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Town and Gown — Embracing what Farmville has to offer

In August 2005 my family (wife Trish, 9-year-old daughter Amanda, 6-year-old son Connor) pulled into town after our 10-hour drive from Northeast Ohio moving to Farmville as I started my position as Director of Campus Recreation for Longwood University.

We decided to try a little pizza shop on the corner of High St. and Main St., Perini’s Pizza, for our road-weary crew that night. About halfway through our meal, Tony Perini came out to check on us. We told him we just moved to town, and he sat down with us for 15 minutes to listen to our story. That was our introduction to Farmville, Virginia, and we have embraced our community since.

I came to Longwood University to be a part of opening the Health and Fitness Center and develop a comprehensive recreation program for campus. Over the next 16 years, that vision took off, and we have been able to truly transform the campus into one that understands the value of holistic wellness and how important that is to individual success academically, professionally and personally.

My current position is associate vice president of Wellness and Auxiliary Services. This allows me to expand on the coordinated delivery of wellness services (counseling and psychological services, University Health Center, campus recreation) across campus and the community. I am excited for the future of our local community as we have begun to discuss how Longwood University, Hampden-Sydney College, Farmville, Prince Edward County, YMCA, The Manor Golf Course, High Bridge Trail State Park and others can come together to maximize our recreation/wellness resources to most benefit our entire community. Intentional investment in the holistic well-being of our entire community will add immense value to the quality of life for all of our residents.

Over the last year, my primary role has been the incident commander for the university’s COVID-19 response. Many people have worked tirelessly to keep Longwood University running as normal as possible during these unprecedented times while focusing on the safety of our campus and community.

My family and I really never imagined we would be in Farmville or Virginia this long. But here we are, and we’re so glad of it. My wife now teaches fourth grade at Fuqua School. Our daughter is married and a police officer for Chesterfield County, and our son is in his last semester of the business program at Longwood.

Our children grew up watching old movies at the “Stars Under the Stars” showings and attending the Heart of Virginia festivals. They enjoyed various sports through the PEFYA programs and other community offerings since 2005. Now, Trish and I look forward to this empty nest chapter in front of us and embracing what Farmville and Southside Virginia have to further offer and how we can best serve this community.

Matthew McGregor is the associate vice president of Wellness and Auxiliary Services at Longwood University. His email address is mcgregormc@ longwood.edu.