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Reveley’s father is president of the College of William and Mary and his grandfather was president of Hampden-Sydney College.


ing] Longwood momentum deep into the future. When we got back from the holidays in January 2015, we got in touch with the Commission on Presidential Debates and began to wind our way through the process.


VB: How did the process come down to Longwood’s being the final choice for the vice-presidential debate by the commission? Reveley: From the initial number of about a hundred institutions that expressed interest for hosting any of the four presidential debates, the process winnowed down to about 15 or 16 that got into the substantive back and forth with the commission. That played out in depth through the summer of ’15 [to the point that] by late summer I had a sense that we might really be in the hunt. As it got to late September, I was sitting at my desk thinking about Longwood’s master plan for our facilities, which we had been working on independent of the debate for a long, long time, when the call came in from Mike McCurry, co-chair of the Presidential Debate Commission. Mike has a great sense of humor, and when I picked up the phone he said without any preface, “Are you busy on October 4th next year?”


cal context was an asset in its selection as a venue this year. Referring to “the range of operatic work necessary … to make one of these kinds of events really work well,” he said the commission “really cares about the basic story of the place they’re going to, and I think Longwood’s story and Farmville’s story they found particu- larly compelling ... “[T]his is one of the 100 oldest


institutions of higher learning in the country; and, in a really poetic way, the last days and hours of the Civil War played out at the north end of Long- wood’s campus, and the modern Civil Rights movement began in great measure at the southern end of our campus at what’s now the Moton Museum but was Moton High School in 1951.” The debate’s legacy will likely be


a blending of the president’s vision for the school’s role in a democracy and


Photo by Mark Rhodes


an increased number of donors to the university — up 24 percent for 2015 over 2014. Virginia Business spoke with Reveley by telephone in August.


Virginia Business: Longwood’s hosting of the single vice-presidential debate on October 4 is a coup for the university. How did the idea for host- ing the debate come about? Reveley: The idea really lodged in my mind in fall 2014 when class discus- sion turned to whether that might be something we could do at Longwood ... Because of my familiarity with the [pres- idential] debate process from my time [as managing director at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center], I actually got to thinking about it … I decided Longwood should be in the mix because it fit into our goals of recognizing citizenship in a democracy … and [of potentially giv-


www.VirginiaBusiness.com


VB: How does the commission decide on venues? What are the requirements, including the financial commitment for the production? Reveley: The commission has been honing how these things work for 30 years now. At a threshold level, it’s the size of the venue, parking for satellite trucks, security considerations, whether there are enough and the right kind of accommodations for the candidates, whether the camera angles work, whether the IT infrastructure is robust enough. Beyond this threshold, the commission looks at the spirit of an institution — student energy and enthusiasm and the history of the place … The themes here [Civil War and Civil Rights] feel especially relevant today ... At a funding level, each institution pays $2 million toward the production cost. Inclusive of that, we expect Longwood to spend a total of $5.5 million — for


VIRGINIA BUSINESS 21


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