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■ October Interview: W. TAYLOR REVELEY IV, president of Longwood University


Hosting a national debate


Longwood president says area’s history helped it land the Kaine-Pence match-up


by Martha Steger O


n Oct. 4, Virginia will host its first U.S. vice- presidential debate at


Longwood University in Farm- ville. To have a Virginia senator as one of the candidates is a bonus no one counted on in summer 2015. That was when Longwood’s president, W. Taylor Reveley IV, realized the university might have a chance at hosting the nationally televised debate. The match-up of Sen. Tim


Kaine of Virginia vs. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is expected to boost the number of people travel- ing to Farmville. While officials can’t predict, in


terms of actual numbers, Kaine’s influence on the turnout, Farm- ville’s acting chief of police, Andy Ellington, says, “I think it makes a difference. Tim’s a well-known guy … I think a lot of people want to be here in person to see him in the debate.” Officials, from Farmville


Mayor David Whitus to Sheri McGuire, executive director of the Small Business Develop- ment Center, say rooms within a 50-mile radius have been almost


20 OCTOBER 2016


completely sold out since the debate venue was announced in September 2015. A lot of the visi- tors will be campaign operatives and media. Col. Robert Beach, chief of Longwood’s police force, and other officials expect as many as 2,000 members of the media from across the U.S. and the world. The international exposure


should be a positive, says Stephen Farnsworth, a political analyst and professor at the University of Mary Washington. “The more attention drawn to Virginia in 2016, the more it will be good for Virginia business, and Virginia has never fallen short as a tourism destination.” The Oct. 4 debate will be


broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. It will air from 9 pm. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Elaine Quijano, anchor, CBSN, CBS News, will moderate. Virginia is a state of many


firsts. Reveley, the nation’s first third-generation college president,


notes that it was the site of the first modern presidential debate in the sense that we now know it — in 1976 at Phi Beta Kappa Hall at the College of William and Mary. Reveley’s father, W. Taylor Reveley III, is currently president of W&M, and his grandfather was president of Hampden-Sydney College. Reveley has been known to


remind undergraduate students of the historical context of the ’76 presidential debate at W&M between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. “Then,” he said, “in ’92 the town hall format of debates was inaugurated at the University of Richmond when Bill Clinton and Ross Perot and George Bush the elder debated.” He’s sure Longwood’s histori-


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