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we have that we’ve got the groundwork in place to make an even bigger jump in that regard next year.

VB: You have ... around 5,000 students. I’ve read that by 2025 you plan for it to be 6,000. Is that correct? Reveley: Yeah, that’s an important number for us because that’s as big as we would like to get. So much of the magic at Longwood is the scale of the place and the interaction between our faculty and our students. If we can grow slightly — and organically — that’s our real hope.

VB: You’ve mentioned the commission is looking for student energy and enthusiasm to bring this all about. What specific roles will students have at the debate? Reveley: It ranges broadly. At this point we’ve got more than a thousand people — students, alumni, faculty, staff, residents of the town — who have registered to vol- unteer … to help with the media, to help with the candidates, help with really just any aspect of the work … One of the neat- est volunteer opportunities is that we’ll need a few students to be the actual stand- ins for the candidates … making sure the camera angles are really just so as the stage is getting into its final shape … which is a pretty neat experience for somebody.

VB: Does the debate figure into your overall strategy for engaging alumni and others philanthropically for the univer- sity’s growth and improvements? Reveley: It absolutely does … We’re the third-oldest public university in Virginia after William and Mary and U.Va. … It really has had a catalytic effect among the alumni … Beyond increasing the number of donors, we’ve grown the annual, smaller contributions to a record year this past year, too. It was up about 14 percent.

VB: When you took office in 2013, the university was completing a $41 million fundraising campaign, the largest in its history. In terms of dollar amounts, what is your fundraising goal at this point? Reveley: We’ve certainly tried to keep the juggernaut rolling … and we’ve raised about $15 million since that $41 million campaign closed, but we don’t have imme- diate plans to begin a new campaign ... But

we have been putting this real emphasis on increasing the number of total donors each year, and likewise have been putting some real emphasis on increasing the number of contributions we have right into the academic heart of the institution.

VB: What is Longwood doing to try to hold down increases in tuition? Reveley: We’ve held increases to well below 3 percent for each of my three years here … but from the philanthropic stand- point, the real key into the far future is to get scholarship funding so that college — Longwood — is always affordable.

VB: What are your goals for matching the investment in a college education with today’s job market? Reveley: I think college always, and certainly today, is a strong mix of a public good and a private good … a public good in that college is essential for a free society… and a private good in [prepar- ing] individual graduates for their future careers …I think in some ways public perception has gotten out of sync with purest economic reality. The New York Times had a good story [June 3, 2016] in which it [with Google] asked the ques- tion, “If unemployment for those with a high-school education is 7 percent today, what is unemployment for those with a bachelor’s degree?” In asking that ques- tion, the Times found that their readers were wildly off in the guesses they made, that they would guess … double that, triple that, for those with college degrees … The reality is that for those ages 25-34, with a bachelor’s degree, the unemploy- ment rate today is just 2 percent, which is really striking when you stop and think about it …

VB: What are Longwood’s retention and graduation rates as of 2016? Reveley: Retention is 81 percent from freshman fall to sophomore fall. The six- year graduation rate is about 68 percent; the four-year rate, 53 percent... [As] a society and [as individual] institutions, we have to give all of our creativity to figuring out how to make the path from freshman year to graduation a stronger one.

VB: What about the argument that online courses can accomplish much of

what a bricks-and-mortar college does at a more economical cost? Reveley: The quip that goes through my mind is to think about Thanksgiving dinner. You could come up with a densely packed energy bar with as many calories and as many nutrients in it as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but is that the same thing? I would certainly say it’s not, that much of the power of residential liberal arts education lies in the way that it works, the way that it plays out, and the process, the four years of maturing into adulthood — the time with roommates, the time with professors, the 2 a.m. bull sessions. Those all are what contribute to the habits of democracy; and if we were to somehow bypass those and focus nar- rowly on skills training … we might for a time have a measure of economic growth … but we would lose the ability of people to learn to be citizens of a republic.

VB: Is Longwood reinventing its mission? Reveley: I think it’s more being true to the deep essence of the place. I’m lucky to have this long perspective on the institution through my family. My great- grandmother was a Longwood alum, class of 1940, and my great-grandfather was the chair of the biology department here … so I know in a deep way that Longwood has been true to its liberal arts roots through the centuries … People frequently think it’s a teachers college that evolved into a university. In reality it was a liberal arts institution in the most classic sense for 50 years before it was a teachers college. When it was founded in 1839, it was a very progressive thing to be educating women, let alone educating women in Latin, Greek, music and mathematics … the four original courses at Longwood. We really are here to prepare a rising genera- tion, first and foremost, to be citizens and then to be ready for their careers.

VB: What role do you have at the debate as the event unfolds on the eve- ning of Oct. 4th


Reveley: I’ll welcome everyone, which will be very nice. I’m very much look- ing forward to working closely with the commission and its leaders and staff on preparations … Then I’ll basically enjoy watching the opera unfold.


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