone messages for immediate, emergency concerns—and especially not in the evenings or on weekends. It’s really important that parents call LUPD if they believe their child is in an emergency situation no matter when that emergency occurs.

What are the 3 most important things parents can do to help their students be successful at Longwood?
—Help your student solve their own problems.
—Encourage your student to make connections with their faculty/professors. I come across a lot of students who don’t take advantage of office hours, which are designated times that students can connect with their faculty members. That connection or extra piece of help can really make a difference in the outcome of the class. Faculty are so willing to help—but I know they can be intimidating to students. Encourage your student to have the confidence to make those connections.
—Emphasize the importance of forging friendships and finding ways to get involved. They don’t want to overdo it, but your student should look for organizations or activities focused on things that are important to them and become involved with those on campus.

Finally, what’s your current take on the Covid-19 situation at Longwood?
Of course, it’s a day-by-day situation, but right now I am cautiously optimistic. I see very few students across campus who are not following the rules. By and large, our students are committed to being here, and they understand their actions have consequences beyond themselves.

We just need to stay the course and not relax our vigilance. There is a general sense at Longwood that students look out for each other. This situation is just really a broadening of that experience—of students’ recognizing their place in the community and how they can contribute to this effort. As long as they don’t get lax on that, I think we’ll make it. So far so good.

—Sabrina Brown













The Importance of Staying Vigilant

In light of developments at other universities that have been in the news recently, I thought you might appreciate a bit of good news Longwood’s Assistant Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams shared yesterday as well as an update on Covid-19 at Longwood and plans for Convocation next week.

In his email, McWilliams related that on Tuesday of this week, during a regular Covid-19 conference call for regional leaders and health officials, the Virginia Department of Health’s Piedmont Health District director, Dr. Robert Nash, asked that the university convey to our students his personal appreciation for the excellent public health habits he’s seen in practice these first weeks of the semester.

Our community appreciates your student’s efforts—please encourage them to keep it up. Poor decisions by just one or a few members of the community can have an enormous impact. Experiences at other universities show just how quickly and easily Covid-19 can spread.

We are fortunate that our smaller size and smaller classes make our circumstances different from large universities. Even so, everyone in the Longwood community must keep up their good habits and remain vigilant in order to have a successful semester.

Longwood’s Covid-19 dashboard

Longwood’s Covid-19 dashboard includes a daily tally of positive test results from the University Health Center that updates each day around 5 p.m. The dashboard also links to the official VDH site, which includes data on all reported cases by locality.

We’ve received some questions and feedback about possibly sharing additional information on the dashboard, in particular the number of self-reported positive cases we’ve heard about from students (for example, tests administered by providers other than the University Health Center). We have decided to focus on frequent (daily) updates of information we know for certain. This decision is based on our concerns about conveying information that may not be reliable or verifiable, or that could be misleading or potentially compromise student privacy. However, we are listening to this feedback, looking at what other institutions are doing and considering how we can responsibly share more.

“I can tell you that as of this writing, since most students began returning on Aug. 16, two students have notified the university of positive test results, in addition to the three confirmed at the UHC. One has now completed isolation and the other is isolating at home,” McWilliams said in the email.

testing and contact tracing

If your student has received a positive test result or is awaiting results from an off-campus provider, it is very important for them to inform the University Health Center at 434-395-2102. Our Quarantine Support Team will work with your student to ensure care and academic continuity, while at the same time protecting their privacy according to our practices and policies.

Communication and effective quarantining for those who may be contact-exposed are essential to limiting spread of the virus. VDH staff is leading all contact tracing and will let your student know if they are considered contact-exposed and need to go into quarantine. Students with questions can also contact the University Health Center.

Quarantine and Isolation

First of all, here’s the difference between quarantine and isolation: Quarantine is for those who are considered to have been contact-exposed to positive cases, either at Longwood or elsewhere, even if they have themselves tested negative. Isolation is for those who are themselves positive or presumed positive.

Some universities have expressed concerns about running short of space for students to quarantine or isolate in on-campus housing. Longwood’s housing situation and case numbers are very different. Almost all students who have needed to isolate or quarantine because of possible contact exposure have been able to do so in their own rooms, in their off-campus housing or at home.

On average, only about 1-2 students per day have needed to stay in our designated on-campus quarantine/isolation space in ARC Hall. We have ample capacity there, as well as in other locations if numbers increase and it is needed.

Convocation Plans

Lastly, we know Convocation is on the minds of many students and their parents. Longwood recognizes it is especially important this year to students to preserve rituals and traditions as best we can. It will be different this year—capping in particular may be more spread out in time and space than the traditional ceremony— but we very much hope to proceed next Thursday, Sept. 10, in some form, with appropriate precautions in place. There will be an email to campus within the next few days confirming plans.

—Sabrina Brown

Read All About It in Longwood Magazine: Big plans, big gifts and big love for the university

I know that most of you have been focused this week on making sure your students have everything they need to get off to a good start this semester.

As you do that, I thought you might also enjoy some light reading in the summer issue of Longwood magazine that I hope will be one more confirmation that you and your student made a good decision in choosing Longwood.

You’ll meet several members of the Class of 2020 who have big plans for the future and big love for Longwood.

You’ll see some concrete examples of how our graduates apply citizen leadership in their lives:
            —Four fraternity brothers who decided to help out young students struggling to keep up with online schoolwork due to lack of adequate technology
            —A first-generation college graduate who overcame a difficult childhood to become the leader of the Virginia Education Association

Dr. James Fedderman ’98

           —A musician who was determined to keep his music-making paying the bills despite shutdowns and cancellations
            —A teacher who, after decades of frugal living, gave a multimillion-dollar gift to help create the new hub of campus life your student is enjoying today

The late Elsie Upchurch ’43 with members of her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma

In this issue you’ll also see some of our 2020 senior art students’ creativity—and find out what inspired their artwork.

The jewelry created by Alejandra Gonzalez ’20 was inspired by her curiosity in the Pre-Hispanic jewelry from Northern Peru and its most ancient cultures.

You’ll meet the energetic new dean of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, and you’ll hear how our alums stayed connected to each other and to Longwood during Virtual Alumni Weekend.

And much more.

Happy reading!

—Sabrina Brown