Whitus keynotes convocation, Longwood seniors celebrate milestone

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Although inclement weather was on the horizon, throngs of excited seniors packed into Willett Hall on Thursday to celebrate Longwood University’s 2015 Convocation Ceremony.

“It should be noted that rain is good luck,” Longwood University President W. Taylor Reveley IV said.

“On Saturday, May 14, 2016, we, the class of 2016, will begin our new journey to change the world,” Senior Class Vice President W. Davis Gammon said.

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As a time to celebrate the official start of the school year, Reveley welcomed the crowd with great enthusiasm. “We gather today here in early September to begin the year officially and celebrate convocation,” Reveley said.

He called the event “one of those occasions over the course of the year where we pause and inject a dose of formality into our day-to-day routine and remind ourselves that the work we do here is special, noble and worthy of sanctification.”

The 2015 Convocation keynote speaker for the afternoon had special ties to Longwood University and the Town of Farmville.

As a 1983 graduate of Longwood University, Farmville Mayor David E. Whitus, expressed his appreciation to have such an exciting opportunity at his alma mater. “It is indeed an honor to be here,” Whitus said. “I am deeply humbled.”

Whitus offered words of encouragement about building partnerships to the upcoming graduating class.

“Communication is critical to any partnership,” Whitus said. “You have to be able to talk.”

In addition, Whitus focused on key areas of dealing honestly and building trust. “All successful relationships have to be built on trust,” Whitus said. “As you travel life’s road, communicate, be honest, trust, look to the future and may God bless Longwood and the Town of Farmville.”

As an exciting addition, several faculty members were presented with awards for their dedication and service to Longwood University.

The 2015 recipients were Dr. Audrey Church, who received the Maria Bristow Starke Faculty Excellence Award; Gena Southall, who received the Maude Glenn Raiford Award; Dr. Suzanne Donnelly, who received the Maude Glenn Raiford Junior Faculty Teaching Award; Dr. Kat Tracy, who received the Provost’s Scholarship Award; Dr. Larissa Fergeson, who received William David Stuart Leadership and Service Award; Dr. Sarai Blincoe, who received the Junior Faculty Award and Dr. Gordon Ring, who received the Simpson Distinguished Professorship.

This year Dr. Ring was the first recipient of the Simpson Distinguished Professorship Award, established by Cora Straughan Simpson ’61 and husband Murray Simpson.

This one-year appointment carries a summer research stipend of $5,000, a course release for the spring semester before the summer stipend is to be utilized and an additional $5,000 grant.

As anticipation was built for the capping ceremony, Senior Class President Natalie Joseph was capped on stage with assistance from her student capper Austin Wilson, and Provost Joan L. Neff.

Laughter and delight could be heard throughout Willett as seniors sported elaborate cap designs reflective of their personalities. All caps were made by chosen friends of students being capped.

Longwood University’s 2016 graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 14 at 9:30 a.m. on Wheeler Mall.